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Add your voice to the call for action to save the Great Barrier Reef

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It is time to demand action from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull  and Minister for Environment Josh Frydenberg to save the Great Barrier Reef!

Our planet is in crisis.

We know the cost of industrialised society and are reminded of this by the pollution we are surrounded by, and live in.

Australia is a harsh land, a land of extremes, and we pay the price for our lifestyle as these extremes become exacerbated in bushfire, flood. In 2016 this cost has been brought home by the widespread bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef.

It is time to ask why we continue to subsidise the fossil fuel industry while defunding renewable energy. Why do our policy makers continue to make policy that clings to the past at the cost of the future?

Share this petition (http://goo.gl/aXcKTL) and add your voice to those calling for a plan to address climate change and save the Great Barrier Reef!

_________________________________________________________________

To the Minister for the Environment Josh Frydenberg, and to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull,

Know that while I address this letter to you, it is also intended for the Australian people.

On the 16th of July 2016 Australia voted, with 28.07% of the population voting Liberal (42.04% for the Coalition[1]). 23.2% of Australian voters, nearly as many as voted Liberal, gave first preference to neither Labor nor Liberal. This is not a win for the Liberal Party, and you do not have a mandate.

After counting preferences, the Liberal Party now represents all of Australia. Rather than a mandate, the party has a responsibility and accountability to the Australian land, its inhabitants, its people and its future. Despite significant work, successive Australian Governments have failed in this responsibility in many ways. One of the most significant is the failure to address the continuing threat of environmental harm and climate change.

In 2016 there has been a widespread coral bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef[2]. The full impact of this event will not be known for some time, but already there is evidence of widespread mortality. This reef is not only a sparkling jewel in Australia’s crown, not only a tourism destination, but an ecosystem. A breeding ground and a feeding ground. When it dies, it will not be the loss of a tourist attraction or jewel, but local environmental collapse[3].

On the 25th of June 2016 UNESCO released the ‘World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate’ report[4]. Rather than show concern, the Australian Government requested references to the Great Barrier Reef be removed citing negative effects on tourism[5].

The Liberal government in particular has shown its concern for money[6] over life with attempts to delist World Heritage areas[7], the failure to address the Indigenous Health Gap[8], the continued inhumane treatment of refugees[9], abuse of children in detention[10] and the continued support for coal mining[11] despite the World Banks rejection of coal[12].

Whenever climate change is discussed, economic concerns[13] and doubts[14] are raised. It is true, transitioning from a paradigm driven by consumption, to a sustainable moderate paradigm, will be difficult. The alternative to change is increasing levels of pollution, and increase in number and severity of bushfires[15], floods[16] and extreme weather events[17]; continued mass extinctions[18], and eventual ecological collapse.

You, Prime Minister Turnbull, and you, Minister Frydenberg, are failing Australia every day you fail to address this, and Australians are silent accomplice to environmental destruction and to mass extinction every day we allow this to continue.

In 2015 Australia signed the Paris Agreement[19], setting a goal of limiting climate change to an average increase below 2 degrees Celsius. This goal, and Australia’s failure to take appropriate action to meet it[20], means that coral bleaching events will continue and increase.

The recent decision to reduce the cuts to CSIRO funding[21], and returned focus on climate science is promising. It remains to be seen whether this is a return to the prior trajectory which has resulted in so little societal change, or if it is in fact the beginning of serious action on this key issue.

This is an opportunity to demonstrate to the world, that the Australian Liberal Government does not lay blame to predecessors but rather seeks out real time solutions and delivers measured outcomes.
Unfortunately the recent trend to defund regulators such as the Climate Commission[22] and detractors such as the ABC[23], coupled with the continued focus on profit[24] leads me to believe that the Great Barrier Reef will likely be dead within our lifetimes.

I feel that the aforementioned failures are due in part to the cloistering of our politicians, and so I challenge you Minister Frydenberg and Prime Minister Turnbull, not to fly over this calamity in a helicopter as Minister Hunt did, but to swim the waters of Lizard Island and some of the worst affected areas. Choose some of the loudest voices calling for action on climate change and coral bleaching, and allow yourself to be shown the impact of your decisions.

Once you have done so, address the nation, provide evidence that the Great Barrier Reef is not under existential threat, provide a plan to save The Reef, or tell us it is time to cut our losses and accept that this cultural icon will not exist to be visited by our grandchildren.

Then explain how that will affect tourism.

Yours Sincerely,

Matthew Bingley



[1] ‘ABC Federal Election Results 2016’ – Australian Broadcasting Corporation (31 July 2016)
http://www.abc.net.au/news/federal-election-2016/results/
[2] ‘Coral bleaching events’ - Australian Institute of Marine Science (June 2016)
http://www.aims.gov.au/docs/research/climate-change/coral-bleaching/bleaching-events.html
[3] ‘Sections of Great Barrier Reef suffering from 'complete ecosystem collapse' - Michael Slezak (21 July 2016)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/21/sections-of-great-barrier-reef-suffering-from-complete-ecosystem-collapse
[4] ‘World Heritage and Tourism report shows sites at risk from climate change’ - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (26 May 2016)
http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/1500
[5] ‘Australia removed from UN world heritage climate report’ - British Broadcasting Corporation (27 May 2016)
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-36376226
[6] ‘Submission In Response To The Senate Inquiry On The Abbot Government’s Performance On The Environment’ – Sherwin et al. (1 September 2014)
http://www.aph.gov.au/DocumentStore.ashx?id=4916a67f-6e74-43c1-92d7-a5364083db5e&subId=299617
[7] ‘UNESCO rejects Australia's bid to shrink Tasmanian World Heritage Sit’ – Leigh Dayton (25 Jun 2014)
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2014/06/unesco-rejects-australias-bid-shrink-tasmanian-world-heritage-site
[8] ‘The Link Between Primary Health Care and Health Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians’ -  Department of Health (June 2008)
http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/health-oatsih-pubs-linkphc~health-oatsih-pubs-linkphc-changes~changes1
[9] ‘UN finds Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers violates the Convention Against Torture’ – Human Rights Law Centre (9 March 2015)
http://hrlc.org.au/un-finds-australias-treatment-of-asylum-seekers-violates-the-convention-against-torture/
[10] ‘The truly shocking thing about the NT's juvenile detention abuse is how many times the alarm was raised and ignored’ – Simon Thomsen (26 July 2016)
http://www.businessinsider.com.au/the-truly-shocking-thing-about-the-nts-juvenile-detention-abuse-is-how-many-times-the-alarm-was-raised-and-ignored-2016-7
[11] ‘Your tax dollars helping the mining industry ....’ – The Australia Institute
http://www.tai.org.au/node/476
[12] ‘World Bank Group Sets Direction for Energy Sector Investments’ – Stephen Bachenheimer (16 July 2013)
http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2013/07/16/world-bank-group-direction-for-energy-sector
[13] ‘Climate Change Could Wreck the Global Economy’ - Justin Worland (22 Oct 2015)
http://time.com/4082328/climate-change-economic-impact/
[14] ‘Exxon Is Fighting for Its Right to Deny Climate Change’ - Natalie Schreyer (01 July 2016)
http://www.wired.com/2016/07/exxon-fighting-right-deny-climate-change/
[15] ‘The Burning Issue: Climate Change and the Australian Bushfire Threat’ – Lesley Hughes (19 Nov 2015)
https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/burningissuereport2015
[16] ‘Eastern Australian flood events: a 'significant' rise in frequency, says study’ – Peter Hannam (17 June 2016)
http://www.smh.com.au/environment/weather/eastern-australian-flood-events-a-significant-rise-in-frequency-says-study-20160617-gplbwi.html
[17] ‘Climate change impacts in Australia’ – Department of the Environment and Energy
https://www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/climate-science/impacts
[18] ‘Australian species vulnerable to climate change’ - Catherine Cooper and Fran Dorey (26 Oct 2015)
http://australianmuseum.net.au/australian-species-vulnerable-to-climate-change
[19] ‘The Paris climate agreement and implications for Australia’ – The Climate Institute (Dec 2015)
http://www.climateinstitute.org.au/verve/_resources/Post-Paris-Brief-16122015.pdf
[20] ‘The Paris Agreement: Is Australia Going Far Enough?’ – Emma Brancatisano (23 Apr 2016)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/04/22/the-paris-agreement-is-australia-going-far-enough/
[21] ‘Environment Minister Greg Hunt orders CSIRO to refocus on ‘critical’ climate science in new strategy’ - Nick Whigham (4 Aug 2016)
http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/environment-minister-greg-hunt-orders-csiro-to-refocus-on-critical-climate-science-in-new-strategy/news-story/c051ca49d84bfb3995689a6c9f8a26c2
[22] ‘Australia urged to explain funding for climate contrarian’ – Matt Siegel (23 Apr 2015)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-3051731/Australia-urged-explain-funding-climate-contrarian.html
[23]  ‘Budget cuts to hit ABC ‘Enhanced Newsgathering’ services’ - Darren Davidson (2 May 2016)
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/broadcast/budget-cuts-to-hit-abc-enhanced-newsgathering-services/news-story/8dee15d2fbb82c306186a6c49e32da3b
[24] ‘CSIRO cuts were about taking focus off 'public-good research', emails show’ – Michael Slezak (6 Apr 2016)
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/apr/06/csiro-climate-cuts-about-cutting-public-good-research-documents-show

 



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