Greta Thunberg recently reminded the world at the Economic Summit in Switzerland that the climate-change clock is not only still ticking – rather it is speeding up! She doesn't want percentages cut, nor 5-year or 20-year plans, she wants the carbon emissions to be net zero- NOW.
But doesn’t this sound extreme? Impractical perhaps, yes, but no, not extreme. I share Greta's concerns because I am on the frontline in the collapse of this precious planet- I see the coral reefs bleaching and dying from water that has become so hot in our summer that it is uncomfortable to swim in. Just this week our southern summer (Feb = Aug), bleaching has returned to our Fiji sites. My dear friends, this global warming problem is very real- yet it is difficult for most people to get their heads around. Carbon pollution is more of a threat than any pandemic, because it is hidden, slow moving, and long-term, and because it impacts all species on the planet, not just our own.
While I have little hope that our leaders will do what needs to be done quickly enough to prevent even more grave consequences, I do have hope for coral reefs, because there is something that we can do to save them right now, even in the face of rapid climate change. Admittedly, what we do may seem miniscule when compared to the scale of coral reefs, but we are doing is proving a concept that can then be multiplied a thousand fold and that will help keep hundreds of coral species from going extinct in the coming decades. Already we are helping reefs maintain coral cover in the warming seas in six countries.
Over the past four years since the project began, the coral rescue work has spread from Fiji to Kiribati, Tuvalu, French Polynesia, Vanuatu, and now to Samoa. An amazing movement is beginning to form that you are part of, and so we thank you for joining in. We all have a choice: sink into apathy and despair, or join together, dive in, arise and move forward with positive actions and hope! While there are many positive and transformative movements that we can and should get involved with to help save the species and ecosystems of the planet, it is truly precious that we have become a positive and hopeful movement for saving the coral reefs, involving the youth and others in many sites.
Each project site starts by assessing the situation by field scoping and in consultation with government, local fishers, and the reef owning community. Where possible, a comprehensive coral reef restoration and management plan is facilitated or supported, including no-fishing areas, a coral restoration plan, and COTS removal activities. For reefs mostly killed by bleaching, the focus is to search for 'super corals', bleaching-resistant survivors, for sampling and propagation within coral nurseries. If the main reefs are still largely intact, the focus turns to searching shallow tide pools and closed lagoons for heat adapted corals. These 'hot pocket 'corals exist at the upper thermal tolerance limit for corals, and so they are often killed out in mass bleaching events, and so our collection of samples of each of these corals represents a coral rescue. Once these 'super coral candidates' grow big in the gene bank nurseries, if a major bleaching has not hit during the growth period, we trim off small pieces for further testing in containers of hot water, to confirm their bleaching resistance. Once a coral has been confirmed as a super coral, we then begin trimming off branches for outplanting, to restore damaged reefs and to create patches of hot-water adapted corals, to be ready for when mass bleaching kills most of the other corals. We do not advocate replanting entire reefs, but we rather we create diverse patches of adapted corals where natural reproduction can occur, and from where bleaching resistance can spread naturally throughout the coral reef system.
A major advancement in spreading the strategy happened last year, with two international training workshops completed, and another ten-day workshop will begin just next week. Over 70 have been trained so far in advanced coral gardening for climate change adaptation, which is a major advancement: 30+ from Fiji, 5 from Papua New Guinea, 3 each from Samoa and Malaysia, and with one each from Vanuatu and New Caledonia, plus others from Australia, USA, New Zealand, Spain, Netherlands, and Israel.
During the September workshop, participants dedicated our newest coral nursery to a special person- we named the nursery the "Greta Thunberg Coral Nursery" A bouquet of super corals is now dedicated to a super person, at a super important time.
SPECIAL THANKS TO EVERYONE!
PS: Giving a special Valentines Day "THANK YOU!" to our special volunteer in Seattle, USA, Nancy Clark, who has tirelessly worked to help thank donors, edit reports, etc. Nancy helped us double our contributions on GlobalGiving this year! She wants me to remind you that the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day is this coming this April 22nd. Donations made on that day will help us attain a high ranking as a Climate Action Fund participant, and donations on that day will receive a special match! Good Thinking Nancy!