Coral reefs in Egypt are losing their colors…and damage may “affect everyone”

Coral reefs in Egypt are losing their colors…and damage may “affect everyone”
Coral reefs in Egypt are losing their colors…and damage may “affect everyone”

Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt) (AFP)

On a yacht in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, diving instructor Mohamed Abdel Aziz points to the coral reefs and to the tourists who come to see them, saying, “If something happens to it, we will all be harmed.”

Abdel Aziz, who is nicknamed “Mando” by tourists, means the impact of climate change on coral reefs, along with some wrong human practices and the damage they can cause.

“As long as the reefs are healthy, there are fish, diving and activity,” he told AFP.

Mando is keen on the recovery of coral reefs, as it is his main livelihood as a diving instructor in Sharm El-Sheikh, where most of the coral reefs are in Egypt.

According to the Ministry of Environment, there are 209 types of coral reefs in Egypt, which are a refuge for marine life, and attract divers from all over the world.

However, these sea creatures, which vary in vivid colors between red, yellow and green, are threatened by rising sea temperatures caused by climate change. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, “about a quarter of coral reefs (in the world) already suffer irreparable damage, and two-thirds are seriously threatened.”

The fund also indicates that 8% of the world’s coral reefs disappeared in 1998, while 14% of them bleached in the following twenty years.

– ‘Coral bleaching’ –

“I, as a diver, clearly see the impact of climate change on coral reefs,” Islam Mohsen, a 37-year-old Egyptian diving instructor, told AFP. “What is happening is a coral bleaching process, meaning it turns white.”

Two divers near a reef in Sharm El Sheikh on September 29, 2021 Khaled Desouky AFP

“When the temperature rises, the ocean absorbs more carbon dioxide, which produces carbonic acid, so not only does the temperature rise, but the acidity also changes,” Cairo-based climate change expert Catherine Jones explains to AFP.

“When (the water) becomes more acidic, it becomes very difficult for crustaceans.” She asserts that this phenomenon began “several years ago in the Red Sea.”

Egypt is preparing to host the twenty-seventh session of the Conference of Parties on Climate (COP27) next year in Sharm El Sheikh, after the city hosted in 2018 a conference of an alliance of United Nations organizations to discuss ways to protect coral reefs from extinction.

A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that “even if the world manages to stabilize the temperature rise at 1.5°C higher than it was before the industrial revolution, 70-90% of coral reefs could be gone by mid-century”.

With coral reefs damaged, “we will lose a lot of wildlife, and the ecosystem will change in a way that affects us as humans in terms of resources,” Jones said.

“Coral reefs are nurseries for small fish and a place for feeding large fish… They are an essential part of the ecosystem,” she says.

The United Nations says that nearly one billion people in the world live off coral reefs, and that 6.7 billion will be affected by the death of coral in the Red Sea and elsewhere. Note that the barriers formed by the coral protect the coasts from natural disasters. Coral bleaching or death may also lead to human epidemics.

– Between two climates –

Because of the importance of diving tourism to Sharm El-Sheikh, the Egyptian Chamber of Diving Tourism organized courses to provide divers with information and methods of dealing with coral and living marine creatures.

The Chamber supervises 269 diving centers and more than 2,900 professional divers.

Mohsen says that the room has deployed a “buoyant” in the famous diving sites, a floating body fixed to the sea floor used by boats to anchor in the waters away from coral reefs.

And it took the decision to temporarily stop the “entro” or beginner diving activity in the recent period to allow the coral reefs to recover.

The Secretary-General of the Union for the Mediterranean, Nasser Kamel, believes that there may not be much time for this, because some regions of the world are more vulnerable than others.

He explains that studies indicate that the problem of climate change is “more urgent” in the Mediterranean region than in other regions.

He points out that this is a result of the region’s location between two different climate systems, and the heat emissions emitted by a number of its countries. “The increase in temperature (in the Mediterranean region) is 20% more than the global average,” he says.

And by 2030-2035, if the necessary measures are not taken in the field of limiting climate warming, “we will reach a temperature increase of 2.4 degrees Celsius,” according to Kamel.

The countries of the world are trying to stop at the two degrees Celsius limit, and then go down to one and a half degrees.

The Secretary-General of the Union for the Mediterranean commends the “high degree of awareness of countries and governments” in the Mediterranean region in dealing with the climate change crisis, noting that actual programs are being implemented on the ground in this regard, citing Egypt, Turkey and Morocco as an example in implementing friendly projects. for the environment.

While Jones says, “Even if humans disappear from Earth completely tomorrow or we stop producing any kind of emissions, the temperature will continue to rise on its own according to the mechanism of reaction to climate change.”

She believes that “the situation has gone beyond the point of no return now, and all we can do is try to delay the rise in temperature so that we can adapt.”

© 2021 AFP

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