Posted by on January 06, 2005 at 00:58:46:
The only item the Bush Administration plans on providing new funding for in its "Ocean Action Plan" will be the $2.7 million to preserve coral reefs. The need for action on reefs became apparent earlier in the month, when on 6 December a study was released finding only about 30 percent of the world's coral reefs are healthy -- down from 41 percent two years ago -- and as many as one-fifth of the world's coral reefs have been destroyed. Another half are damaged but could be saved, said the study. The principal culprit for the loss, according to the study, is global warming, blamed for higher water temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations. Other threats to the reefs include coral disease, overfishing, coastal development and pollution runoff from land-based sources. "Coral reefs are among the oldest and most diverse forms of life. They provide food and shelter to fish and protect shores from erosion… Covering less than one percent of the earth's surface, they help drive the food chains and economies of many on the planet, with $375 billion in economic benefits globally, according to the study by 240 scientists in 96 countries," said CNN reporting on the study. Moreover, coral reefs could be the sources of many new medicines in the 21st century. "Half the potential pharmaceuticals being explored are from the oceans, many from coral reef ecosystems," estimates the U.S. State Department. For more, see the CNN report at: www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/science/12/06/coral.reefs.ap/index.html, and the Sun Star article at:www.sunstar.com.ph/static/dav/2004/12/09/feat/medicines.from.coral.reefs.html.
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