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As the oceans absorbed more carbon from the atmosphere, they became more acidic, and that acid was beginning to dissolve the living reef itself.
Concerned for the reef’s health, a number of friends attempted interventions—none more poignant than Veron’s famed 2009 speech to London’s 350-year-old Royal Society titled “Is the Great Barrier Reef on Death Row?
Its complex, sheltered structure came to comprise the most important habitat in the ocean.
At that time, the upper portions of the reef comprised limestone cliffs and innumerable caves lining a resource-rich coast.
The winter of 1997–98 brought the next big one, followed by an even more severe one in 2001–02, and another whopper in 2005–06.
By then, it was apparent that warming water was not the only threat brought by climate change.
” Veron quickly answered his own question in the affirmative: “This is not a fun talk to give, but I’ve never given a more important talk in my life,” he told the premier gathering of scientists, accurately predicting that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations of 450 parts per million (which the world reached in 2025) would bring about the demise of the reef.
No one knows if a serious effort could have saved the reef, but it is clear that no such effort was made.