“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”
New Scientist magazine has published an article which suggests that corals may have evolved to cope with climate change. In 1970, scientists in Hawaii, investigating the Kāne‘ohe Bay Reef, found experimental evidence that corals would not be able to withstand sea temperatures 2°C higher than those of today. The corals were said to bleach, losing their colors, and then die.
The reason for the experiment was part of the concern among some scientists to investigate what would happen if the Earth’s temperature did indeed rise by a couple of degrees, as they were of the opinion that such a temperature rise would be caused by Anthropogenic Global Warming, caused by human industrial emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.
In the years since that experiment, many scientists have cast great doubt on the prevailing premises of AGW – now re-christened Climate Change – to avoid the embarrassment of reducing temperatures.
However, the original researchers have taken more corals from the same area of the same reef and conducted the same laboratory experiments on them. The 2018 results are somewhat different from those of 1970. A 2°C rise in temperature now seems to have considerably less effect on the coral than in 1970. This would suggest that there has been a change in the coral. It is likely that organisms which can survive higher temperatures have been naturally selected.
But, as so often before, this is not evolution. We started with corals and we now have – corals.