The Coral Reefs in Our Oceans Are Mere Zombies That Will Be Gone Within a Human Generation


Overfishing, ocean acidification and pollution are pushing coral reefs into oblivion. Each of those forces alone is fully capable of causing the global collapse of coral reefs; together, they assure it. The scientific evidence for this is compelling and unequivocal, but there seems to be a collective reluctance to accept the logical conclusion — that there is no hope of saving the global coral reef ecosystem.

What we hear instead is an airbrushed view of the crisis — a view endorsed by coral reef scientists, amplified by environmentalists and accepted by governments. Coral reefs, like rain forests, are a symbol of biodiversity. And, like rain forests, they are portrayed as existentially threatened — but salvageable. The message is: “There is yet hope.” —Roger Bradbury


This is the opinion of Australian Roger Bradbury, expressed in a New York Times op ed piece.  According to Mr. Bradbury, coral reefs now are living only a zombie existence and within a human generation, “There will be remnants here and there, but the global coral reef ecosystem — with its storehouse of biodiversity and fisheries supporting millions of the world’s poor — will cease to be.”

Bradbury’s description of the ocean of the future isn’t appealing:

What we will be left with is an algal-dominated hard ocean bottom, as the remains of the limestone reefs slowly break up, with lots of microbial life soaking up the sun’s energy by photosynthesis, few fish but lots of jellyfish grazing on the microbes. It will be slimy and look a lot like the ecosystems of the Precambrian era, which ended more than 500 million years ago and well before fish evolved.

Bradbury believes that we are wasting valuable time and resources in an effort to save a corpse and that we should instead be focusing on how to live without coral reefs.

Please read The full article from the New York Times.

See also “Are Coral Reefs on the Slippery Slope to Slime?”