For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Corals make—and save—money in the global economy. Tourism alone generates $186.5 billion in annual revenues from resorts, snorkeling, and scuba diving (albeit not always good for the reefs), and accounts for 50 percent of the GNP in some coastal developing nations. Up to 15 percent of the total worldwide annual fisheries harvest comes from reefs; reef habitats are even more important in locales where seafood is the main source of protein (up to 90 percent for people living in the Pacific Islands). Even in the U.S., where beef, pork, and poultry are more plentiful, commercial reef fishing brings in more than $75 million annually.

Where reefs save money is in the natural ecosystem services they perform: filtering and processing waste and nutrients, making sand for eroding shorelines, and serving as a natural protector for coastlines against waves and hurricanes. A study by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis estimates the annual value of these services to be $174.1 billion.

What we can’t calculate, however, is the untold value of corals to medical science. Researchers have been screening reefs for potential pharmaceutical applications for the past two decades, discovering compounds with anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-carcinogenic, and cardioactive properties. As the reefs die, science loses forever the opportunity to explore these unique beings.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend