Scientists in Australia took out a full-page ad in The Courier Mail today in an attempt to draw attention to the plight of the Great Barrier Reef. They said there was a lack of coverage in the media and especially in the Courier Mail, the largest newspaper in the state of Queensland, which is home to the reef.
“The Great Barrier Reef is at a crisis point,” the letter in the ad, signed by a group called the Climate Council and 56 scientists who study the reef, reads. “Its future depends on how much and how quickly the world, including Australia, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit ocean warming.”
Yesterday, a report from the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce found that 93% of the reef has been affected by coral bleaching as a result of climate change-driven warming ocean temperatures and industrial pollution. That's an even more extreme figure than scientists had previously estimated.
The Great Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Area–the Australian government has committed to preserving it, putting together a plan to prevent it from being listed as endangered by UNESCO. But scientists say the government needs to take more decisive action to slow climate change if the reef is to have any chance of survival.
“One of the reasons we placed the ad in the Courier Mail was that we’ve seen very little coverage of the coral bleaching event in that paper and in fact there was a front-page story that said the coral bleaching event had been wildly exaggerated,” Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, told The Guardian.
The federal and state environment ministers held an emergency phone meeting after the Taskforce report was published, the Courier Mail reported. But whether any specific action to improve conditions for the reef will come out of that remains to be seen.