Australia Pledges $500M to Protect Great Barrier Reef

Australia has been making waves in the environmental newsfeed this past year with some fantastic headlines: its energy sector powered 70% of the country’s homes using only renewable sources, a huge permaculture farm fed dozens and dozens of families with only organic produce, and even without human help, a supposedly extinct species of insectivore suddenly showed up. But this Sunday, Australia made just about its biggest wave yet.

Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull pledged more than 500 million Australian dollars for the protection of the Great Barrier Reef — the greatest single investment that this reef or any other coral ecosystem in the world has ever received.

[T]he Great Barrier Reef Foundation, a national non-profit . . . will use the money to counter water pollution, combat coral-eating starfish, increase public awareness, boost reef monitoring, and improve the environmental impact of surrounding businesses . . . The funds will also be used to expand reef restoration efforts, including trialling new techniques that can breed corals resistant to high temperatures and light stress.

For a while now, the Great Barrier Reef, which hosts about 400 types of coral and 1,500 species of fish, is known to be in great danger. Its damage — including coral bleaching and ocean acidification — can be traced to climate change as a consequence of burning fossil fuels, harmful coastal development, and continuous fishing despite the already-present negative effects. A 2016 study even said that more than 90% of the reef has already been affected by coral bleaching.

However, Australia’s environment and energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, is confident that “the right plan and the right investment” will help secure what he describes as a “remarkably resistant” reef . . . “The more we understand about the reef, the better we can protect it . . . Millions of dollars will go into science and to better data management and to be able to test the impacts on the reef.”

Of course, we must inevitably mull over the damage humans have caused the beautiful coral ecosystem in the past decades, but it seems to have been resilient in maintaining itself and in forgiving us. Perhaps the millions of dollars pledged to its protection can finally help us start to make up for the damage and deserve its forgiveness. I honestly can’t help but hope it’s better late than never for us and the Great Barrier Reef.

 

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

Belize Puts Indefinite Ban On Oil Drilling

Though global efforts to counter climate change have been plentiful, greed remains on top of the food chain. Man has exploited nature to no end. While the earth is slowly recovering, not every starfish will save itself. Of the nations participating in oil explorations, little Belize has had enough. As the Trump administration opens more waters to drilling, Belize is placing a moratorium on its own.

“Belize is a small country making a mighty commitment to putting the environment first,” says Nadia Bood, a reef scientist with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The developing country produces some 3,000 barrels of profitable oil per day, but its people know better. Despite a gleaming export income, the nation-that-could believes more in the value of its coral reefs.

“Ending oil activities will encourage other countries to follow suit and take the urgent action that is needed to protect our planet’s oceans,” says Chris Gee, a campaigner at WWF.

With a $200 million annual tourism cut that supports 190,000 livelihoods, banning excavations may not be a misstep after all.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

Endangered Starfish Resurface After 3 Years

Efforts to restore coral beds by returning oyster shells to reefs may be making an impact — but not for sea stars. Plagued by star wasting syndrome in 2013, the majestic creatures saw an uneasy population decline. However, a miraculous turn of events has seen the distinguished species resurface in Southern California.

“It’s a huge difference… A couple of years ago, you wouldn’t find any. I dove all the way as far as Canada, specifically looking for sea stars, and found not a single one,” … said Darryl Deleske, an aquarist at San Pedro, California’s Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

While die-offs have occurred in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, climate change has amplified its latest comeback. With no solid explanation to star wasting syndrome, the disease is tricky. Still, researchers have offered a number of theories.

Scientists suggested that parvovirus, which can be carried by other invertebrates, might be linked to the disease, with the viral agent possibly “going rogue.”

The sea star’s resurgence may be a conundrum even the Mystery Gang can’t solve — but a fortunate one at that!

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends: