“Charlie” Veron, former Chief Scientist of AIMS, has worked on all the major coral reef regions of the world. He has over 100 research publications including 12 books and monographs on corals and coral reefs.
His latest book, A Reef in Time: the Great Barrier Reef from Beginning to End (Harvard University Press, 2008), distils the world’s best science for general readers, following the GBR from its earliest origins, to current issues, to future prognoses.
The outlook for the Great Barrier Reef is serious in the extreme. Not only is climate change on a course that will lead to the wholesale destruction of most of the Reef’s biota, it is pushing our planet to the brink of the Earth’s sixth mass extinction. In the deep geological past, these extinctions have hit tropical marine life hardest through upheavals of the carbon cycle mediated by carbon dioxide. Today, carbon dioxide is creating changes to temperature, weather, sea level and ocean alkalinity. These changes are widely known; what is not widely known is the immediacy of the crisis. The last IPCC report – currently the main provider of information to governments about climate change – has seriously underestimated time-lines. This talk looks at how humanity has responded to this crisis and what the future options are.