The inaugural TEDx KAUST event was an exciting and inspiring one: speakers from very disparate backgrounds offered different perspective on how our ideas and actions can impact and benefit ourselves, and also the people and the world around us.
Prof. Manuel Aranda, with his talk "Corals, Climate, and Time", explained that even though coral reef ecosystems cover a tiny portion of our oceans, they are very important for the biodiversity and the services they offer to us. He described how corals produce these massive reefs formations, such as the Great Barrier Reef, and how their survivorship depends on a unicellular algae (Symbiodinium) which live within their tissues, providing the corals with their photosynthetic products. Climate change is affecting corals by coral bleaching, which is the breakdown of this symbiotic relationship between the coral and the algae. Extended coral bleaching events can therefore cause coral mortality and the loss of these important ecosystems. Coral reefs are not dead yet, but they are likely to undergo annual bleaching events more and more frequently if we do not step up conservation efforts. The easier way to preserve them is to start lowering the anthropogenic impact that comes from the sum of each individual action.
In Prof. Aranda's words, "Just like every single polyp contributes only a small part to the bigger whole, in their sum, they create one of the wonders of this world, they truly make an impact, and so can you."