Science Digest reports that scientists are calling for urgent action to restrict carbon dioxide emissions to protect coral reefs from global warming. The Science Digest article asserts that coral reefs, “which have functioned relatively unchanged for some 24 million years, are now going through profound changes in their make-up.” A review of global temperatures during the past 24 million years, however, shows warming temperatures during the past 100 years since the end of the Little Ice Age are relatively insignificant compared to temperature swings during the past 24 million years.

Science Daily quoted Professor Nick Graham of Lancaster University saying, “Coral reefs have been with us in some form since the dinosaurs and today they are at the frontline in terms of responses to climate change and a range of other human pressures.”

Scientists, however, report that temperatures were warmer than today throughout most of the period since the last ice age glaciation ended 10,000 years ago. Moreover, scientists report that temperatures during each of the past several interglacial warm periods – lasting approximately 10,000 years apiece and separated by 100,000 years or more of advancing ice sheets – were warmer than our present interglacial warm period.  See, for example.

Science Daily observes that coral reefs have “functioned relatively unchanged for some 24 million years,” which is quite strong evidence that coral can and will survive our relatively minor recent warming.

Although the Science Daily article strikes an overall alarmist tone, the article does acknowledge that “as the world’s climate changes, tropical temperatures shift towards the poles, enabling corals to grow in new places.” A study in the peer-reviewed Geophysical Research Letters, for example, documents coral rapidly expanding their range poleward as ocean temperatures gradually warm.

So perhaps some alarmists are calling for restrictions on carbon dioxide, but objective evidence shows coral have thrived under much more warming and cooling than is presently occurring, and coral continue to thrive today.

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  • CFACT, founded in 1985 by Craig Rucker and the late (truly great) David Rothbard, examines the relationship between human freedom, and issues of energy, environment, climate, economics, civil rights and more.