Greenpeace Taipei (綠色和平), an international environmental organization has discovered that many coral reefs around Taiwan has been hit by coral bleaching which led them to raise awareness about coral bleaching and urge the Taiwanese government to take action.
Many people are unaware of the importance of coral reefs. Coral reefs are marine ecosystems that provide food and shelter for many different marine species, like fish. However, as global warming worsens, the ocean’s temperature rises, causing many corals to die.
According to Greenpeace Taipei(台北綠色和平組織), coral bleaching can be caused by drastic changes in environmental conditions which include water temperatures, pH values, and turbidity. When the environment of the coral does not meet its needs, the coral will begin losing its color sources causing it to gradually bleach.
In 2020, Taiwan’s sea temperatures were at a record high of 30°C. There were also fewer typhoons which caused the temperature of the ocean to rise.
Marine ecosystems are largely affected by coral bleaching. Many fish may also die along with the coral because they do not have an adequate environment to live in. Corals also substantially reduce coastal erosion which is caused by rising sea levels, strong waves, and coastal flooding. If the corals die, then Taiwan would be faced with more coastal erosion.
Not only does coral bleaching affect its environment, but it also affects tourism. The tourism industry earns revenue through coral reefs. As the corals are deteriorating, tourists would less likely want to pay for scuba diving tours.
Over a course of sixth months, Greenpeace Taipei’s project director, Yves Chiu (邱聰榮) documented the coral reefs in Taiwan which were mostly located in Liuqiu Island (琉球嶼) off the southwest coast of Taiwan, Kenting (墾丁) and Green Island (綠島).
Chiu managed to document the coral reefs in Taiwan through scuba diving and taking pictures of the coral reefs. After each diving session, Chiu will receive the coral pictures one to two weeks later. He will then study and compare the pictures he took to pictures of healthy coral.
另外，美國國家海洋暨大氣總署(NOAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)於2021年七月召開新聞發布會，會中討論台灣珊瑚白化的嚴重程度。美國國家海洋暨大氣總署使用衛星監測海面溫度、追蹤因水溫較高可能導致珊瑚白化的地區。
To add on, in July this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) held a press conference discussing the severity of coral bleaching in Taiwan.
The NOAA uses satellites to monitor sea surface temperature and keep track of areas with higher water temperatures that may cause coral bleaching.
Greenpeace Taipei believes that the government should take action by setting boundaries for marine protected areas (MPA), enforcing more proactive climate and energy policies, reducing carbon emissions, and using renewable energies.
“The government should implement policies that protect the ocean from pollution and other external sources to further enhance a chance at recovery,” Chiu said.
In addition, Chiu mentioned that Greenpeace Taipei hopes that the government can support their goal of achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Greenpeace Taipei recently did a poll and found that 90% of people are aware of climate change but only 20% of people know the government’s carbon reduction goal. As a result, they believe the government should spread awareness about their carbon reduction plan and formulate an effective carbon pricing mechanism in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The organization advises people to use energy-efficient appliances, electric fans, non-chemical or natural sunscreens when going to the beach, buy second-hand items, and take public transport so they can contribute to saving coral reefs from bleaching. Ideally, it would also help if people reduce any unnecessary traveling and try to not keep their AC lower than 26°C.