I am speaking to you today about the causes and consequences of the environmental changes at the Great Barrier Reef and how these changes are being managed. I believe we are not utilizing enough resources to protect our iconic Great Barrier Reef for our future generations. I urge you to please do something about this
As you know, The Great Barrier Reef is a complex of coral reefs, shoals, and islets. It's the longest and largest reef complex in the world. The reef is home to over 1,500 species of fish, lots of marine life, and over 200 types of birds. It would be such a shame for our grandchildren’s grandchildren to not experience this.
The coral reef defends shorelines against waves, storms, and floods, helping to prevent loss of life and property damage. We are so lucky to have this reef so we should be taking good care of it. There are so many things that threaten the existence of the reef, some of them are Climate Change, ocean acidification, poor water quality, and coral bleaching. These threats are barely being managed and we should be doing something about them. We are doing nothing to minimize these threats, we are all still littering, putting pollution into the atmosphere and not recycling, A few small changes can make a huge difference.
I would like to bring your attention to Glacier Bay national park. located in Southeast Alaska. A globally remarkable marine and terrestrial wilderness sanctuary. Glacier Bay has some of our world’s most amazing scenery and wildness, much like our Great Barrier Reef. This park was very much under threat due to global warming causing the glaciers to melt and impacting many areas including marine life and rising sea levels.
Glacier Bay is a marine park, where you can boat into inlets and through caves as well as a land park filled with Amazing Glaciers, popular for cruise ships to see the snowy mountains but most importantly a wide and divine ecosystem and beautiful landscapes. Like our Great Barrier Reef, there are many threats to Glacier Bay that are challenging its existence. They are the warming effects of climate change as well as the many effects of tourism. Thankfully National Park Services and community lobbies have taken many actions to implement changes that are making an impact on the sustainability of the park to protect it. They have achieved one of the best recycling rates. In addition to this, to minimize tourism disturbing the environment, they limit the number of cruises to only 2 cruises per day that go through Glacier Bay.
I’d like to propose that replicate what Glacier Bay is doing. They know climate change is really hurting their park so they are recycling, incorporating cleaner and renewable energy, and transitioning to electric vehicles rather than petrol-powered vehicles to get around the park.
One of the major threats putting the Great Barrier Reef in grave danger is global warming. Global warming is a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth's atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, CFCs, and other pollutants. Global warming has multiple effects on the Great Barrier reef, one of the threats is rising sea temperatures and it’s causing a greater risk of mass coral bleaching and heat stress. Coral Bleaching leaves coral susceptible to disease, stunts their growth, and can impact marine life and other species that depend on the coral communities. Severe bleaching kills the coral completely. The Great Barrier Reef has experienced two major bleaching events Recently, 42% and 54% of reefs were affected by coral bleaching. Another major threat caused by global warming is ocean acidification. Since the 1800s, the oceans have absorbed 30% of the carbon dioxide that our actions have put into the atmosphere. This Carbon Dioxide has changed the chemistry of the ocean through a process called ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is a decrease in the pH of the ocean. This causes the capacity of corals to build skeletons, decreasing their capacity to create a habitat for the Reef's marine life. A third Threat is an Increased frequency of severe weather events. Global warming will increase the frequency of Cyclones and extreme rainfall. More extreme rainfall events would send more freshwater and sediment further out from the coast and onto the Reef, Decreasing the Ph level of the water. Also, The added level of sediment would kill the coral thus decreasing the size of the reef. Making us lose our precious reef
This could all be avoided or minimized if we just look after our environment. There are various measures we could do to eliminate as much pollution as possible. Such as recycling more. Putting our cans into blue bins for them to be recycled is a step that some people have taken and I personally do this myself. More people should be doing this and more recyclable items should be included like milk cartons and cardboard. Cars release a lot of fumes into the atmosphere so we should minimize this. We should make electricity cheaper and easier to get because electric cars release a whole lot fewer fumes than cars that run on petrol. One other way to stop the amount of pollution being released into the air is by incorporating cleaner and renewable energy. Instead of using a battery and then chucking it out when it’s empty, buy rechargeable batteries and charge them again and again. They may cost a little more but they are definitely worth it for the environment the government could subsidize rechargeable batteries to encourage this.
Let me take your attention back to Glacier Bay, some of the changes have been increased tourism impacting on the environment. The number of private tour boats in the bay has been increasing. In addition to these entries, commercial fishing boats have entered the bay in numbers that are completely unregulated and this is all happening during whale season. Researchers have discovered whales avoid these fishermen and are leaving the bay. A second change is that the Glaciers are melting. Glacier Bay is covered with glacial ice. Of the 100,000 glaciers in Alaska, about 95 percent of them are getting smaller. When this ice begins to melt, the sea level rises. A rise in sea level can lead to loss of wildlife habitat through the increased chances of flood. Along with that, the acidity in the water is also increasing at an unhealthy rate because of the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Another change is pollution. There are giant cruise ships and other small boats in the bay all the time and they all leave behind pollution and fuel which gets pumped into the water, increasing the temperature of the water and decreasing the water's ph level making the water more acidic. This makes it hard for fish to live in and the increase in temperature could kill some species of fish or cause them to migrate away from Glacier Bay
Glacier bay could be a perfect place if we all just do some of these simple things. Glacier Bay National Park has taken various measures to eliminate as much pollution in the park as possible. Some of these solutions are recycling, transitioning to electric vehicles rather than petrol-powered vehicles, and incorporating cleaner and renewable energy. As for the commercial fishing boats, I believe that there should be no fishing allowed in the waters of glacier bay national park as they are scaring off whales and fish. People come to Glacier Bay to see the water and it would be a shame if they couldn’t do that. The boats that emit mass amounts of pollution into the water should be minimized, them 2 cruises that go by a day should be shortened down to one or just make the cruise ships emit less pollution into the water.
In conclusion, If we don’t act now the Great Barrier Reef, as we know it will be gone. The reef protects us, gives people jobs, and Stimulates our critical tourism industry. The reef gives people purpose and if we don’t act now that we all be lost. It’s still crazy to me that so many people won’t acknowledge that climate change is a real and serious issue. After listening to this speech and I hope you realize how amazing The Great Barrier Reef is, I truly hope humanity can find a way to reduce the emission of harmful gases into the atmosphere so we can preserve beautiful places like this and enjoy them for years to come. Hopefully, the strategies that I have come up such as recycling, switching to electric cars, and using cleaner and renewable energy will help combat the environmental issue, and more places will adopt these ideas.