(and here is how we can keep it alive)
‘If I want to go for a second one’, he asks. I remain in silence. I do not know. I have to process. Process what I’ve seen. The disappointment, the sadness. It cannot be true, I think. I hope.
And often as things go bad, you have to give it a second try. So that is what I do. When we arrive at the second spot, I jump into the water again. I want to see that the Great Barrier Reef is still alive, although I have seen so much of its dead by now.
The Battle of the Reef
The first dive was disappointing. There were not a lot of colors, not a lot of coral, not a lot of fish. There was not a lot of many things, except for emptiness and dead. They said it was caused by the low visibility, but I know better, unfortunately.
The reef is fighting. Fighting for its life. In 2016 and 2017 it went through two mass bleaching events, which caused half of the remaining reef (since 1988) to die. Which actually means that half of it is still alive. It is. The reef is not dead (yet).
But the Great Barrier Reef, the biggest reef systems in the world, is suffering severely. It is suffering from climate change, from agricultural pesticides and fertilizers and sediments flowing in, from the crown-of-thorns starfish who eats the coral, and from ocean acidification.
The Great Barrier Reef is fighting for its survival, but it needs time. On average it takes a decade for the reef to recover from a major event, such as a cyclone or a bleaching event. Yet, the events are following each other up year after year. There is no time to recover, hence the reef is dying a slow dead.
Unless we would stop global warming, the reef cannot survive. But we are not. Contrary, the Australian government recently gave permission to yet another coal mine to open its doors. It will be one of the biggest coal mines in the world – even after the original seize was reduced. But I will talk more about Adani in another blogpost later on.
In addition, the global Paris Agreement won’t save us either, since the agreement in theory will cause a warming of 2degrees and in practice one of 3 degrees. By 1.5 degrees warming solely, we will lose 95% of the reef, by any degrees warmer, we will lose it all.
If you fuck with the reef, you fuck with all of us. People might not care about the reef, because it is invisible to most of us, unless you go diving. And even then, few divers see what I see or what marine biologist see.
But the reef does matter a lot. Oceans produce 50 to 85% of the world’s oxygen. They are the largest heath and carbon dioxide capture on the planet, and hence they keep the temperature of the earth liveable. They produce fish and food for animal and human being.
Take away the coral, and you take away the first card of the card house. You push the first block of the domino game. You pull the lever of an entire chain. With us at, human civilisation as we know, at the far end.
The end of the coral is the beginning of a catastrophe which will hurt us all.
So gear up, spread the message, push the politicians and the companies to curb their carbon dioxide emissions, and try to save the reef as it saves us now.
Learn more about the fight on my vlog or in my next blogpost.