A Reef in Time: The Great Barrier Reef from Beginning to End

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Harvard University Press, 2008 - Nature - 289 pages
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Like many coral specialists fifteen years ago, J. E. N. Veron thought Australia's Great Barrier Reef was impervious to climate change. "Owned by a prosperous country and accorded the protection it deserves, it would surely not go the way of the Amazon rain forest or the parklands of Africa, but would endure forever. That is what I thought once, but I think it no longer." This book is Veron's Silent Spring for the world's coral reefs.

Veron presents the geological history of the reef, the biology of coral reef ecosystems, and a primer on what we know about climate change. He concludes that the Great Barrier Reef and, indeed, most coral reefs will be dead from mass bleaching and irreversible acidification within the coming century unless greenhouse gas emissions are curbed. If we don't have the political will to confront the plight of the world's reefs, he argues, current processes already in motion will become unstoppable, bringing on a mass extinction the world has not seen for 65 million years.

Our species has cracked its own genetic code and sent representatives of its kind to the moon--we can certainly save the world's reefs if we want to. But to achieve this goal, we must devote scientific expertise and political muscle to the development of green technologies that will dramatically reduce greenhouse emissions and reverse acidification of the oceans.

 

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A reef in time: the Great Barrier Reef from beginning to end

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Stretching 1200 miles along the east coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is renowned for the beauty of its diverse and colorful marine life. Formed by corals, this unique marine ecosystem ... Read full review

Contents

The Big Picture
1
The Great Barrier Reef An Overview
12
Corals and Reefs Controls and Processes
26
The State of the Great Barrier Reef
46
Mass Extinctions and Reef Gaps
66
Messages from Deep Time
89
The Cenozoic Roller Coaster
113
Australia Adrift
126
Many Origins
161
Stone Age Utopia
174
An Enhanced Greenhouse World
183
Temperature and Mass Bleaching
200
Ocean Acidity and Coralline Osteoporosis
212
Notes
235
Glossary
265
Acknowledgments
273

The Ice Ages
134
The Last Glacial Cycle
150

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About the author (2008)

J. E. N. Veron is former Chief Scientist with the Australian Institute of Marine Science . The recipient of the 2004 Darwin Medal of the International Society for Reef Studies , he is also the author of the three-volume Corals of the World.

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