I was taught to respect my elders. The world’s largest coral reef system, or, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), is about 8,000 old. It is sacred, yet it has been horribly abused. Consequently, the GBR is terminally ill.
For twenty years, the Australian federal and state governments have hurried its demise. That means more than 5,500 glorious species, including orange-spotted filefish, scalloped hammerhead sharks, humpback whales, green sea turtles and so many others, have been evicted.
As if the long lasting marine heatwaves of 2016, 2017 and 2020 were not deadly enough, the decades of man-made poisons are the bitter end.
Globally, the chemical onslaught is gobsmacking. Every six seconds a new chemical is registered; 15,000 new man-made horrendous chemicals daily. Right now in Australia, there are at least 150,000 known chemicals in use.
Within the Coral Sea, along the northeast coast of Australia, the breathtaking GBR spans more than 1,600 miles. Those reefs rely upon the shoreline sea grass meadows, salt marshes and mangroves (Earth’s ‘kidneys’) to intercept and retain any toxic land runoff. Sea grasses provide food and habitat for many of our marine brethren and sistren. Those lush grass roots also stabilize the sea bottom. They store mega amounts of carbon that are safeguarded by sharks.
Accelerated land clearing, intensive agriculture, increased extreme rain events, cyclones, marine heatwaves, coal super ports, dumping millions of tons of dredge spoils and mining for sand have weakened, poisoned and destroyed the ‘kidneys’.
Terrifyingly, the Coral seafloor is brimming with 50 years of man-made poisons. Since 2001, we have known about this wicked chemical plight. The giant dugongs (sea cows) that evolved to shepherd the Coral Sea meadows are mostly gone. No food. No dugongs.
Now it is the few remaining endangered green turtles that are chockablock with flame retardants, dioxins, furans, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (petroleum), plastics (petroleum), sunscreens, sewage, industrial adhesives, sealants and lubricants, household cleaners, painkillers, heart and kidney stone medicines, herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers, anti-fouling paints, cocaine, methamphetamine (crystal meth), cobalt, antimony, manganese and 4,000 other known man-made chemicals. Staggeringly, GBR green turtle blood serum contains the backbone of another estimated 100,000 man-made chemicals, many of which are unknown to the toxicology labs.
Oh, by the way at the top of the world, the Canadian Arctic polar bears are suffering from the same godawful man-made carcinogenic pollution.
To witness these exquisite marine mariners full of cancer, herpes, malformed lungs along with missing eyes and front flippers is absolutely gut-wrenching. Our oceanic Aussie brothers and sisters are facing local extinction.
What happens in Australia, doesn’t stay in Australia!
This much we do know with certainty. Each of us has a hand in either saving what is left of the wild planet by consuming much less, or hastening the destruction, of our only home, by consuming more. Which choice do you intend upon supporting?
Join author Reese Halter and Gen Z-influencers Johnny Keach, Slater Jewell-Kemker and Dr letef ‘DJ CAVEM’ Vita from the Southern Rockies as they examine the effects of global heating, the Age of Extinction, and how increasing environmental degradation in the coming decade(s) is the key determinant of new diseases & future pandemics. Roll up your sleeves and lend a helping hand as they delve into many solutions to save our planet in peril. It is a narrative loaded with passion and sprinkled with optimism.
Dr Reese Halter is an award-winning broadcaster, distinguished conservation biologist and author.
Dr Reese Halter’s latest book is now available!