Thursday, March 08, 2007

Coral reefs and inequity

The point is simple, and may seem obvious to specialists, but it is often unknown by the general public or easily forgotten. (I touched on it in a post on this site last May. -- Attenborough, the BBC and coral). The poor people are most at risk from loss from the loss of coral reefs.

Beyond the general point, though, what kind of numbers are we talking about.

In The Inequity of the Global Threat to Coral Reefs ( Bioscience, March 2007, Vol 57 No. 3), Simon Donner and David Potere put together economic, demographic and geographic data for a new estimate.

Donner and Petere, who are at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, estimate that 665 million people, about 10% of the global population live within 100km of coral reefs. Over 91 percent of them are in developing nations. Exclude middle income nations and you’re looking at 424 million. And of these about two thirds are outside major urban areas in settings where they are more likely to be dependent on reef resources. The people who are most dependent on coral reef ecosystems are responsible for only a small fraction of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

Obviously a lot is not captured in this data and the authors would not pretend otherwise. But it does look like a useful small advance in understanding a vital dimension of the issues.

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