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Threats to the GBR

I’ve just finished watching an ABC (that’s Australian Broadcasting Corporation) report on the oil spill in the Gulf, and I’m feeling pretty low. I have to admit that I’ve been mostly ignoring US politics and news while I’m in Australia, mostly because it’s been really nice to have a break from news that is depressing more often than not. But, after watching that special, I realize that I can’t really pretend that I’m not American. I’m not planning to move to Australia permanently, and that means that what happens in the US matters to me, and that I have a responsibility and an opportunity to make things better there.

And, Australians (and probably the rest of the world) have a responsibility to make things better here, and in particular, to do what they/we can to protect and improve the health of the Great Barrier Reef. I’m writing this because I’ve just spent 4 days on a liveaboard boat scuba diving at the GBR. While things are looking pretty good on parts of the reef, there is still evidence that the reef is suffering. (I found this article on Wikipedia to be particularly useful in explaining the threats.)

While we were out there on the boat, we were chatting with another American, and we talked about what would happen to Cairns and the GBR if a similar oil spill occurred there. Essentially, the entire town would close down because the whole area is based on tourism (primarily to the GBR). So many people would lose their jobs; the environmental devastation would be catastrophic; it would be terrible.

I can only imagine how the people and wildlife of the Gulf are feeling now. Thinking about it makes me feel ill. I guess I can only hope that it gets cleaned up as soon as possible and that we learn from it, because it would be awful if it happened again, whether near the GBR or anywhere else.

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