It’s a hopeful sign as we enter 2009: Coral reefs damaged by the 2004 tsunami are recovering suprisingly quickly.
That’s according to a study done by the Wildlife Conservation Society, working with the Indonesian government and the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. According to this Associated Press story, “their examination of 60 sites on 497 miles of coastline along Indonesia’s Aceh province showed that the reefs were bouncing back.”
Officials in Aceh province must be happy, because the reefs support both fishing and tourism industries. Aceh lost an estimated $332 million from tsunami damage to its reefs.
This illustrates how Nature is resilient and can sometimes recover more speedily than we think. I wanted to end the year on a good note and this story fit the bill.
However, not all things in Nature are so resilient. Take the case of the moose in northwest Minnesota. Average winter temperatures there have shot up 12 degrees over the last 40 years; summer temps rose 4 degrees. Moose need shade, water and cool weather — all of which are dwindling in northwest Minnesota. Less than 100 moose now roam those woods, down from 4,000 two decades ago. In 50 years, all the moose in that part of the state could be history, thanks to climate change. (Oh, and a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey shows that climate change could occur more quickly than the IPCC’s 2007 report predicted.)
As 2008 ends, there’s an ample amount of bad environmental news. But there is also some good news — in this case, the coral. In 2009, the world will grapple with the issues of energy and climate change. We have an opportunity to take measures that will start to reduce the effects of climate change. I hope our actions create some good environmental news in the years to come.
Happy New Year!
Image Credit: ARC Centre of Excellence
A 12-year veteran of environmental journalism, Dan Kulpinski is a frequent contributor to EarthSky. He also publishes the GreenListDC.org site and the GreenListDC Blog. Before joining EarthSky, he was a programming director at AOL and wrote the AOL Down to Earth blog.