Great Barrier Reef authority issues urgent call to action to save iconic coral reef

If any organization understands the urgency to fight climate change to protect coral reefs, it’s the Great Barrier Reef Authority. And it just issued a dire call to action to protect the iconic habitat that is visible from space.

The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia is a major tourist attraction that is home to thousands of species of marine wildlife, including 1,500 species of fish along with turtles, sharks and various other animals, some of which are vulnerable or endangered.

But because of warming global temperatures which are causing warmer oceans, the Great Barrier Reef is disappearing as coral bleaching continues and the production of new coral decreases.

This not only threatens the reef itself, but all of the species that call it home.

In a new position statement from the Great Barrier Reef Authority, the group issued a warning calling for urgent action to fight climate change if the reef has any chance of survival.

“This change in climate is forecast to bring further destructive marine heatwaves due to increased sea
temperature,” the group wrote in their report. “Associated impacts from altered weather patterns — such as more intense storms, tropical cyclones and flood events — ocean acidification and rising sea level also damage coral reef ecosystems.”

“If the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions continues, global average temperature will continue to
increase rapidly,” the report continued. “This will cause the health of the Reef to continue to decline, with consequential effects on businesses and communities that depend on the Reef.”

Indeed, carbon emissions are only rising around the globe and are set to skyrocket in the United States as President Donald Trump opens up millions of acres of public lands to the fossil fuel industry.

Unfortunately, if we are going to save what’s left of this natural wonder of the world, humans need to take action immediately.

“Strong global action to curb climate change is needed urgently to give the Great Barrier Reef the
best chance of survival,” the report says. “Only the strongest and fastest possible action on climate change will reduce the risks and limit the impacts of climate change on the Reef. Further loss of coral is inevitable and can be minimised by limiting global temperature increase to the maximum extent possible.”

Coral reefs not only benefit marine wildlife, but humans, too. Coral reefs have been found to reduce coastal flooding, which would be worse without them. They are also a prime habitat for fish that make up a large chunk of the global food supply. If the coral dies, the fish won’t have anywhere to go and populations will dwindle.

The loss of coral reefs is not a joke. We need to take this threat seriously, and that means doing whatever it takes to end the fossil fuel industry and all of our other harmful activities that are having a negative impact on coral reefs and the oceans. Losing the Great Barrier Reef would mean losing a piece of our natural heritage. Is that what we really want?

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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