Pacific News Minute: Australia Suppresses Great Barrier Reef Reference in Climate Report
You may have seen a report over the weekend with even more bad news on coral bleaching in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. According to an underwater survey, more than a third of the coral in the northern and central sections of the reef is dead or dying. The report comes right after the Australian government ordered all references to the Great Barrier Reef to be cut out of a UN report on the impact of climate change on World Heritage sites...details From Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.
Scientists familiar with the UN report said it included no surprises. "I am amazed by the apparent overreaction." Professor Will Steffan of the Australian National University and the head of Australia's Climate Council told the BBC. "I think it was a very balanced report." Lead author Adam Markham of the Union of Concerned Scientists told the New York Times: "Pretty much everyone in the world knows there's a problem on the Great Barrier Reef." Both noted that the UN report included positive stories about government efforts to mitigate the damage, but between global warming and a powerful El Niño, the reef just experienced the worst mass bleaching ever known.
A statement issued last Friday by Australia's Department of the Environment said" Experience had shown that negative comments about the status of World Heritage listed properties impacted on tourism."
Australia's also in the middle of an election campaign where the ruling conservative coalition has downplayed the effects of climate change. The excised chapter, since published on the website of the Union of Concerned Scientists, notes that Australia is the world's fourth largest producer of coal, and that government plans to increase mining and open a coal export terminal near the reef contribute to the reef's problems. "It's future is at risk, " the report says, "and climate change is the primary long term threat."