The original designer of the Lotus, Wolf Hilbertz, who died in 2007, believed that his structures could be submerged across the world to repopulate reefs and protect shorelines. In reality, the cost and effort involved make it impossible to do except on a small scale. However, it is a useful technique for tourist resorts and to help small areas of reefs recover that have been hit by temporary damage, such as an oil spill or boat impact.
On a global scale, though, the prognosis for reefs and those that depend on these vital, protective fish nurseries, is grim. The only serious way to protect this hugely productive marine ecosystem is to slash our carbon dioxide emissions – and I'm not the only one who thinks we won't achieve this in time.
"By 2050, we may still have corals, and things we'll call 'reefs', but they will be massive limestone structures that were built in the past, with tiny patches of living coral struggling to survive on them,” says coral ecologist Peter Sale. By 2100, he thinks there will be no calcium carbonate reefs visible.
"We're talking here about killing off a whole integrated community of organisms that as been with us throughout our existence and long before there were people of any type on Earth,” says Sale.
The world will go on without reefs, he adds, but it is going to be very much inferior to the planet we have now.