The Price of Conservation

Coral reefs are disappearing at an alarming rate, and it’s a bad indicator for the level of global warming and the state of conservationism. This much we readily know, but there’s a different effect of this degeneration that could cost the planet an unimaginable amount of money.

Tourism contributes trillions of dollars to the global economy and is one of the largest industries on the planet. Marine and coastal tourism supports 6.5 million jobs and is the fastest growing branch of tourism, set by 2030 to be the highest grossing. The appeal of these areas is that they are pristine, untouched, and natural, and with the reefs in decline, it is not overly dramatic to say that we may see a direct correlation in the world economy.

However, it’s not just their beauty and vibrancy that benefits the economy. Coral reefs are a vital component of coastline; they protect the actual beaches and inland regions from large ocean waves that would otherwise break on the shore. Ignoring the fact that the sea levels are rising from global warming, the disappearance of coral reefs will also cause flooding of human habitats by making them more susceptible to changes in ocean levels.

So what can you do to help? The next time you plan a vacation to a coastal region (or anywhere, really), make sure you’re seeking out hotels, tour companies, and resorts that brag about how eco-friendly their program is. They’ll be able to point you to the best way to see natural wonders like coral reefs without contributing to their demise, and your patronage will convince other businesses in the area to think green as well. Conservation is tied to economics, and there is definitely a way to make that work for the planet’s benefit!