An outreached hand. A callused, steady, and strong hand of an older brother offering its unwavering support.
A Red Mangrove prop root. A long, branched, and secure root spreads its splayed palm across the brackish water and into the muddy bottom.
Despair. A fallen younger brother. Unable to regain his footing on the ground that surrounds him in every direction.
Injured. A battered barrier reef. A relic to the greatness and vastness of the once-pristine aquatic ecosystem.
An older brother watches. He will offer his help, his guidance to his younger sibling in their times of confusion. He has endured. His life in this world has granted him knowledge. Knowledge that he wishes had been available to him in trying times.
The Red Mangrove has withstood time itself. Millions of years of challenges have produced an ultimate organism. A tree that can spend the entirety of its life cycle in a harsh, degrading, and salty environment. Coral reefs and Mangroves have evolved in unison. As one prospers, the other becomes stronger. If one falters, it often requires the assistance of its counterpart to reestablish itself.
Mangroves. Reefs. Brothers.
Globally, we face a problem. One that no single country can escape. One that no single person can neither fix or avoid. Our planet functions through cycles. Cycles of lunar phases, of high and low concentrations, of nutrients through decay and new life.
We live in world of innovation that began with the inception of the industrial revolution. We ushered in a period of creativity, of prosperity, and of progress. There were so many apparent benefits of these advances. So many benefits that it was easy to overlook and easier to fail to look for any negative externalities that may have been riding on the coattails of progress. So began the ravaging of forests and the depletion of nonrenewable resources… all in the name of a revolution. Since that day, carbon concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere have been rising at an ever-increasing rate. We continually surpass levels that have never-before been recorded. With these unprecedented levels of carbon in the atmosphere come unprecedented consequences.
Carbon in the atmosphere is absorbed into the seawater. As the carbon concentration in the atmosphere continues to increase, the ocean water becomes more acidic. With increasing acidity of the ocean comes challenges for our global reef ecosystem. In overly acidic water, coral bleaches. It dies. It dies and can no longer provide its crucial ecosystem services to the life that typically inhabits the reef. They are the basis of life in our oceans. They provide a vital source of protein, industry, and income for civilizations around the globe. If the reefs die, our oceans die.
An older brother is the steward of his younger brother. He watches. He teaches. He protects. He bestows knowledge upon the young man that he only knows through his very own experiences. In a time of need, he is chosen to answer the call. To answer the call for help. Human brothers are brought to one another through birth. This is not the case for the mangrove and the reef. They are brothers in evolution. They have stood shoulder to shoulder against the barrage of waves and wind brought to them by the ocean. One brother has fallen, the reef is on a knee, still living, but injured. The mangrove is firmly grounded by its array of weaving roots and thick canopy. Still standing tall and continually growing stronger, the mangrove offers a hand in the name of protection for the reef. As each individual mangrove works to sequester up to fifty times more carbon than the average tree, they work to protect the reef to from the onslaught the outcomes of human development and inhabitance.
-Bo and Beck Wiltshire