Scientists Say The Great Barrier Reef Needs Us

27.08.14 By
This article is more than 9 years old

New report by leading Australian scientists Dr Selina Ward & Ove Hoegh-Guldberg shows that the Great Barrier Reef is at a turning point.

This report was prepared by WWF Australia for Earth Hour


The great barrier reef is precious to everyone. Not only is it a wellspring of marine life, it is also a favourite holiday destination, a powerful generator of jobs, and one of our most prominent national icons. Its sheer size and complexity make it an essential part of earth’s biosphere.

But the Great Barrier Reef, like coral reefs everywhere, is at a turning point. If we don’t increase our commitment to solve the burgeoning stress from local and global sources, the Reef will disappear. This is not a hunch or alarmist rhetoric by green activists. It is the conclusion of the world’s most qualified coral reef experts.

Already Great Barrier Reef tour operators are worried about the future. After all, they know personally what losing the Great Barrier Reef would be to their businesses and livelihoods.

While the news on local threats to the reef is in itself of enormous concern, the future of the Great Barrier

Reef is even bleaker when climate change and ocean acidification are considered. The scientific consensus has concluded that further increases in CO2 and average global temperature are almost certain to destroy the coral communities of the Great Barrier Reef for hundreds if not thousands of years.

And without the coral, you don’t have the fish, and without the fish and coral, you don’t have the billion dollar tourism industry.

It is highly unlikely that coral reefs will survive more than a 2 degree increase in average global temperature relative to pre-industrial levels. But if the current trajectory of carbon pollution levels continues unchecked, the world is on track for at least three degrees of warming. The prospect of losing our Great Barrier Reef surely demands more attention from all of us. As we fail to take action on climate change and ocean acidification, we risk pushing the Great Barrier Reef closer to the point of no return. Each tiny upward step in average global temperature brings us ever closer to that final point where it will be too late to save the Great Barrier Reef.