The Great Barrier Reef - Not all Hope Lost
The threat of climate change including the rise of temperatures and the threat of increasing natural disasters has kept the reef's biodiversity and beauty in danger for a number of years.
Earlier this year, UNESCO decided against changing the reef's status to 'in danger'.
There have been a number of reactions to this decision. Some have welcomed the decision, saying it allows Australia to get on with the business of repairing the reef.
Others have spoken against UNESCO's refusal to downgrade the reef's status.
The reef has suffered many coral bleaching episodes over the years, with three notable occurrences since 2016. Between cyclones damaging much of the North-Eastern coast of Australia throughout the 2000s and the rising temperature of sea levels causing damage to the reef's ecosystem, there is great concern about the ability of the reef to survive.
However, not all hope is lost for the Great Barrier Reef. The Coral Sea Foundation has recently found the reef, especially around Lizard Island, to be restoring itself to its former glory with gusto.
This comparison photo over a three year timespan shows the incredible recovery of the reef.
The coral that grows the fastest, however, is also the coral which is the most easily damaged. This calls for accelerated efforts to protect such coral against the effects of climate change.
Protecting the reef from further damage will just take hard work from governments and businesses across the world as well as citizens to mitigate the effects of climate change.
One of the greatest dangers currently facing the reef, aside from inaction on climate change, is misreporting and misinformation.
Many find they are disengaging from conversations about the reef due to conflicting information. One news report will say the reef is doomed, and there is no way to recover. The next report will tell the reader that these alarmist reports are over-the-top and ridiculous.
Where does the truth lie?
As with all story-telling, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
The reef is in great danger of suffering further at the hands of climate change. But not all hope is lost. Alarmist narratives can be harmful to the recovery of the reef as some may not commit to putting in the necessary effort to create a better future. Dismissive narratives can be more harmful by not allowing people to understand the real dangers of climate change.
Protection of the reef is vital to achieve Goal 14: Life Below Water. This can only be achieved through working towards Goal 13: Climate Action.
There are always a number of things you can do to work towards the Global Goals, especially the protection of the Great Barrier Reef. These include by taking steps in your own life to reduce your reliance on plastic, not to over-consume where possible and to be more conscious about what leaves your household through your water system. Actions you could take also include writing to your local political representatives or large corporates who you would like to see take more action on protecting the reef and mitigating climate change.