According to a new organization called Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, the story that the reef is no longer salvageable is not true. The threats are real and immediate, but if we respond now with action not apathy, there’s hope.
The Reef’s Greatest Threats
The Great Barrier Reef is the first natural wonder to suffer from the direct impact of climate change. Poor water quality, caused by land-based run-off, and damaged by crown of thorns starfish – making our reef even more vulnerable. And that’s just the beginning.
Climate change is the Great Barrier Reef’s biggest threat, causing rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification, and extreme weather events. The mass coral bleaching we are witnessing on the Great Barrier Reef is the literal effect of climate change.
- 11 of the 12 hottest years have occurred since 2000;
- 90% of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases is stored in the oceans;
- There could be a 6°C rise in global average temperatures by the century’s end if we don’t act.
Another threat is ever increasing waste. Tons of plastic waste end up in our ocean every year; smothering coral and killing wildlife. But it’s not the only form of waste devastating our reef. Sediment run off, which is of a result of agriculture, urban development and deforestation, ruins our reef’s water quality. This makes our reef more vulnerable to local stresses, like the crown-of-thorns starfish.
- 236,000 tonnes of micro plastic enter our oceans each year;
- 93% of material we produce ending up in landfill, atmosphere and our oceans;
- 80% of the material dumped at sea is dredged material.
Apathy is the Enemy
Too many of us have responded to reef’s threats with apathy rather than action. While the dangers are real and immediate, there is hope. But it is critical that more of us start taking action now.
- 26 billion tonnes of emissions must be cut by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5 degrees;
- Over 50% of corals on the Great Barrier Reef have been lost since the 1980s;
- 29%of shallow water corals died from the bleaching in 2016.
Building a Global Community
Often it feels like the challenges that face our Reef and planet are too big to tackle. The kind of change required is immense, but it is only when we act on mass that we can make this kind of change. If enough of us get involved, we can show what is possible for the reef and the planet.
Rebuilding the Reef
Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef seeks the participation of 5000 Citizens. You can find out more at citizensgbr.org.