Skip to content

Past Alarm. World’s Coral: 40% gone by 2010

On Monday 22 April 2002 ABC’s flagship current affairs program, 4 Corners, broadcast the following alarming prediction in a report titled: Beautiful one day.

Across the world, coral reefs are turning into marine deserts. It’s estimated that more than a quarter have been lost and that 40 per cent could be gone by 2010.

From the transcript:

According to the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, 10 per cent of the world’s reefs were lost by 1992. 27 per cent were lost by the year 2000. And it’s expected 40 per cent will be gone by 2010.

In 1997 the area of the world’s coral reefs was estimated to be 255,000km2. Reference.
If the prediction made on 4 Corners is to be believed, then in 2010 the area of the world’s coral reefs should be around 153,000km2.
Instead, in 2011, one year on from that alarming forecast, we find that the global area of coral reef is estimated to be 249,713km2. Reference.
This amounts to a change from 1997 figures of -2.1%. Given the unreported uncertainties, there has essentially been no change in global reef area over the past 10 years. Within error, essentially none of the reefs are missing in 2010. This ABC story turns out to be yet another beat up, designed to scare rather than inform.
Will Four corners now provide an update? Or will it leave this forecast of climate doom to go uncorrected?