Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Australia Downgrades Great Barrier Reef Outlook to 'Very Poor'

Climate
Half bleached coral in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. JAYNE JENKINS / CORAL REEF IMAGE BANK

The government agency that manages Australia's Great Barrier Reef on Friday downgraded its outlook for the condition of the coral system from "poor" to "very poor."


The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's (GBRMPA) report blamed climate change for coral bleaching, which occurs as a result of rising sea temperatures.

"Significant global action to address climate change is critical to slowing the deterioration of the reef's ecosystem and heritage values and supporting recovery," said the five-year review of the world's largest coral reef system.

Bleaching and other factors

But the agency added that the threats to the 2,300-kilometer (1,400-mile) reef were "multiple, cumulative and increasing."

Agricultural runoff, coastal land clearing and coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish were also to blame for its woes, the report said.

GBRMPA's Chief Scientist David Wachenfeld told reporters in Sydney that despite the threat, "with the right mix of local actions to improve the resilience of the system and global actions to tackle climate change ... we can turn that around."

Located off the northeast Australian coast, the Great Barrier Reef is home to 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusks.

Scientists have been concerned about the health of the coral network for decades. In 2012, a study found the reef has lost more than half its coral cover since 1985.

A 2017 study published in the journal Nature found that 91 percent of the reef had been bleached at least once during three bleaching events of the past two decades.

A fourth significant bleaching struck later in 2017 after the report was published.

Australia: Mining prioritized

Australia's conservative government has faced criticism for favoring an expansion of its massive coal mining, the country's biggest export, over action to curb climate change.

New government data released this week showed that Australia's emissions of greenhouse gases, blamed for climate change, continued a four-year rising trend during the first half of 2019.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley said she was not surprised by the downgrade given the damage done by recent cyclones and latest bleaching events.

But she insisted that the Great Barrier reef "is the best-managed reef in the world."

Resilience-building program

The Canberra government earlier this year announced a $380 million (€312 million) program to breed more resilient coral.

However, the downgrade has boosted calls for UNESCO to revoke the reef's status as a World Heritage site, which would be an embarrassment for the government.

The reef is estimated to be worth at least $4 billion a year to Australia's economy.

Reposted with permission from our media associate DW.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pixabay

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Unhealthy foods play a primary role in many people gaining weight and developing chronic health conditions, more now than ever before.

Read More Show Less
A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less
Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less

"Emissions from pyrotechnic displays are composed of numerous organic compounds as well as metals," a new study reports. Nodar Chernishev / EyeEm / Getty Images

Fireworks have taken a lot of heat recently. In South Dakota, fire experts have said President Trump's plan to hold a fireworks show is dangerous and public health experts have criticized the lack of plans to enforce mask wearing or social distancing. Now, a new study shows that shooting off fireworks at home may expose you and your family to dangerous levels of lead, copper and other toxins.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons. Curtis Palmer / CC by 2.0

By Ashutosh Pandey

Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons (Mt), or 7.3 kilogram per person, a UN report showed on Thursday.

Read More Show Less