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Rita Cannas

Among the books that Lorenzo is most fond of, one in particular is about corals.

Corals teach man a lesson in resilience.

Nature teaches the art of tenacity, it shows in which way life can reorganise itself despite the footprint of mankind on the environment. Climate change and temperature rising are defeated by the resistance of the ecosystems, the ability to give new shape to the biological life which was abruptly interrupted, damaged, altered. Even if deeply tried, today more than ever, nature teaches us to be resilient. It teaches us to have the courage to travel different routes, changing paths and coordinates. This is how undaunted nature is reborn and reorganised.

Why are corals so important?

Corals are microscopic creature, among the oldest on the planet. The researchers define them as the second lung of the planet, with their invisible breath in the seas, in the oceans. The air we breathe depends mostly on these microorganisms.
We consider them fragile, but in reality, during the course of time, in million years, they have been able to build huge cities, even before the arrival of man, facing countless adversities. Coral reefs are the structures of these underwater cities. They occupy only 1% of the surface of the sea but they accommodate 25% of its inhabitants. It is on their presence that the survival depends, even economic, of 3 billion people. However, this priceless treasure risks extinction. The cause of all this is a single species, the most haunting in the world today, the human one. Luckily, not all is lost, because nature is always ready to change to survive.

What if the corals disappear?

Vast areas of the coral reefs formed over the centuries could be destroyed in a very short time because of human activities, including fishing and trade.
But it is mostly climate change that poses a serious threat to the survival of corals, which are extremely sensitive to rising global temperatures. To cause the increase are the Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The sea, life the forests, absorbs CO2 to return oxygen to its place, indispensable for life on earth. But excessive absorption follows the acidification of the seas and the consequent increase in temperature.
The corals also suffer, fascinating formations made by a calcareous skeleton when polyps and unicellular algae live in symbiosis. The former offers a protected habitat and nutrients. While the latter produce, through photosynthesis, oxygen and sugar from which the polyps feed. But when the seas rise, the symbiotic algae are expelled by coral polyps that, in absence of the main source of nourishment, die. Leaving a bare and colourless skeleton, a phenomenon known as coral whitening, a sign of the fading of the invisible breath of the seas.

The resilience of man: a new culture, a new attitude.

Nature shows the ability to know how to reorganise, showing resilience, that stubborn strength to return to life, despite the adversities. Protected areas, natural parks in particular, are an incredible cross-section of biodiversity. Far from the presence of man, the most diverse and heterogeneous species coexist in equilibrium. On the one depends the fate of the other: their nourishment, the survival within a habitat that the set of living marine and terrestrial beings help to build.
Even the fate of man, at the same time, depends on those of nature. On the other hand, those of nature should depend on sustainable economic, touristic and commercial development practices, and therefore on the exploitation of resources that respects biodiversity and all the balances of the biosphere.

This is, on the other hand, the lesson that Lorenzo – the main character of the first episode of The Shifters – gives us: there are no practices scratched in stone; study, information, reading, maturing an opinion can be the most effective weapon against ignorance and immobility. That coral text that stands out in the long stack of books demonstrates the resilience of which man can be protagonist thanks to a new culture and a new attitude.

Discover more about The Shifters

Maria Chiara Di Guardo – pro-rector for innovation and territory, Micaela Morelli – pro-rector for research and Roberta Vanni – Director of CESAR tell the dynamics that have led to the realisation of a crossmedial project about the third mission of University of Cagliari.

Watch the project’s trailer

There’s always something fascinating behind change. An obstacle course that talks about our future. Telling the world is our mission.

The Shifters

Telling the research: out mission.

Learn more

Sustainable development: the role of the Shifters inside the community strategy.
A story full of science twist and turns.
Why a Third mission project.


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