Outdoor magazine’s obituary for the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia is a must-read. It details how ocean warming and acidification led to the demise of this World Heritage Site. It also spells out how short-sighted concerns about tourism motivated Australian officials to downplay the known dangers.

Oops – edit 10/14/16 4:45pm: “I’m not dead yet!” HuffPo and other news outlets have pointed out that this obituary was in jest, but it did the job well! The reef is indeed in grave danger, but it’s not totally dead. We still have a chance to save it. All the more reason to keep reading and see what you can do about ocean acidification!

humans killed the great barrier reef

humans = reef killers

The last paragraph reads, “The Great Barrier Reef was predeceased by the South Pacific’s Coral Triangle, the Florida Reef off the Florida Keys, and most other coral reefs on earth. It is survived by the remnants of the Belize Barrier Reef and some deepwater corals.”

I’m shaking my head in disbelief. What a shame. One wonders how many people have heard of various eco-system threats, and what that kind of knowledge would do in terms of motivating more sustainable choices.

In Loving Memory of the Reef

In loving memory of the reef, let’s do the following:

  1. Share what you’ve learned. It’s easy to feel like one person’s small changes will have no effect, but if we all send out ripples of information and inspiration to others, together we can make the changes we need to make.
  2. Avoid doing laundry, running the dishwasher, or showering more than necessary during periods of heavy rain. I have a post on Combined Sewer Overflows (coming soon) that explains how too much water in the city at once leads to sewage being discharged into our rivers and oceans. This map shows how many have overflowed in the past 48 hours in Seattle – ew!
  3. Further reduce “nutrient pollution” of the oceans by buying organic. Organic agriculture avoids synthetic nitrogen fertilizers that wash off the land and into waterways, where it wreaks havoc.
  4. Buy only sustainable seafood, or go vegetarian and avoid it entirely.
  5. Reduce your carbon footprint by avoiding airplane flights. Also replace one car trip each week by carpooling, taking public transit, biking, or combining trips. As Sigourney Weaver explains, the CO2 we emit is absorbed by oceans and makes them more acidic. Find out more with this video!

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