This post is almost a follow from an article I wrote very recently about how climate change has severely impacted the great barrier reef via a process called coral bleaching. The article detailed the use of blue carbon in order to reduce carbon dioxide in our oceans. I finished the article with a sense of hope that if we act quickly then places such as the great barrier reef could be saved from human-mediated destruction.
However, I recently read an article found on Outsideonline.com where the first line read:
The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016 after a long illness. It was 25 million years old.
Now i’m sure you can imagine i was simultaneously gripped and deeply saddened. The writer of that article wrote a very beautifully written tribute to The Great Barrier Reef as an obituary. While it may not be dead yet, it seems that this reef may be no longer meant for this world. This year has seen the largest coral bleaching event ever recorded as temperatures and acidification of the oceans continues to increase. In part due to record breaking temperature increases, that have left global surface temperatures 1.5 °C hotter. It is possible that the reef may not recover from this bleaching event. Without the government backing which I suggested is critical for the successful conservation of the reef (as well as other reefs worldwide), it seems that conservationists seems to be fighting a losing battle. With large parts of the reef now irreversibly damaged it may now only be a matter of time.
Image credit: http://www.azula.com/coral-bleaching-event-confirmed/
The worst part of all of this seems to be the government ignorance to this problem, which seems particularly confusing when The Great Barrier reef alone brings around $6 Billion dollars to the Australian economy as their biggest tourist attraction. Quoting from an article on IFLS:
The government gave the go-ahead to a massive coal port expansion at Abbot Point, smack bang in the middle of the marine reserve. The irony is too much.
So despite a multitude of warnings and years of efforts from scientists around the world, little seems to have been done by the government to protect this environment. With the knowledge that over half of the worlds reefs have already died in the past 50 years, and the apparent lack of government backing, have we reached a point of no return where we will see the gradual disappearance of corals worldwide, as well as their associated species and diversity?