Threatened Coral Reefs and Life-Saving Medicines

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October 19, 2009


Sharon welcomed the listeners and talked about the importance of water in life and life in water. She said that it is imperative for everyone to realize the importance of water, to drink plenty of water and to carry water with them if they are unsure of a water source. Dehydration, or lack of water, is out of control in our world and causes or contributes to ailments from allergies to obesity.

Guest: Kari Hohne

Kari Hohne, (Carnelian Bay, CA), author, environmentalist and dream analyst. "Protecting Coral Reefs to Benefit Humankind"

Kari Hohne has been studying coral reefs for 14 years and has been SCUBA diving for 30 years. She has written numerous books on her other subject of interest, which is dream analysis and life coaching. Most of the proceeds from her books go to coral reef protection (she has never been scratched by coral, which is supposed to be very dangerous).

Coral reefs are the oldest ecosystems on Earth and the planet's largest living structures. They are located in warm climates all over the world, although they actually occupy a total area only about the size of Arizona.

Reefs are dying at an alarming rate because they are not readily visible to most people. The biggest problem is onshore development, which alters the marine environment due to increased sewage and cutting of mangroves. Coral reefs are highly complex and live through a symbiotic interaction between thousands of species of plants and animals (4,000 fish species and 7,000 coral species). They tend to have very specific needs as far as pH, salinity and light. Alter this equation and the reef begins to die (or "bleach").

Reefs are very similar to rain forests in that they both process carbon dioxide and they thrive in clean air and/or water. They are also similar to rainforests in that they are a goldmine for new compounds with medicinal value. To date, over 20,000 medicinal compounds have been isolated from marine life (this is a fairly new science), resulting in new anti-cancer drugs, pain killers, etc.

To date, 10 to 20 percent of the Earth's coral reefs have died and will not return. 30 to 50 percent are weakened and threatened. This has greatly accelerated since 1980 and is worst in the Philippines. Global regulation is difficult since there are offshore reefs in 109 countries.

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(Note: The only offshore coral reef near the mainland US is at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Florida, off Key Largo, created in 1963 as the world's first underwater park. In 2008, it had over a million visitors and appears to be in excellent health.)

Categories: Ecology and the environment; water and sanitation; 2009