I watched David Attenborough’s show on the Great Barrier Reef last Sunday evening and was amazed at how this iconic structure has been built over the last 10,000 years and at the vast diversity of life that it sustains.
At over 2,300km long the reef contains 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands and is the largest living structure on the planet. The Great Barrier Reef has world heritage status under the United Nations World Heritage Convention.
On April Fool’s Day I read an article in the local paper that was no April fool’s joke – coral bleaching is devastating this reef between Cairns and Townsville – and the main cause? – sea temperature rise. It was reported that sea temperature in the northern reaches of the reef has risen more than one degree higher than average in recent months.
Professor Terry Hughes, who is part of a national coral bleaching taskforce, said that average bleaching on reefs north of Port Douglas was close to 75 per cent and the top half of the Great Barrier Reef had been severely bleached. This is continuing to occur as we experience an un-seasonally warm late summer and autumn period.
This situation is unacceptable and it is up to all of us to act now to save the reef.
I attended an online information session organised by the Australian Conservation Foundation last Wednesday to hear about the status of the Carmichael Coal mine proposal. If this behemoth is approved it will be the largest coal mine in the southern hemisphere and it will be located adjacent to the largest living structure on the planet, the Great Barrier Reef.
Why aren’t people making the connection between the ever increasing burning of coal, its impacts on our climate and associated increases in sea temperature resulting in coral bleaching?
If this coal mine is approved and allowed to impact the GBR it will make a mockery of the Federal Government’s Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) and of Greg Hunt’s trip to New York later this month to ratify Australia’s ‘action’ on climate change. It will mean the Government has not complied with its own legislation, the EPBC Act and our international obligations under the World Heritage Convention.
The tragedy of coral reef destruction and all of its implications for Australia’s economy including tourism, fishing, loss of species and habitat is happening on the watch of the current Liberal Coalition Government. Their short sighted policies are undermining the development of alternative energy in this country. Will this Government commit to phasing out coal over the coming decades and supporting alternative energy NOW? We all have a chance to express our views on this at the upcoming federal election later this year.
Go online now and support the ACF’s ‘Origami Pledge’ to send a strong message to Minister Hunt on the eve of his New York meeting on 23 April 2016. Let him know that the community expects direct action, not words on climate change – https://www.acfonline.org.au/news-media/acf-opinion/governments-lack-leadership-great-barrier-reef