The news that the Great Barrier Reef is under investigation by Unesco for listing it among the World Heritage Sites that are in danger comes as a shock for the whole country. On the other hand, it raises the critical question of how do we protect the precious oceans. Let's take a closer look at this urging issue.
The effects of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef
What the Great Barrier Reef represents for Australia is well documented. Its majestic beauty is indeed something else. There's no wonder why it's one of the seven Wonders of the Natural World along with sites like the Grand Canyon and Mount Everest. The threats that climate change represents though are real and imminent. A relevant strategic assessment of the vulnerability of Australia's biodiversity to climate change was referring to those threats more than a decade ago. Looking at its content today, we find that all of its predictions seem to become an unpleasant reality. Phenomena like the rising level of the sea, the continuing increase of the sea and air temperatures and the rising occurrence of extreme weather conditions are becoming the norm. There were major bleaching events in 2016, 2017 and 2020 that confirmed the assessment's prediction which was stating that “climate change is certain to cause further degradation.”
The economic implications for the Great Barrier Reef
A couple of weeks ago, there was a rather shocking news story Through the World Heritage Committee, Unesco recommended that the Great Barrier Reef be listed as “in danger”. This is not a final decision yet. The draft recommendation will be assessed next month by the World Heritage Committee at a meeting that will take place in China. Of course, the whole tourism industry of Australia is alarmed. If Unesco stands with its initial recommendation, the economic implications will be huge as the Great Barrier Reef attracts many tourists every year. The WWF states that its visitors boost the Australian economy by $ 5.4 billion a year. At the same time, approximately 69.000 earn their living by working there. Naturally, Australia will challenge Unesco as there seem to be political motivations. In all cases however and regardless of the political factor, the problem is there and there needs to be certain as well as intense action for preventing more negative consequences.
The roots of the environmental crisis
The case of the Great Barrier Reef is not the exception to the rule. The exact opposite is rather happening all around the globe. The environmental crisis is visible all around the globe and its effects are becoming increasingly intense. It did not come out of anywhere. On the contrary, it seems to be part of the overall structural crisis that characterises the wealthiest and more advanced countries of the world. The persistent tendency to gain financial profits by using environmentally harmful substances and the ongoing indifference to the alarming signs have led us to the point where instant action is necessary. The biosphere of our planet is endangered greatly. The extreme weather effects, the rise of the temperature, and the sea-level rise are very serious developments that could even put mankind's long-term existence under question. Planet earth is calling SOS and there shall be neither deaf ears nor blind eyes.
What we can do to save the oceans
Mankind is facing a threat that demands immediate action to take place. Protecting the Great Barrier Reef and the oceans of the planet is not a luxury but a necessity. Mentality change should concern not only the governments but also all citizens, all of us. There are certain steps to take for managing to reverse the situation and achieve a sustainable future.
Use of renewable energy
The use of renewable energy should be a top priority for all states. Its advantages are huge and can contribute significantly to reducing carbon dioxide and preventing global warming. Furthermore, it improves public health as several serious medical conditions, like cancer, heart attacks and breathing difficulties are linked to the use of coal and natural gas plants.
Waste management in oceans
The figures are striking: More than 55.000 containers of radioactive wastes were dumped at three ocean sites in the Pacific Ocean between 1946 and 1970. Almost 34.000 containers of radioactive wastes were dumped at three ocean sites off the East Coast of the United States from 1951 to 1962. There needs to be a total change of practices by increasing waste management and penalties for the companies that pollute as well as an increase of controls and education of the public for promoting personal responsibility.
Eating sustainable seafood
Saving the oceans is not only up to the government. The choices and practices of all citizens can play a crucial role. A great example of that is making intelligent choices when we want to eat seafood. Because of the overexploitation of the fisheries around the world, it is now very important that we won't eat carelessly. Eating small fish instead of big wild ones, choosing local fisheries and eating a lot of farmed shellfish can make a difference in achieving abundance in the oceans.
Changing the mindset
The challenges that stand before us demand a total change of our mindset and priorities. The actions of all people can play their part. Either it's demanding from our governors to take measurable action for protecting the environment or it's abolishing the use of plastic bags and bottles, every little action counts. This is probably the major task of the current generation and there can't be any delays. The culture of assigning to someone else-either it's a political party or an organisation- to “save” the planet, would not be enough. If we want to inherit a sustainable planet to future generations, there needs to be comprehensive and coherent action by all aware people all around the world.