Chasing Coral: how you can protect coral reefs from climate change.

I recently watched Netflix documentary Chasing Coral. It’s about a team of scientists trying to show the world the great toll that climate change is taking on marine life.

It begins with the idea of creating a ‘Google street view’ of the world’s oceans, to capture their beauty as well as the destruction being caused by coral bleaching. 93% of the heat caused by global warming is absorbed by our oceans. This extra heat is effectively causing coral to self-destruct; expelling the colourful living organisms inside them which accounts for their bleached colour. Coral species are very resilient, and aren’t giving up without a fight - but it’s one that they need our help to win.

The film communicates the impacts climate change is having now in devastating detail, but it doesn’t give us viewers any ways we can take meaningful action to help out. It ends by telling us that all but three countries are committed to the Paris climate accord, and hundreds of cities and states around the world are committed to going 100% renewable. It felt like the end credits were saying “don’t worry guys, we got this” - whereas the film shows this issue is far from solved.

So that’s why I thought I’d compile a list of things that you can do if you want to play your part, however big or small, in tackling climate change to protect our oceans and watching how we treat the oceans ourselves.

  • Walk or cycle. Kickstart a more active commute or shopping run, or take the first step by leaving the car at home and taking public transport.

  • Get involved in local tree planting: Trees are incredibly effective at capturing carbon and water runoff, combatting warming and pollution.

  • Think about your diet. Reducing your consumption of meat can go a long way. Look to buy sustainable seafood and why not sign up to a local vegbox for seasonal food?

  • Switch energy provider. If you haven’t changed in over a year then you’re probably on an expensive tariff - reason enough to change! Why not consider Bulb, Good Energy and Ecotricity who all offer 100% renewable energy to their customers.

  • Write to your local MP. Let them know you are concerned about climate change at the local and national level - they should take note if they want to keep your vote!

  • Cut down (or out) plastic. Buy a reusable water bottle and a few tupperwares for lunch or leftovers. Single use plastic bottles and excessive packaging are unsustainable and whilst eliminating them is tricky, cutting down is a huge first step.

  • Research what you throw away: Composting, or using a food waste bin, and recycling can drastically cut waste that otherwise can end up in the oceans. Look into products you buy that will go down the drain, such as soap, shampoo and chemicals, and look for environmentally friendly alternatives.

  • Support marine conservation initiatives: If you live by the sea, volunteer for a local beach clean. If you just like to visit, then holiday responsibly: whether paddling, snorkelling or diving, and make sure any guides are doing their bit.

Photo: Glovers Reef Photo by XL Catlin Seaview Survey - The Ocean Agency - Christophe Bailhache