Tuesday, March 21, 2017

N.Y. Times: Large Sections of Australia’s Great Reef Are Now Dead, Scientists Find

The shadow of an airplane fell on bleached coral
in the northern Great Barrier Reef in March 2016.
Credit James Kerry/
ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
The Great Barrier Reef in Australia has long been one of the world’s most magnificent natural wonders, so enormous it can be seen from space, so beautiful it can move visitors to tears.

But the reef, and the profusion of sea creatures living near it, are in profound trouble.

Huge sections of the Great Barrier Reef, stretching across hundreds of miles of its most pristine northern sector, were recently found to be dead, killed last year by overheated seawater. More southerly sections around the middle of the reef that barely escaped then are bleaching now, a potential precursor to another die-off that could rob some of the reef’s most visited areas of color and life.

“The state of coral reefs is a telling sign of the health of the seas. Their distress and death are yet another marker of the ravages of global climate change.”

U.S. President Donald Trump, however, is a climate change denier, calling climate change a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese. He has filled his administration with climate change deniers, and it’s a belief held by many congressional Republicans. As a consequence, the Trump administration is committed to eliminating/reducing regulatory environmental protections, as well as turning our country away from the Obama era clean energy initiatives and back to fossil fuels to meet our energy needs.  

If we let them, Trump and the Republicans will destroy the place we call home. China, on the other hand, is committed to an energy policy that will keep safe the place they call home, and at the same time contribute to making our world environmentally safe for all of us. 

An uninhabitable earth at some point in our future is not an unreasonable thought. Years of disregard for mother earth can cause components of the earth system to change. We should not shrug off warnings of cataclysmic environmental transformations such as what is happening to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

And, for Trump and those who think that climate change warnings are a hoax, a hullabaloo over nothing, scoffing at the idea of an impending environmental catastrophe, I have one question: what if you’re wrong? What harm can come from taking meaningful action now rather than wait until it’s too late.