Australia criticised for neglecting Great Barrier Reef

Sydney, April 18 (IANS) The Australian government, under criticism from environmental scientists for neglecting the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef, faced fresh appeals to rescue the world heritage site.

“For heaven’s sake, take it seriously — listen to scientists for a change,” said marine and coral scientist Charlie Veron.

“They never listen about climate change in general and now they’re not listening about the Great Barrier Reef,” Efe news quoted Veron, author of “A Reef in Time: The Great Barrier Reef from Beginning to End”, as saying.

A study by Australia’s James Cook University had reported last March that coral bleaching — the loss of colour indicating coral death — affects 95 percent of the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef.

The reefs are bleached periodically and then recover themselves, but scientists fear that the current process may be irreversible.

“I’m now just furious that the government is still sitting back, not doing enough,” said Justin Marshall from the University of Queensland.

Famed British broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough warned in a documentary in April that the Great Barrier Reef could disappear in a few decades because of climate change.

“The twin perils brought by climate change, an increase in the temperature of the ocean and in its acidity threaten its very existence. Do we really care so little about the Earth on which we live that we don’t wish to protect one of its greatest wonders from the consequences of our behaviour?” said the 89-year-old scientist.

The health of the Great Barrier Reef, home to 400 types of coral, at least 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of molluscs, began deteriorating in the 1990s due to the warming of the sea water and increased acidity owing to an increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

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