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Great Barrier Reef Facing Unprecedented Challenges Amid Serious Ecological Disturbances

In light of the report, the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia called for urgent climate change action

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great barrier reef
"The Great Barrier Reef is still beautiful and it is resilient, but it is facing unprecedented challenges," AIMS Chief Executive Officer Paul Hardisty said. Wikimedia Commons

The health of Australias Great Barrier Reef is facing unprecedented challenges amid serious ecological disturbances, a report released on Thursday said. Crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks — which have decimated breeding populations of corals over large areas — coral bleaching and cyclones were among the “major disturbances” in the past five years that have caused a general decline in coral cover in the world’s largest living organism, Efe news quoted the report by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) as saying.

“The Great Barrier Reef is still beautiful and it is resilient, but it is facing unprecedented challenges,” AIMS Chief Executive Officer Paul Hardisty said. The report added that chronic stressors such as high turbidity, higher ocean temperatures and changing ocean chemistry affect recovery rates and more frequent disturbances shorten periods of recovery time.

“We know reefs can recover given time and the right conditions, but there has been little relief from disturbances in recent years to allow significant recovery to occur,” AIMS Long Term Monitoring Program leader and ecologist Mike Emslie said.

great barrier reef
In light of the report, the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia called for urgent climate change action. Wikimedia Commons

The decline was measured in the central and southern areas of the reef, while the northern region has stabilized. In light of the report, the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia called for urgent climate change action. “Australia must urgently reduce its dependency on fossil fuels and rapidly speed up the transition to a renewable economy,” WWF-Australia Head of Oceans Richard Leck said.

ALSO READ: Global Warming Threatens UN Goals of Tackling Inequality, Conflicts

Last month, a Change.org campaign was launched to push for citizenship for the Great Barrier Reef. The petition demands the reef be given rights akin to that of humans, including the right to health, freedom from torture or inhuman treatment or punishment, the right to maintain own means of subsistence and the right to life.

The Great Barrier Reef, home to 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 varieties of molluscs, began to deteriorate in the 1990s due to the double impact of water warming and increased acidity due to more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. (IANS)

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Global Warming Threatens UN Goals of Tackling Inequality, Conflicts

Greenhouse gases have continued to climb, and "climate change is occurring much faster than anticipated," the report said

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global warming
Greenhouse gases have continued to climb, and "climate change is occurring much faster than anticipated," the report said. Pixabay

Relentless global warming threatens the potential success of a sweeping set of goals established by the United Nations to tackle inequality, conflict and other ills, officials said on Tuesday. Climate change imperils food supplies, water and places where people live, endangering the U.N. plan to address these world problems by 2030, according to a report by U.N. officials.

Member nations of the U.N. unanimously adopted 17 global development goals in 2015, setting out a wide-ranging “to-do” list tackling such vexing issues as conflict, hunger, land degradation, gender inequality and climate change.

The latest report, which called climate change “the greatest challenge to sustainable development,” came as diplomatic, business and other officials gathered for a high-level U.N. forum to take stock of the goals’ progress.

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Global warming and changing ocean chemistry affect marine nutrients and marine life. VOA

“The most urgent area for action is climate change,” said Liu Zhenmin, U.N. Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, in the report.

“The compounded effects will be catastrophic and irreversible,” he said, listing increased extreme weather events, more severe natural disasters and land degradation. “These effects, which will render many parts of the globe uninhabitable, will affect the poor the most.”

Progress has been made on lowering child mortality, boosting immunization rates and global access to electricity, the report said. Yet extreme poverty, hunger and inequality remain hugely problematic, and more than half of school-age children showed “shockingly low proficiency rates” in reading and math, it said. Two-thirds of those children were in school.

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The cost of implementing the global goals has been estimated at $3 trillion a year. Pixabay

Human trafficking rates nearly doubled from an average 150 detected victims per country in 2010 to 254 in 2016. But it was unclear how much of the increase reflected improved reporting systems versus an increase in trafficking, said Francesca Perucci of the U.N.’s statistics division, who worked on the report. “It’s hard to exactly distinguish the two,” she said at a launch of the report.

ALSO READ: UN: World Showing Lack of Ambition in Reducing Inequality, Countering Climate Change

But climate change remained paramount. Greenhouse gases have continued to climb, and “climate change is occurring much faster than anticipated,” the report said. At this week’s goals summit, 47 countries were expected to present voluntary progress reviews. Almost 100 other countries and four cities including New York have done so.

Earlier U.N. reports said the goals were threatened by the persistence of violence, conflict and lack of private investment. Outside assessments have also cited nationalism, protectionism and insufficient funding. The cost of implementing the global goals has been estimated at $3 trillion a year. (VOA)