As we are all continuing to digest the headlines that broke last month regarding the massive Amazon Rainforest fires in Brazil, another distressing headline has emerged from another part of the world. According to the Australian government, the long-term health of in Australia has been downgraded from ‘poor’ to ‘very poor.’ The last time Australia released a report on the health of the was back in 2014 when it received its former ‘poor’ status. Now, after just 5 short years, the Great Barrier Reef has continued to suffer and deteriorate rapidly, earning it a status that should concern citizens worldwide. Researchers are pointing to as the reason why the Reeis not improving and declining more quickly than ever. 

Inside the 2019 Great Barrier Reef Report 

According to the 2019 Outlook Report released by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, an Australia government agency, the “window of opportunity to improve the Reef’s long-term future is now.” As climate change has escalated, damage to the Reef has ensued. To mitigate these effects, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is calling for immediate action worldwide to combat climate change to help restore the Great Barrier Reef. 

The damage that the Reef has experienced from climate change is most readily seen in the coral color bleaching that has occurred over the last several years. To understand the damages from climate change on the Reef’s coral, it is important to know that algae and coral have a symbiotic relationship – they depend on one another to survive. When coral is healthy, the algae flock to them and provide nourishment to the coral. Under times of extreme heat and light exposure, coral becomes stressed and the partnership begins to breakdown. Eventually, the coral will be expelled of all algae and turn white. As a result of climate change and , there has been a fivefold increase in severe bleaching events over the past four decades. As of 2018, coral growth has been reduced by 90 percent. 

Back in 2014 when the last report was released, the greatest threats to the Reef included climate change, coastal developments, land runoff, and certain types of fishing. Now, climate change has effectively outweighed all other threats and is now the primary concern among researchers. The Great Barrier Reef just so happens to be the world’s largest living structure – and perhaps, a sobering representation of the damage climate change has done to our planet thus far. 

What is in Store for the Great Barrier Reef? 

Although the report on the Great Barrier Reef is quite grim, some positive changes have come about in recent years. Due to conservation efforts in the region, populations of both southern green sea turtles and humpback whales are slowly growing. Certain areas of the Reef are also showing signs of water quality improvement. 

Despite some promising improvements, however, the report states that by 2030, we may see a much drabber Reef with less fish, major losses to seagrass meadows, and continued threats from heatwaves. The report urges action on the part of those in the region, but also across the world. Combating climate change is a worldwide responsibility. If we are to see any improvement to the Great Barrier Reef, action must be taken immediately. 

The Time to Fight Climate Change is Now 

It seems that with each passing week, headlines describe a new catastrophe or disaster plaguing our planetFrom glacier melting, to rainforests on fire, and now, the threat to the Great Barrier Reef, it is safe to say we are in dire need of a revolution. If humanity as a whole is going to stubbornly insist on continuing down this path of willful negligence and ignorance regarding the health of our planet, we can expect to see more of these discouraging reports coming forth in the mainstream media.  

Climate change deniers and those who choose to turn a blind eye to the severity of the problem are simply not paying attention. The time to act is now. That is, if we are not already too late to make a radical, positive shift in the right direction. Ultimately, whether or not our planet will be inhabitable 50 to 100 years from now will be humanity’s choice. So far, we are choosing to destroy our home swiftly and without apology. 

Read the official 2019 Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report here: http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/our-work/outlook-report-2019 

Resources: 

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/30082019/coral-bleaching-great-barrier-reef-climate-change-australia-ocean-2019-report 

https://www.npr.org/2019/08/30/755846052/australia-says-great-barrier-reef-has-very-poor-outlook-climate-change-to-blame 

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