A Future for the World's Coral Reefs?

Coral reefs are the world's most biologically rich marine ecosystems, harboring some of the world's most beautiful organisms. They provide the principal source of protein for over ten million people worldwide. Reef-based activities (principally fishing and tourism) form the economic livelihood of millions more. Clearly, the human costs of a worldwide breakdown of these ecosystems are enormous.

Yet global deterioration of coral reefs is severe and ongoing. Wholesale disintegration of reef ecosystems has occurred in some places, and collapse on a worldwide scale is a real risk.

But there is some good news, too: we know what steps the international community can take now to protect and restore reefs' ``resilience''-- their capacity to maintain integrity in the face of the environmental fluctuations that are a natural part of life in any ecosystem. We must mediate the severity of global warming, while simultaneously conserving the resilience of coral reefs.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles from our archive every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.


By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in


Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.