Concerns over the Great Barrier Reef's health are hightened by the proposed opening of Australia's largest coal mine : Adani's Carmichael Coal Mine. The Abbot Point port that will be used to ship coal from the mine is reported to be located just 19 kilometres from the nearest corals. This is located in the region of the Great Barrier Reef that has been hardest hit by coral extinction.
The Largest Living Organism On The Planet?
The Great Barrier Reef has been described as the largest living organism on the planet and reportedly can be seen from outer space. In truth it is a collection of billions of smaller organisms. The region is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia and includes 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands.
As an aside the largest living organism in the world is currently believed to be a honey fungus measuring 3.8 km across in Oregon's Blue Mountains.
Posted below is a tweet from Professor Terry Hughes (@ProfTerryHughes) showing the state of the reef with the caption:
Is The Great Barrier Reef Dead At 25 Million Years Old?
Leading environmentalist commentator Rowan Jacobsen believes this unique structure is dead, and wrote:
“The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016 after a long illness. It was 25 million years old.”
Fears over the health of the Great Barrier Reef have been around for years. In 2009, Charles Vernon, the chief scientist of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, held a talk called “Is the Great Barrier Reef on Death Row?”
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has started the second phase of its survey to assess the impact of 2016’s bleaching. So far their research indicates that: “22 percent of the coral on the reef died due to the worst mass bleaching event on record.”
Australia's Largest Coal Mine
The Carmichael Coal Mine will be owned by Indian multinational conglomerate Adani. With an projected cost for the project of AUD $21 Billion, this is believed to be the largest single investment by an Indian corporation in Australia. There has been significant opposition within Australia over the project with concerns being raised over potential environmental and native rights impacts.
The major points of contention include:
- Air Pollution: Coal is Australia's biggest single cause of air pollution and contributes to 3,000 deaths every year
- Climate Change Destroying The Reef: Coal pollution is the biggest driver of climate change compounding the damage to an already sick reef
- Water Issues: The mine will draw huge amounts of water for free potentially damaging the water basin and groundwater
- Destroying Indigenous Culture: The mine will adversely impact local Indigenous populations who are fighting against the project
- Suspect Business Practices: The operator of the mine Adani does not have a good corporate behaviour record and in India is under investigation for corruption, money laundering, fraud and tax evasion
Dangers With The Abbot Point Port
The mine is to be accompanied by one of the world's largest coal ports at Abbot Point. This controversial project involves the dredging 1.1 million cubic metres of soil near the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Combined with the increased traffic of coal laden ships the Abbot Point project could have an adverse impact on an already sick ecosystem.
In April of this year Cyclone Debbie struck Australia's coast and photos showed coal-laden water spilling into wetlands from Adani’s Abbot Point terminal. This lends credence to concerns over potential future environmental disasters during Australia's frequent cyclones.
What is happening now?
Many in Australia have accused the Government of inappropriately assisting in Adani's project. This includes giving Adani free water when much of Australia is being asked to cut water consumption and potential tax breaks. The Queensland State Government has offered Adani a 'royalties holiday' that could cost the state AUD $320 million!
It seems that the project may go ahead regardless of the outcry from the public. If this happens then the already ailing Great Barrier Reef, which is truly one of the world's natural wonders, will have to suffer the environmental impacts. Considering that many scientists believe that coral reefs remove more carbon dioxide from the air than they add - the death of the Great Barrier Reef may impact us all!
For further reading on this subject you can follow the campaign to stop this mining project at Stop Adani
All Uncredited Images Courtesy Of Pixabay