UN removes Great Barrier Reef from climate change report after Australia cites tourism issues

  • The United Nations did not include the Great Barrier Reef in UNESCO’s report on climate change
  • The Australian government said that including the natural wonder in the list could harm their country’s tourism
  • Last month, scientists warned that large portions of the Great Barrier Reef could be dead soon due to massive bleaching

The United Nations’ Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has removed the Great Barrier Reef from its most recent report regarding climate change after the Australian government intervened on the matter; saying that such a negative publicity could pose an impact on their country’ tourism.

In an article written by Chiarra Palazzo for The Telegraph on May 27, 2016, it was disclosed that the 100-page report entitled World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate did not include Australia’s natural wonder in the list of sites “that are vulnerable to increasing temperatures, melting glaciers, rising seas, intensifying weather events, worsening droughts and longer wildfire seasons.

Last month, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science released a study which says that the Great Barrier Reef is suffering its worst bleaching ever recorded in history; affecting at least 93 percent of its corals.

The group also said that if greenhouse gasses keep on rising, the world’s largest coral reef system could not last any longer.

 “These extreme temperatures will become commonplace by the 2030s, putting a great strain on the ecosystems of the Great Barrier Reef. Our research showed this year’s bleaching event is 175 times more likely today than in a world where humans weren’t emitting greenhouse gasses. We have loaded the odds against the survival of one of the world’s greatest natural wonders,” said Andrew King; lead author of the research.

King also noted that the only hope for the reef to recover is the lowering of water temperature so that algae can recolonize the area.

Prior to the release of the research, Australia’s James Cook University also said that based on the extensive aerial and underwater surveys it has conducted, only 7 percent of the reef was spared by the bleaching.

It was also noted that the areas experiencing the most severe effects of the whitening are the northern and most pristine coasts of the 2,300-kilometer body of water.

Reefs need time, around 15 years, to completely recover from a coral bleaching event of this magnitude. Recovery rates are being overwhelmed by more frequent and severe mass coral bleaching,” said Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute.