Friday, November 11, 2011

The Great Barrier Reef - or to quote from 4 Corners "The Great Barrier Grief"

What are Australian politicians at local, state and federal levels allowing to be done to our beloved Great Barrier Reef?

How can they possibly look themselves in the face, look at their children and grandchildren, family and friends and tell them that they condone massive dredging in not just one, but up to 6 or more areas along the coast near this exquisite world heritage area?

Dredging for massive ports to allow huge tankers to transport coal seam gas for export - for sale to the highest international bidder.

Exporting our natural resources to countries which may have even less interest in environmental sustainability and clean renewable energy than we do. Countries which have fewer community members who are able to take a stand and object.  Countries where fewer people will understand the potential cost to Australians and anyone who has ever gazed in awe at the Great Barrier Reef and wondered at the beauty and amazing colours in the astoundingly diverse range of marine plants and animals who call it home.

I'm appalled at what's happening up in Queensland near the town of Gladstone. I knew the Great Barrier Reef was a World Heritage Area and assumed that that meant it would be afforded some protection from the voracious mining interests nearby. It appears not.

A disturbing documentary from our most reputable investigative reporters on 4 Corners explored what is happening and the extremely concerned response from UNESCO (United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation which is responsible for protecting world heritage listed sites like the Great Barrier Reef).

4 Corners report here

Millions of cubic metres of sea floor (a mix of toxic sludge from land and waterways runoff including pesticides and contaminants from the recent floods) are being dredged inland of the Great Barrier Reef, and dumped close to the World Heritage Area to make way for massive new coal seam gas export facilities. The sludge is to be dumped within 1km of the world heritage site.  It has the so alarmed UNESCO that they're warning the Reef could lose its iconic world heritage status. If that happens the ripple effect to the tourism industry affecting jobs there could be huge.

The areas being dredged include sea grass and mangroves which are important fish breeding grounds, as well as being home to marine creatures including turtles and dugong.
The reef is already stressed. Being so close to major shipping will expose it to further risk of spills and groundings which happened recently during a storm, resulting in kilometres of damage to the fragile corals.

The fishing industry is concerned as stocks appear to be showing the effect of exposure to toxins in the water. Locally caught fish have bleeding lesions and 'exploding red eye'. With breeding grounds being dredged, the fishing industry will be sorely affected. Fish suppliers are concerned about the quality of the local fish, and some are refusing to sell local catches.

(This link was inserted 21 May 2012) and includes a brief update. A couple of days ago a tanker became sticken near the reef. A disaster was averted, but it's a taste of things to come.

November 9th 2012 update. Things aren't improving, in fact they appear to be getting worse. New post here with two petitions.

GetUp is an independent, not-for-profit community campaigning group who were concerned enough to create a petition calling on the Federal Environment Minister to "Immediately halt all dredging in the Gladstone Harbour and Great Barrier Reef and not to approve any major coastal developments until the UNESCO strategic assessment has been completed." GetUp will deliver the petition to UNESCO in Paris.
(The following is quoted from GetUp)      "As The Age recently put it- what's of primary concern is the "vast dredging program" associated with the construction of three coal seam gas plants located inside the reef's World Heritage area. "The Gladstone Ports Corporation (GPC) has approvals to dredge 46 million cubic metres from within the harbour boundaries, inside the World Heritage area, over the next 20 years...a volume equivalent to 27 Melbourne Cricket Grounds.   
Environment Minister Tony Burke has so far refused to stand up for the Reef, a priceless and fragile site of significance not just to Australia, but to the world. Imagine if the Pyramids were being bulldozed or the Grand Canyon mined -- the global community would be furious ... UNESCO are sending a special delegation in March to investigate what is happening - but that's too late to stop the damage happening now. 
Meanwhile, UNESCO are being lobbied hard by the insatiable coal seam gas industry. And although they failed to even tell UNESCO about the project, the state and federal governments would have us simply trust them to monitor and regulate this crazy project -- claiming it's possible to dredge up 46 million cubic metres of reef inside a world heritage site provided there's sufficient environmental oversight. If the Australian Government won't stand up for the Great Barrier Reef as it's ripped up for corporate profit, we will.
That's why we've created an urgent petition, as we prepare to launch this campaign on the global stage. 
The fragile and unique ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef is already under intense pressure due to earlier floods and a changing climate. We've witnessed a steep increase in the rates of death of endangered marine wildlife this year -- including dolphins, dugongs and turtles. The massive development for the coal seam gas industry may well prove too much for it to handle. 
Coal seam gas mining is now affecting our communities and environment, from the family farm to the deep blue sea, and once these areas are destroyed, no amount of money will ever bring them back. Sign the petition now, and if you're on Twitter and Facebook, be sure to share this emergency call to action with your friends. 
Thank you for using your voice now, The GetUp team
What do you think?



Betty Alark said...

Greetings, Sue!

Thanks for that valuable information.

It's unfortunate how the earth all over the world is being destroyed in some fashion.

Commercialism/money/greed are the culprits and unless and perhaps not even then - people stand up and take a stand nothing will be done about it.

It is unfortunate- that we the people - that care about our environment have to be the ones to suffer the consquences of those that care more about money gratification than how their actions are affecting/effecting the planet.

so- im all for letting my voice be heard!

Much success!!


sue said...

Betty, I find it so sad that the desire for money overrides people's pleasure in, and respect for the natural environment - which we are dependent on for our very existence. Great that you're letting your voice be heard too. Have a good weekend

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