UNESCO determines that the Great Barrier Reef is NOT in danger, despite 60% of it affected by bleaching
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee announced Friday that it will not list the Great Barrier Reef as endangered after two days of deliberations that saw Australians hold their breath for fear a new classification would damage the image of the natural wonder.
An ‘at risk’ listing means that a site is under threat and action must be taken to address issues or it could lose its World Heritage status.
The committee, which is organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), met today to discuss the issue, as more than 60 percent of corals are affected by bleaching related to climate change.
The idea of moving it to the endangered list was not from the Australian government, but was suggested by 13 public figures, including actors and journalists.
The letter, signed by the likes of ‘Aquaman’ actor Jason Momoa and ocean explorer Philippe Cousteau: ‘Over the past five years, three severe coral bleaching events fueled by global warming have resulted in massive coral deaths.
“The scientific evidence is beyond dispute: the Great Barrier Reef is in danger and it’s time to act.”
However, the July 20 proposal fell on deaf ears and ended with the denial of UNESCO’s decision to designate the Great Barrier Reef as endangered.
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The UNESCO World Heritage Committee announced Friday it will not list the Great Barrier Reef as endangered after two days of deliberations that saw Australians hold their breath for fear a new classification could damage the image of the natural wonder
The committee instead asks that by February 2022 to report to: highlight the conservation status of the Great Barrier Reef and the measures that will be taken to ensure its survival.
Another evaluation will take place in 2023.
David Ritter, CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, commented on the decision, saying it was not an “achievement” but “a day of shame for the Australian government.”
“Under the UNESCO treaty, the Australian government promised the world that it would do its utmost to protect the reef – instead, it has done its utmost to hide the truth,” he said. Yahoo News.
The Great Barrier Reef stretches for 1,429 miles along the coast of Australia and although it is huge and one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World
The committee, organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), met today to discuss the issue as more than 60 percent of corals are affected by bleaching related to climate change.
“This is a victory for one of the most cynical lobbying efforts in recent history.”
Imogen Zethoven, advisor to the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said the reef remains at risk from “rising sea temperatures, poor water quality and unsustainable fishing practices.”
Stretching 1,429 miles along the coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, which also includes the Northern Lights, the Grand Canyon, and Mount Everest.
However, the beautiful coral is dying more slowly due to human activities and report from the Australian Academy of Science in April revealed that 99 percent of them could disappear by 2025 as a result of climate change.
The commission instead calls for a report by February 2022 on the conservation status of the Great Barrier Reef and the measures that will be taken to ensure its survival
Researchers discovered that if the 2.7F (1.5C) degree of warming continues, the world’s largest coral reef system will eventually perish.
The natural wonder is expected to shrink, but if the Earth experiences a 3.6F (2C) warming, only one percent of the coral will remain.
The team also notes that with Earth’s current greenhouse gas emissions, it is likely that humanity will exceed 2.7F (1.5C) by 2025, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
In fact, the Great Barrier Reef was hit by intense and destructive bleaching last year – the third time in five years.
Aerial surveys of 1,036 reefs in the past two weeks have shown that the northern, central and southern areas have been affected, James Cook University professor Terry Hughes told AFP.
The bleaching event came just weeks after the highest monthly temperatures ever recorded on the reef since the Bureau of Meteorology began keeping sea surface records in 1900.
Coral expels small marine algae when sea temperatures rise, turning them white
Corals have a symbiotic relationship with a small marine algae called ‘zooxanthellae’ that live in and feed them.
When the sea surface temperature rises, corals expel the colorful algae. The loss of the algae causes them to fade and turn white.
This bleached condition can last up to six weeks, and while corals can recover as temperatures drop and algae return, severely bleached corals die and become covered by algae.
In either case, this makes it difficult to distinguish between healthy corals and dead corals on satellite images.
This bleaching has recently killed up to 80 percent of corals in some areas of the Great Barrier Reef.
These types of bleaching events are four times more common worldwide than they used to be.
An aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The Great Barrier Reef’s corals have undergone two consecutive bleaching events, in 2016 and earlier this year, raising experts’ concerns about reefs’ ability to survive under global warming.