Twenty years ago, I wrote and published a book called The Incredible Coral Reef, a companion book to The Remarkable Rainforest. Both ecosystems were already alarmingly threatened and both are homes to the richest, most diverse wildlife on our planet.
The Remarkable Rainforest continues to be used by teachers and home schoolers across the country as a complete curriculum about rainforests , but interest in teaching about coral reefs seemed to wane and we let The Incredible Coral Reef go out of print.
With coral bleaching episodes occurring around the world, there is a new urgency to protect reefs and a new interest in their fate. In the last 30 years, we have lost 50% of the world’s corals. Most of the heat (93%) trapped by greenhouse gases is transferred into the oceans, and the delicate corals can’t tolerate the rising temperatures – especially in conjunction with other threats, such as overfishing, pollution, and the pressure of tourism.
We may think we can accept the loss of an individual species, but what about seeing the collapse of an entire ecosystem? When corals die, it’s exactly like cutting trees in the rainforest. All of the complex and perfectly balanced relationships of animals and plants break down. Without trees, a forest is reduced to brush. Without corals, a reef becomes a rocky mass of coral skeletons. The unnumbered, even unnamed, life forms that depended on a tree-structure or a reef-structure are lost.
What can we do? For me, the answer always begins with education. I find that children love nature and want to learn about our natural world. I find them to be eco-smart too, unjaded and undiscouraged, willing to tackle the most difficult environmental challenges. If we give them facts to work with and encourage creative problem solving, we can trust them to take better care of our Earth than we have (because they must!).
I love working on The Incredible Coral Reef. The first edition won a Teacher’s Choice Award and a Parent’s Choice Approval, so I have a good foundation for the new edition. I’ll blog as I work, so that readers can follow the making of a book. I hope you find the process interesting.
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Toni Albert, M.Ed., is an award-winning author of more than 40 books. Her lifelong love for nature, children, and books inspired her to commit her publishing business, Trickle Creek Books, to “teaching kids to care for the Earth.”