The biggest news item to be affecting Australia right now is both the recent release of the new budget and the largest bleaching effect that is happening to the Great Barrier Reef (well the world in total).
Firstly, let’s address both of these issues separately.
What is coral bleaching?
This short clip briefly describes what is happening at this very moment.The coral bleaching is not just happening on the Australian coastline though. It was recently reported to have even spread to the Amazon River in South America. The obvious report demonstrates that this phenomenon is critical to our environmental life but what people aren’t aware of, is how much damage our economy will sustain.
Budget or bugger off?
Currently, the Great Barrier Reef, as well as the other Australian reefs, contribute around $5.4 billion to the Australian economy and provides 69,000 jobs. But coral bleaching won’t just affect Australia [WWF]. There was a recent study conducted which produced results showing that the world’s coral reef ecosystems gave a total net benefit of $29.8 billion/year [CoralReef] with Hawaii’s reef systems alone having economic benefits of $360 million/year.
With such a huge impact and the World Heritage Status, you would think that the Australian government would be doing anything and everything in their power to help support and minimise the damage on these reefs. At the outlook for the budget for 2016/2017, their biggest initiatives were two large Defence operations. $537.7m large to be exact [Budget]. Both these initiatives are almost double the amount that is being spent on the rest of the initiatives combined. The ‘Clean and renewable Energy Innovation’, which would make the most impact, sits just below the funding for the Western Sydney Airport. We are literally paying to pollute the air and raise the heat of the atmosphere rather than figure out efforts to lower the impacts on oceans and therefore the reefs.
In 2015, Tony Abbott approved a plan that allowed for sediment and dredging to be dumped within the wider World Heritage Area, however not on the Marine Park. Seriously? For being such an avid swimmer, Tony Abbott does not seem to know the ocean. Even someone who does not know how to swim knows that ocean currents could easily carry the dredging and sediment up onto the reef. A World Heritage Site is classified as being of special physical significance. I’m not sure what else could live up to that title in the same way the GBR has.
We are paying to destroy our reef. I’m not sure how many people could answer to what our highest paying initiative is. In all honesty, I wouldn’t have been able to either.With only years or even months left with our precious reef, we should not only be questioning what is our government doing to support the Great Barrier Reef’s life, but what can we do?