The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system, is in a dismal state. One-third of the reef was killed when ocean temperatures spiked in 2016 and now faces a full ecosystem collapse. Given the severity of the situation, Australia has pledged more than 500 million Australian dollars ($379 million U.S.) to restore and protect the reef from the effects of climate change!
The funding is part of a conservation plan in which the Australian government is partnering with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to “improve and monitor the long-term health of the reef,” CNN reports. The money will be used to improve water quality, control predators such as the crown-of-thorns starfish, a poisonous coral-eating predator, and expand reef restoration. Australia’s commitment is the single largest investment for reef conservation and management in the country’s history.
Due to the underwater heat wave, caused by rampant climate change, that damaged large areas of the Great Barrier Reef, scientists recently warned that the damage to the reef may be irreversible. The scientists noted that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rate, the reef will be unrecognizable. This is devastating, because not only is the Great Barrier Reef beautiful to admire, the coral reefs are also home to endangered species including the large green turtle. The Great Barrier Reef offers about 400 different types of coral and 1,500 species of fish, all of which we stand to lose if we don’t work towards protecting the reef.
“The more we understand about the reef, the better we can protect it. Millions of dollars will go into science and to better data management and to be able to test the impacts on the reef,” Australian Environment Minister, Josh Frydenberg, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
How You Can Help
While we commend Australia for stepping up with a sizable investment to help protect the Great Barrier Reef, this is a global issue. We’ve already lost 27 percent of the world’s coral since the 1980s, and it’s expected that number will increase to 60 percent over the next 30 years. The issue involves all of us … and starts on our plate.
Industrial animal agriculture is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. This destructive industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector combined. Industrialized animal agriculture also causes water pollution by releasing toxic farm runoff from manure and fertilizer into our water supplies.
The best way to help coral reefs is to simply leave meat and dairy off of your plate and opt for plant-based foods instead. By simply leaving animal products off of your plate for a year, you can cut your carbon footprint in HALF. Reducing your plastic use and leaving fish off the menu to help our oceans are also great efforts to take.
To learn more about the environmental impact of our food choices and how we can help heal the world, check out the #EatForThePlanet book.
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