Leading national specialists on the Great Barrier Reef have urged for an immediate rethink of the method in which the world’s most extensive reef system is handled. They claim that the ways that are now being used are too rigid in the face of “unremitting global warming.”
Tanya Plibersek, the minister of the environment, received a letter from an established independent expert group, chaired by the former chief scientist Ian Chubb. In the letter, the panel stated that “business as usual” is no longer a viable option.
In a letter that was published today, Chubb stated that the reef was “in a transition driven by greenhouse gases emitted to levels unprecedented in 800,000 years.” He also warned that the effects will become much more severe in the future decades as long as greenhouse gas emissions were allowed to continue.
Another assessment that was published on Thursday stated that the climate crisis was likely to damage the reef in ways that could become “irreversible” by the middle of this century. This report came from the Australian Academy of Sciences.
In addition to recommendations made by expert panel, this report also suggested doing an in-depth analysis of how reefs are managed.
This week, UN science advisers recommended that the reef not be included on a list of world heritage sites “in danger” this year. However, they requested a progress report in February of the following year, and the 21-country World Heritage committee will make a decision on whether or not to include the reef in the danger list again in the middle of 2024.
It is generally agreed upon that climate change poses the most significant risk to the reef. The warming of the ocean, which is mostly caused by combustion of fossil fuels, has resulted in six instances of widespread coral bleaching since 1998, four of which have occurred within the last seven years.
Chubb concluded in his report that “the existing set of policies for GBR management has served its purpose, yielding generally positive outcomes despite some weaknesses.”
“However, the panel has arrived at the conclusion that the existing policy framework, as well as the funding to support new knowledge and, ultimately, its translation, is not flexible enough to deal with the rapidity of global warming, which shows no signs of slowing.”
The panel came together and came up with some recommendations, one of which was to build more regionalized responses. These responses would include decisions on which reefs and which species were the most vital to focus on.
“Decision-making for the conservation and sustainable use of the Great Barrier Reef will need to be more selective, and questions will need to be asked, such as: which region or regions should be the focus of attention – which reefs, which corals, which species, and which ecosystems?” The panel did the writing.
“Management plans must be adaptable in order to provide decision-makers with the ability to swiftly respond to changes in the GBR’s ecological, social, economic, and cultural values as a result of global warming.” In exchange, actions and investments ought to be appraised, and any required adjustments should be made.
In the letter, it was said that there was a “vastly underutilized opportunity” to share ideas and information with indigenous populations, “whose understanding of the reef extends back prior to its contemporary form emerging after the most recent ice age.” This presented a “broadly underutilized opportunity” to do so.
Plibersek had made a request for advice, and Chubb’s panel was replying to it. Plibersek was pleased to receive the advise.
She stated that the government was “determined to better protect and restore our precious reef so that it can be enjoyed by our kids and grandkids” and that there was “more to do.” She also stated that the government was “determined to better protect and restore our precious reef.”
The Great Barrier Reef is supported by at least 58 different programs, which include initiatives to improve water quality, make use of the expertise of First Nations people, eradicate exotic species, and many others.
In its reply to a monitoring team led by Unesco that visited the reef, the government guaranteed that it would execute climate targets in line with the goal of maintaining a global temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius. According to the findings of several experts, the commitment made by the government thus far does not meet that objective.