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Monday, May 27, 2024
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Climate pollution is “cooking” the reef

THE Climate Council is sounding the alarm on a severe bleaching event unfolding across the Great Barrier Reef, with new vision showing the damage that stretches more than 1100 kilometres from Lizard Island to the Keppel Islands.

Marine heatwaves are bleaching swathes of the Southern Great Barrier Reef white, which has allegedly brought direct observers to tears.

With an ominous marine forecast for the coming weeks, authorities could declare another mass bleaching event.

The Reef, a cherished global icon and home to diverse marine life and a cornerstone of Australian natural heritage, faces repeated and escalating threats from climate pollution, caused by the burning of coal, oil, and gas, including more frequent and severe marine heatwaves.

Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said that “relentless” pollution from coal, oil and gas is Australia’s number one environmental problem.

“It’s literally cooking the reef,” she said.

“Our environmental protection laws are outdated and in desperate need of an overhaul to prevent new reef-destroying gas and coal projects.

“Australians expect our national environment law will protect the precious natural environments like the Great Barrier Reef, and the numerous communities that depend upon it – not destroy them.

“Unless this law is fixed to make climate pollution a core consideration, the Great Barrier Reef will continue to deteriorate before our children’s eyes.” 

Climate Councillor Professor Lesley Hughes said that as ocean temperatures continue to increase, the Great Barrier Reef is in grave danger.

“The composition and diversity of our once mighty Reef has already been changed after repeated marine heatwaves and mass bleaching events driven by the relentless burning of coal, oil and gas,” she said.

“Our focus must be on limiting further harm as much as possible.

“Australians understand the Reef is irreplaceable – many Queensland workers and communities rely directly on it for their livelihoods, and every one of us depends on a healthy ocean.

“Scientists and tour operators are being brought to tears by what they’re observing.

“The Reef can be restored, but it needs at least a decade to recover from a severe bleaching event, and the only way to ensure that can happen is to rapidly reduce climate pollution from coal, oil and gas. 

“The only way to safeguard the Great Barrier Reef as well as everyone and everything that depends on it is to cut climate pollution at the source.”

Climate Council Fellow and reef expert Dr Dean Miller said that if the heat stress continues, there will be more widespread bleaching affecting a higher diversity of coral species –  a major concern for the reef’s health and ultimately its resilience.

Keep up with the latest news in Cairns and the Far North, and check out some of our top stories this week: Restrictive health data systems limit health care and Division 7 independent promises liveability.

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