We’ve Given the Planet a Fever
How the extinction of coral reefs affects life on earth
Go on. Tell me that climate change isn’t real. Come on, I dare you!
I’m seriously fed-up with people downplaying the effects of climate change. Is it really that disturbing to accept what we’ve done to this planet; that we’re responsible? Does the truth hurt so much that you just can’t stomach it? Some people would rather change the station, pretend it isn’t real…go on with our lives as if all is well.
All is not well.
The problem is that if we stop talking about it, then we’re ultimately accepting defeat. We’re saying that there’s nothing we can do; we’re just too far gone and we might as well just throw in the towel. I’m sorry, but I can’t do that. I refuse to do that — and you should too!
No, I may not go marching with signs, and I don’t speak in front of congress, but that doesn’t mean I’m not over here cheering for those brave enough to do so (even while many are admonishing them for it.) They’re brave enough to publicly ‘take one for the team’, and speak up for those of us who are too chicken to speak up. This is my version of speaking up.
What we have to do is open our eyes and look at the ‘natural’ disasters happening all over the world to see that the issue is real, and it’s getting worse. No, I can’t say if the predictions will come true; it’s difficult to accurately pinpoint actual dates for anything. Mother Earth has a mind of her own and takes things in her own good time, but the fact of the matter is, it’s happening — and it’s happening in our lifetime, under our watch.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Most of us can look up at the sky on any given summer day and see visual proof of pollution; where horizons used to be bright and blue on sunny days, now thick layers of gray smog obliterate the color. We can walk down any street in any town, and see the litter. What we can’t see, however, is the dire state of life beneath the waves.
An entire world lives beyond our sight; a world filled with diversity, wonder, beauty, and awe-inspiring landscapes. A world that’s kept our species alive, unbeknownst to many, for centuries. A world we are killing.
A few nights ago, in search of something to watch on Netflix, I defaulted to my usual ‘documentary’ category. What I found made me cry like a baby.
In “Chasing Coral,” Zachary Rago and Richard Vevers take us on a tour of the magical world beneath the surf, and experience first-hand the beauty, life, and death of the world’s coral reefs. You can watch the trailer here:
Many of us have been educated over the years, throughout various documentaries, series, and even amateur websites and social media posts, about how the world needs bees to survive; No bees, no life. But what many don’t know; what many may not believe — is that the same goes for our coral reefs.
We’re part of this plant-wide ecosystem where everything works hand in hand, and works well, just as long as all the parts are functional. Like a big machine; like the engine of your car, for example.
If one part of the engine stops functioning, the whole engine’s performance is affected. It’s rough, things shake, rumble, make funny noises that we try to cover up by cranking up the radio. But then the engine light comes on, and we get that ‘Ugh!’ feeling; we know it’s serious now, and we need to do something about it. If we’d fixed all of the little problems as they’d come along, we may have been able to avoid the BIG problem at the end.
This isn’t much different in concept; we’ve been turning up the music for decades to ignore the little annoying sounds indicating problems, and now the light is flashing and we can’t ignore it any longer. Now, it’s a bigger problem than many want to admit; and whether you believe it or not, doesn’t change the fact: we’re in real trouble.
Is it too late? I don’t know; I’m not an expert. I haven’t studied the environment or the effects of humans on this planet. But I have eyes, and even without a degree, I can see that it’s bad.
Every action has a reaction; cause and effect. Every small negative change is the start of a larger chain reaction that ultimately affects all life on this planet. The common denominator in every problem this planet has faced has been the human race. The truth hurts, but instead of getting our backs up, it’s time to take onus.
When it comes to the coral reefs, you might think it’s no big deal, just a bunch of plants that grow underwater. That’s not the case at all; first, they’re considered an animal, not a plant. They’re also instrumental in the survival of many marine species.
The coral reef is dying at record speeds— due to increment increases in water temperature; caused, yes, by global warming. Think of how ill you feel when you get a fever of a few degrees above your normal temperature…over time, an untreated fever that keeps rising could kill you. That’s what’s happening here, but on a much larger scale. We’ve pillaged, over-farmed, and polluted this planet to the point where the gases trapped in our atmosphere are causing the air temperature to rise. This is, in turn, is causing the water temperature to also rise.
We’ve given the planet a fever.
Once the reefs die, the small fish that depend on them for survival eventually die off as well. The bigger fish that count on those smaller fish for survival then also die off, and it just keeps going up the chain, coming full circle right back to us.
Millions of people (aka the really big fish) across the world rely on fish as their main source of food — if that source disappears…
I don’t want to be all ‘doom and gloom,’ but the current situation we find ourselves in actually scares me. I’m not going to say that we can’t reverse it, because I believe that we can — whether that belief is founded, or just born of pure hope, I don’t know. But what I do know is that it would (will) take global participation in order to make a noticeable impact.
Each individual making a conscious effort at reducing their personal carbon footprint is great, and should continue! But unless humanity as a whole; as a species; rallies together and takes the big steps — makes the difficult changes — then we’re just prolonging the inevitable.
If one ant keeps carrying grains of sand to the hill, while all of the others keep taking them away, the hill never gets built. We have to work together…all of us! Those who are out rallying — the people that some of us complain about — they’re the ones who can see the real dangers we’re facing. Instead of calling them instigators or bearers of false news, creators of fake predictions; maybe we need to start listening.
We’re the big fish; it’s our responsibility to make sure the little ones survive. It’s our job to take care of our home, keep it clean and tidy, keep things in order. Whether it’s the world we can see, keeping the sky blue and the grass green, and keeping the trees from burning and the mountains from crumbling…or the world we can’t see; the ‘Atlantis’ that’s struggling to thrive. If we can’t mind our actions (all of them!) and keep our world from dying, how are we going to keep our species from the same fate?
This article was originally published on Medium: