The Impact of Climate Change on Coral

Millennial writer Nichole Flores writes:

Netflix’s documentary “Chasing Coral” (2017) recounts the journey of a team of coral scientists determined to unveil a problem hidden beneath the surface of the global climate change debate: the bleaching—and eventual death—of vast stretches of the world’s coral reefs, including the vibrantly captivating and economically crucial ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

Oceans have already reached levels of warming that threaten the survival of the coral. Coral responds to a temperature fluctuation of even 2 degrees Celsius by expelling the algae grown within their body tissues, losing their characteristic resplendent colors. The coral skeleton turns ghostly white, a sign that the coral animal is on the verge of death. Once an uncommon occurrence, the number of bleaching events has spiked in the past 30 years as oceans have continued to warm….

The passion for coral at the heart of this documentary calls for new awareness of the devastating, and often unseen, effects of climate change. The debate among U.S. Catholics often concerns whether or not climate change is real; meanwhile, climate scientists are working to see whether its implications will be simply terrible or truly catastrophic. Saving the reef from certain destruction necessitates an acknowledgment of a dire climate situation that threatens all created life.