The Green Medium is an Emerald Award-winning, youth-run blog that seeks to innovate how we discuss and inform ourselves on environmental concerns.

For the Love of the Reef

What is happening to the Great Barrier Reef?

A question many of you may be pondering as I title this entry with "For the Love of the Reef", a joint campaign put on by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) and Seed, Australia's first Indigenous youth climate network. Two groups I wholeheartedly endorse and I am currently supporting through volunteering. "For the Love of" is an annual celebration where participants raise funds to help protect the things they hold dear to their hearts that are currently endangered by climate change. it is a chance to voice opinions to fuel a wake-up call to the government and decision makers that are influencing, even encouraging a lot of this environmental devastation to progress. This year's " For the Love of" Campaign is focusing on the Great Barrier Reef, one of Australia's, and the world's most treasured natural wonders, housing thousands of species for both marine and sea vegetation, making it the Earth's largest living structure.

Great Barrier Reef.png

As some of you may know, the Australian federal government is on the verge of approving a $1 billion loan of taxpayers money to Adani, an Indian billionaire businessman proposing to build a coal mine in Northern Queensland, adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. This mine has not only been one of the most controversial proposals, it is deemed to be the largest coal mine built in the Southern Hemisphere. This is a crucial period in our world's history to protect our ocean from becoming too acidic. Massive ocean ecosystems, like the Great Barrier Reef, can collapse due to rising water temperatures and the nasty chemicals leaching into our waterways. The reef has already experienced detrimental bleaching, where 1,500km of the 2,300km (that is 2/3 of the reef) is bleached, dead, finito. 

Bleach GBR.jpg

It is estimated that it will take the fastest growing type of coral a decade... Ten years to grow back if the ocean's temperature can be lowered to a habitable state. The destruction of the reef is not only a loss for the amount of diverse life that calls the reef home but a loss for local economies that depend on the ecosystem for tourism and the fishing industry. The reef also is an invaluable tool in protecting the coastline from flooding during intense storms, which Queensland experiences typically during the months of November through to April, Northern Queensland sees the bulk of the tropical cyclones and monsoons. With rising sea levels and the depletion of aquatic life, people all over will feel its' devastation with the unfolding of natural disasters (major flooding, drought, hurricanes, heat-waves, extinction). Now hold your horses, I know what you are thinking "How is this issue still on the table when it is clearly a ridiculous proposal, building a coal mine beside the reef!?" I too find the whole scene contentious, but, it is what it is for the time being. Do not lose hope just yet! Queenslanders can sway their government to veto this loan if they see it causing complications for its state. To encourage the Queensland government to veto this proposal, volunteers are currently using their forces to collect surveys that broadcast the community's opinion on the issue and taking the results to the community's local MPs. As the first few street surveys are coming in, results are looking bright where a high percentage of people are against the coal mine (92% oppose the coal mine in Auchenflower's street survey September 2017 and 85% in Tainga, St. Lucia and Toowong street survey September 2017). Several are looking for more support towards renewable alternatives eg: wind, solar... (if you haven't filled out the survey, you can do so here http://bit.ly/adanisurvey).

 Volunteers with AYCC street surveying September 2017

Volunteers with AYCC street surveying September 2017

But community surveying is not going to cut it, it will make a good dent, yet, to take a real crack at this, the campaign is going to need a financial boost to get a leeway in promoting these efforts. With the Adani issue aside *coughs* #stopadani, I am choosing to give up chocolate during the two-week campaign. Anyone who knows me knows that chocolate is my life, always has been and will definitely stay put in my diet for as long as I can ride with it. Though I can conveniently source delicious and high-quality chocolate in town or online, the industry is facing serious challenges with our ever changing climate, problems that cannot easily be solved by simply clicking on the "checkout" button. 95% of chocolate plantations are located along the equator, thriving on delicate conditions, making the chocolate industry one of the most tedious and expensive industries for its' rarity in the success of their crops. Any slight variations in humidity levels, temperature, soil acidity, even surrounding vegetation can make or break a crop from yielding cacao pods for that season. It is common for crops of any species to experience a "bad output" where there may have been an insect infestation or a drought. Maybe there was an early frost that led the plant to go dormant too early in the season. The point being, common occurrences farmers experience every now and then is natural, unfortunate, but it is the way of life. In today's society, the rate that these former "occasional" strenuous circumstances are now frequenting an alarming standard the world and our ecosystems have never previously experienced. The Theobroma Cacao (chocolate tree... Yes chocolate comes from trees) is most susceptible to insect and fungal infestation, reducing its' productivity, which, in turn, ultimately forces families within the industry to abandon their crops to seek an alternative income. With increasing extreme climate conditions, farmers and lovers of chocolate will witness cataclysm to a vast archive of cacao-farming knowledge established over centuries. I love chocolate. I love how you can slip it into every single meal you eat in a day, tricking yourself into thinking it was just a "one-off" indulgence when really, chocolate has been confirmed as your full-time sidekick. I know chocolate has my back when I am feeling down, need a little pep talk energy kick or just feel like treating myself. The least I can do is lend a helping hand to my kindred spirit.

 Artwork by Yuko Fedrau, Sweetlollapalooza Fine Chocolates

Artwork by Yuko Fedrau, Sweetlollapalooza Fine Chocolates

How can you work your magic to protect chocolate?

Donate to this campaign!! (https://fortheloveof.org.au/donate - I will be joining "Clean Coral" team when it is created, you can donate to me directly "Monique Roy" or just generally to the campaign.) Every cent that is donated goes right back into our campaigns to drive our efforts to a higher plateau. If you have a few dollars you can spare, little by little, a little will become a lot (very important life lesson and fact). Aside from donating, please voice your concerns to local decision makers for projects that are contributing to our warming climate. Start a dialogue with friends and family. if one person can take away with them a little one liner fact about these intense issues, that is one person who can then branch out to a whole network of people, hence creating the domino effect. Contribute your skills and knowledge to groups who may need it most, get creative with how you can see yourself making a difference. Support companies that promote ethical and sustainable practices and can prove that they are following through with these promises! Chocolate plays a huge role in life, bringing economic growth and stability to small communities that in turn produce an exceptional product people have grown to adore.

What will you give up for the reef? 

 

[1]  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-10/great-barrier-reef-severe-coral-bleaching-hits-two-thirds/8429662

[2] http://www.bom.gov.au/cyclone/about/eastern.shtml

[3] http://time.com/coral/

[4] https://fortheloveof.org.au/page/about

[5] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-race-to-save-chocolate/

[6] AYCC QLD Volunteer Page

[7] http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/09/some-relief-great-barrier-reef

[8] https://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2016/04/22/bleaching-of-the-great-barrier-reef/

A New Chapter

This Term's Writer: Monique Roy