[131] Saving the Great Barrier Reef

As I explained in previous blogpost and on my vlog, the Great Barrier Reef is fighting, but we can help it!

Besides stopping global warming, there are some small steps to take to save the reef. Or better, to help it recover and be resilient. In Cairns I talked to various organisations who came up with innovative solutions to give the reef a hand – not a hug, because the reef does not like you to touch it at all!

So, here are a few innovative and ambitious examples

  1. Reef restoration project

There are many projects going on – all over the world actually – to help coral regrow, and hence to restore the reef systems. I’ve seen various ones in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand actually.

  1. Coral embryo’s

The Australian Institute for Marine Science (AIMS) is piloting a coral embryo project. By taking a parent coral of the northern part that survived the bleaching events – and hence is more heat resistant – and a parent plant of the southern part, they are trying to breed new corals that are more heat resistant, and hence have higher survival chances.

  1. Starfish hunt

Another predator of the reef is the crown-of-thorns starfish which likes eating the reef. For some reason – there are various hypotheses – there are huge plagues of this kind of starfish, eating the reef at an extremely fast speed – they can eat their own weight a day and their body spans more than the seat of a chair, so try to picture that. Since they are with millions out there, there are some starfish control programs, to give the reef a chanse of surviving against this numerous enemy.

  1. Water quality programs

The reef gets stressed out because sediments, pesticides and fertilizers are flowing into the water out of the adjacent crop fields – mostly sugarcane – hence, stimulating the farmers to reduce the amount of fertilizer and pesticides used, and to replant original vegetation in order to curb the sediment flow, are other big tasks to carry out.

  1. Cooling the reef

A group of scientists of the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre developed a project to locally cool the reef. By installing a kind of turbine at the bottom of the reef, they would be able to re-establish the optimal conditions for the reef during a bleaching event. By moving the cold water of the lower layers of the ocean through the hot standing-still water on top, they create a flow of cooler water that can help the reef survive bleaching events.

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Sitting back…

Eventhough all these projects are small-scale and not sufficient to cover the entire reef – which is as big as Japan or Germany – they are reaching the reef a hand to get through this stressful time caused by human impacts.

Because climate change is not about to stop any soon, especially not as what I mentioned in the previous blogpost on the Australian climate change policy. Hence, while it is obvious that we have to stop global warming eventually to save the reef, in the meantime we cannot just sit back and relax and watch the reef dying. These projects might look like bandages, but at least they try to help to keep the reef alive, and if climate change ever stops, there is something left to start all over again.

Adani was voted true, meaning the production and consumption of coal will go up which results in more greenhouse gas emissions, which is terrible….because it will create huge changes in the world as we know it and the first one to die are the reefs… and the reef will be just the first step of the domino-effect that will be caused. After the reef comes the fish, comes the animals (and humans) who eat the fish, comes the people who eat the animals, comes the changes in ecosystems who relied on those animals for reproduction, food, maintenance, … comes us…. And in the meantime, the warming ocean and acidification will result in (1) less oxygen production, (2) less cooling of the planet, and hence directly affect the liveability of the earth as we know it.

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Or stepping up …

So, what will we do, sit back and watch it dying or save as much as possible, while the Big Oil and Big Politicians deliver their battle on keep the mining open and keep up the emissions? They are for sure to blame, but with finger-pointing and being angry alone we are not going to save the planet, so save the reef before it is too late and HOPE those Big Oil, Coal, and whoever companies and politicians make up their mind before it is too late as well.

So, talk to research institutions, there is the Drone project to map and collect data and there is the cooling project, and there is the starfish hunt, and there is the agriculture project, … addressing all stressors. If we are on the titanic, this is the least we can do, take women and children off board while the tanker is sinking, but we don’t have to let it sink with everything on it. As the captain – the politicians and the big companies and industry – don’t want to change the route, why the heck would we stay on board.

Climate change is about mitigation and adaptation.

Don’t let the reef die to teach the politicians a lesson, because they even did not after the mass bleaching event of 2016 and 2017…. Save the reef and let the politicians sink, if they make up their mind, they can still save it.

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