The Great Barrier Reef: we can't let this be the sad truth

What the world would be losing if we let the Great Barrier Reef die-

The Guardian has posted a fantastic and in-depth interactive article on the reef titled, The Great Barrier Reef: an obituary, and we'd like to share some of the discussion with you.

To sum up the article in a few words; "the reef has never looked to be in greater danger".

So, what would it mean to lose the Great Barrier Reef? To put it simply, it means losing the largest and most complex living thing on the earth!

The reef as we know it today emerged 6000 years ago, and in just the past 50 years a web of decisions have contributed to the reef's poor health.

The reef's recent history, as the article explains, "has seen its meaning and purpose begin to blur. It has been shoehorned into multiple roles - tourist attraction, scientific curiosity, oil field, shipping lane, environmental totem".

However, what is highlighted as the real symbol of the reef's current story is Australia's embrace of the mining boom and coal industry.

And of course the impact that dredging, and the disposal of dredging sediment will have on the reef by the handful of resource companies who want to develop Abbot Point and dump 5m tonnes of seabed sediment into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Scientists warn the dumping will fatally smother seagrasses and corals, and there's already evidence of the negative impacts dredging has on animals. For example, in Gladstone at a port dredged in 2011 "fish started exhibiting deep red lesions and abscesses that oozed black and green pus. Crabs were the colour of rust."

The problem extends further than inside our own country however, as not only are we largely dependent on fossil fuels in our own home, but we sell around 80% of our coal to the world, only further contributing to the global problem of climate change.

Climate change in the long run (if dredging doesn't do it first) is what poses the greatest threat to our reef, as just small rises in sea temperatures and ocean acidification will be lethal.

The sad truth may be that "Australia could stop chemicals flowing onto the reef. It could ban dredging and dumping. It could even transform itself into a low-carbon economy. But its peddling of vast piles of fossil fuels to other countries, in quantities that grossly distort any hope of just 2C warming, will forever render it a quietly comfortable accomplice in the reef's demise."

If we don't want this to become a reality, then we need to act now. If we act now - both individuals and governments - to cut carbon emissions and reduce our dependency fossil fuels, then we could really minimise the effect of climate change and dredge spoiling on the Great Barrier Reef.

As individuals we need to let our voices be heard loud and clear, to put pressure on governments to take action, and to see the consequences of inaction.

That is why 1 Million Women is declaring that the REEF IS IN DANGER.

You can join us in taking this warning to the World Heritage Committee, and get your friends and family to add their names too. Click here to add your name:

And don't forget to check out our weekly Great Barrier Reef Brief for all the latest news on action (and some inaction) to save our Reef!

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