HUMAN population growth is the primary threat to the world's environment. Each person requires energy, space and resources to survive, resulting in environmental losses. Our population is rapidly rising beyond the earth's ability to regenerate and sustain us with a reasonable quality of life. We are exceeding the carrying capacity of our planet, challenging the existence of several species, including our own.

Nearly all of the ecologically-fragile coral reefs in the Philippines are under severe threat from economic development and climate change.

This is according to an update circulated by the Southeast Asian Centre of Excellence (SEA CoE) during the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium held here.

The Philippines is part of the so-called "coral triangle," which spans eastern Indonesia, parts of Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands. It covers an area that is equivalent to half of the entire United States.

By Christopher Pala

Off the palm-fringed white beach of Butaitari, Kiribati, the view underwater is downright scary. Corals are being covered and smothered to death by a bushy seaweed that is so tough even algae-grazing fish avoid it. It settles in the reef's crevices that fish once called home, driving them away.

Dead coral stops supporting the ecosystem and, within a couple of decades, will crumble into rubble, allowing big ocean waves to reach the beach during storms and destroy the flimsy thatched huts of the Micronesians.

Amid a host of problems for the world's oceans, last week brought a reminder that coral reefs, the sentinel species for measuring the health of the seas, are taking a beating. One-third of all coral reef species face extinction worldwide, reports the latest study, released by Science magazine, with more species looking threatened.

In 2005, months of unprecedented higher-than-normal water temperatures started a cascade of bleaching, disease, and death among corals in the Eastern Caribbean. Such events are increasing in frequency around the world and threaten these fragile ecosystems, which shelter a wealth of biodiversity and provide sources of food and pharmaceuticals. Researchers must determine how rising temperatures produce coral bleaching, the pathogens that cause disease in corals, and the environmental factors that foster disease outbreaks.

Syed Akbar INDIAN MARINE scientists and oceanographers have artifically repopulated corals near the 10 islands of Lakshadweep. "Coral reefs in India have been under stress for some time. The Lakshadweep reefs bore the brunt of coral mining, souvenir collection, ground water pollution and mechanical damage owing to activities like dredging," Dr M.V. Moideen Wafar told this newspaper. Dr Wafar and his team created a dive centre in Lakshadweep, acquired diving kits, trained a broad spectrum of stakeholders ranging from officers, wardens, scientific staff to unemployed local youth.

An effort in southern India to raise coastal farmers out of poverty by paying them to cultivate red algae for a food additive has gone awry.

The coastal marine environment provides enormous value in fishery and other products and in ecosystem services including coastal protection, water purification, and appropriate locations for ports, harbors, urban centers, tourist destinations, and numerous recreational pursuits.

Caribbean islands will create new protected areas for fish and coral reefs under a $70 million plan announced on Tuesday that will help safeguard tourism-backed economies. "This is a trust fund for the future benefit of society," Bahamas Minister of Works and Transport Earl Deveaux told Reuters of the project. "Our economy is based on tourism and our greatest natural resource is our environment."

sunscreens almost always figure in a swimmer's paraphernalia. While it protects the skin from ultraviolet rays of the sun, it also causes considerable damage to marine life. If the idea appears