Inconvenient Truth: 70% of the worlds’ coral reefs are threatened or destroyed...but some Florida men have an idea
On Sunday evening my family and I often watch a show called Big Ideas for a Small Planet. It's a Redford/Sundance initiative.
I like it because it provides both problems and solutions; moreover, they are usually realistic, "I can do that!" solutions. Plus, it makes me hopeful. I think we all need to feel hopeful about the environment. If we feel hopeful, we don't feel powerless. If we don't feel powerless, we think there is something we can do, and every little bit helps.
Last night's episode was called Pray (webisodes available here), and was about the stewardship of the earth and faith. There were a variety of segments within the episode, but one in particular caught my attention: the destruction of reefs across the globe due to global warming, man's negligence, hostile environment and so on.
Here's a little background about reefs:
Coral Reefs are the oldest, most complex ecosystems on earth. They are home to more kinds of life than any other ocean environment and rival the tropical rainforests on land. They have existed for well over 200 million of years and achieved their current level of biologic diversity 50 million years ago. These majestic underwater worlds are home to some of the world's most colorful and diverse life forms including fish, hard and soft corals, sponges, jellyfish, anemones, snails, rays, crabs, moray eels, lobsters, sea turtles, dolphins, and seabirds. However, most coral reefs are now threatened with extinction due to a combination of impacts that are particular to each reef, depending upon the use and upland activities affecting it.
Source: Reef Relief (click here for a link to more specific information about reefs and threats to reefs)
70% of reefs are dead or dying:
According to the Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2004, 70% of the worlds’ coral reefs are threatened or destroyed, 20% of those are damaged beyond repair, and within the Caribbean alone, many coral reefs have lost 80% of coral species. The decline and loss of coral reef ecosystems has significant social, economic, and ecological impacts on people and communities in the U.S. and around the world.
Source: US Coral Reef Task Force
In fact, it's happening so quickly that you can observe massive changes and destruction in a mere decade.
When two young men observed this, they decided to do something about it.
In the late 1980's a pair of college roommates from the University of Georgia often went diving off the Keys in Florida on breaks. Over the years of diving they saw significant deterioration and degradation of the reefs they were visiting.
These young men decided to research a way to create something that would not only mimic naturally occurring reefs, but would stimulate and support existing reefs and marine life.
They created Eternal Reefs, which, in short, casts cremated remains with concrete into a carefully planned shape that mimics reefs.
The reasons for choosing an Eternal Reef as a final memorial are as varied as the individuals and families making the choice. Rather than passing an urn down to future generations, or taking space in a cemetery, this memorial is a true living legacy.
Military veterans, environmentalists, fishermen, sailors, divers, and people who have been active all their lives or whose lives has been cut short, are all comforted by the thought of being surrounded by all that life and action going on around them.
This memorial option costs between $1000 and $6000, and protects marine environments without using any governmental money. Don Brawley, founder of Eternal Reefs, Inc. says it is an ideal way to leave a legacy that not only doesn't pollute the earth (as traditional burial does---embalmed remains and chemically treated caskets) but that, in fact, improves it.
They've successfully placed over 300 eternal reefs since 2001. The reefs appear successful within the marine environment. Schools of fish seemed right at home, and some eternal reefs sported little starts of natural coral reef growing on them.
What do you think about this?
Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
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