Environmental News Archive

An almost weekly update of environmental news, particularly marine updates, with occasional splatters of transportation, indigenous, ideas of sustainability and sustainable development from around the world.


Great Barrier Reef Could Be Dead In 20 Years

31 Jan 2007 (TODAY)

SYDNEY - Australia's famed Great Barrier Reef, treasured as the world's
largest living organism, could be dead within two decades by global
warming, scientists warned in a report yesterday.

The World Heritage site, stretching over more than 345,000sq km off
Australia's east coast, will become "functionally extinct", the scientists
were quoted as saying in The Age newspaper.

The assessment is contained in a leaked draft of a major international
report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) to be released later this year, the newspaper said.

A chapter on Australia in the report on the global impact of climate
change on the world warns that coral bleaching in the reef is likely to
become an annual occurrence by as early as 2030 due to warmer, more acidic
seas. Bleaching occurs when the plant-like organisms that make up coral
die and leave behind the white limestone skeleton of the reef.

Some 500 experts are meeting in Paris this week, ahead of the release on
Friday of the IPCC's first report - since 2001 - on the state of
scientific knowledge on global warming.

The report will be followed in April by volumes focusing on the impact of
climate change and the social-economic costs of reducing the emission of
greenhouse gases, which have been blamed for global warming.

Earlier, warnings that climate change was damaging the reef - a major
tourist attraction - prompted the Australian government to announce late
last year that it was considering using vast sunshades to protect the

Australia's Tourism Minister Fran Bailey said the government was looking
at funding the use of shade cloths to protect vulnerable parts of the
giant reef off the coast of Queensland state.

The cloth, which is being developed by researchers in Queensland, would be
held in place by floating pontoons. - AFP