Great Barrier Reef dead and dying

Great barrier Reef (KTaylor cc-by-sa 2.0)


The fight against global warming is long but over. It has come to the point where the world has to say goodbye to some of the most beautiful natural wonders it has to offer. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is one of them.

By Laurens Bammens

The Great Barrier Reef is estimated to be between 6000 and 8000 years old. Yet in 2016, it has shrunk by about a third of its size. The coral reef is 2300 kilometres long next to the east coast of Australia. According to researcher Terry Hughes, about 35 per cent of the corals are dead or dying.

The ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef is very delicate. The loss in corals are casualties from El Nino. The storm made the water temperature in the area rise and global warming made it even worse. The rise in temperature is devastating for the reef, like after a forest fire. It is the third major catastrophe for the reef in the last twenty years.

Tourism will go to

Climate change is the greatest threat to the health of the reef. That does not only mean the reef itself, but also the marine life it sustains. On top of that, the reef is a major tourist attraction in Australia. The loss of tourism could be a disaster for the Australian economy. Last week, Australia asked the United Nations to scratch a chapter on the Great Barrier Reef in a report on global warming.

The deletion of the chapter is about the most action the Australian government has undertaken so far. They seem to be stuck in administrative arguments. Theage.com reported that the government has spent 400 000 AUD (about 290 000 USD) on overseas trips by the environment minister and senior public servants. Their goal was to lobby against an ‘in danger’ listing of the Great Barrier Reef.

‘Recent experiences in Australia showed us that negative commentary about the status of world heritage impacted on tourism’, was the Australian statement on the UN climate report. The argument seems to be a bit counter-intuitiv e. Either the tourists will stay away because of negative press, or they will stay away because the Reef will seas to exist.

Carbon emission trading

Leader of the Labour Party, Bill Shorten, has pledged 377 million AUD (est. 273 million USD) to fund research and management of the Great Barrier Reef. Yet, to really succeed, a system of carbon trading is essential to manage climate change.

Carbon emission trading is a concept that has sparked interest all over the world, including Turkey. It was invented under the failed Kyoto Protocol. That agreement set a maximum standard of CO2 emission per country. Countries going over their limit could purchase ‘clean air’ from countries that were under. Economist have reached no consensus on the matter however, since it is hard to put a value on something you cannot physically hold.

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