Meet the US ecologist who explained to Pope Francis why coral reefs are crucial for the planet

By Barbara Fraser
November 24, 2021

When ecologist Gregory Asner found himself in an audience with Pope Francis earlier this year, he discovered a kindred spirit.

They talked about the Amazon forests and the Indigenous people who defend their territories, topics that Francis raised within the church with the 2019 special synod on the Amazon. They also discussed the importance of preserving the biological diversity of Earth's ecosystems in the face of accelerating climate change.

Then Asner had a chance to tell the pope something personal. So he turned to coral reefs.

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