As claims and counterclaims swirl about the health of the Great Barrier Reef, it can be difficult to know what to believe. A good starting point is listening to Terry Hughes, the director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and listed last year by the journal Nature as one of the 10 people who matter most in science.
This figure was given preliminary endorsement by Russell Reichelt, the chief executive of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. He noted there had also been an increase in cover in the south in recent years, but added: "It is difficult to say this without sounding like I don't think the problem is serious. I certainly do.”
If anything, serious is an understatement. The loss of half of the reef's shallow water corals is a global-scale catastrophe. It may have potentially serious ramifications in the years ahead for about 70,000 people who rely on the reef for their livelihoods.
Read the Editorial in today’s Melbourne Age - “Government must address emissions reduction in any moves to save Great Barrier Reef.”