In the last few years the Great Barrier Reef has seen a serious loss of total reef and that trend is expected (link). Australian appears to be responding to the potential loss of one of the nations iconic landmarks by announcing new $60 million rescue package to help protect the Great Barrier Reef.
At face value, the move appears to be a positive one but many believe the money being set aside for the reefs protection means nothing if the country does not attempt to tackle the dwelling problem: climate change.
Opponents, including Greenpeace, argue that the money being set aside is just a distraction as Australia actually needs to cancel all plans to allow the build of Adani Carmichael’s coal mine in central Queensland. If built, the mine would be one of the largest mines in the world and the largest in Australia.
The mine is expected to produce 2.3 billion tons of coal over 60 years and 60 million tons-a-year at its peak. The coal burning for the Adani project is estimated to generate greenhouse gases equivalent to more than 4.49 billion tons of carbon dioxide, according to a report submitted to the Land Court of Queensland when it heard objections regarding the mine.
In regards to the reef, the $60 million package will be split up a number of ways, with the majority, $36.6 million, going to towards farmers along Queensland’s coast to prevent agricultural runoff and pollution.
Another $10 million will be spent on attempting to remove the the crown-of-thorns starfish that are decimating the coral, $4.9 million on increasing the number of boats and people fighting the starfish, and $6 million will go towards a coral restoration program which will attempt to make the reef more resilient as waters warm.
Australia’s government claims that the money being set aside in funding shows their commitment to protecting the reef but the science says something very different. The largest portion of the money is going towards controlling runoff of fertilizers and nutrients on farms to keep them from local rivers where they will be washed into the ocean and the reef. When the fertilizers and nutrients reach the coral, the coral is more likely to bleach and die due to added stress.
Over the last few years, a lot of effort and money has already been put into controlling run-off and studies show that the amount of runoff has slowed. The problem lies in that although run-off has been controlled, the only way to really save the reefs is to battle climate change.
For a number of years, the science has pointed at climate change as main component of the reef bleaching and dying but instead of putting any of the $60 million to building sustainable and clean energy technology or even increasing the budget for coral research, the majority of the money is being given to farmers who already received $50 million in 2016 to prevent agricultural runoff.
Allocating money to farmers to farm more environmentally is not a bad thing. What is obvious is that Australia is not willing to spend enough money on actually saving the reef and putting money into solving the bigger issue at hand.