Tag Archives: action

Great Barrier Reef in Trouble

The Business Insider reported back in January of this year that the Great Barrier Reef has been opened to dumping of dredge waste inside protected national park areas of the Reef as well as a coal port expansion.

The Reef is already in poor health and faces many challenges. The additional stress of waste being added to the waters and then a coal port expansion on top of that risks major destruction for the animals and plants that depend on the Reef and its unique environment. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has tried to say that the waste dump and port expansion will not harm the Reef in any way:

According to GBRMPA, the dumping will not significantly affect the Reef.

“It’s important to note the seafloor of the approved disposal area consists of sand, silt and clay and does not contain coral reefs or seagrass beds,” Dr Russell Reichelt, Authority Chairman, said in a news release. (Source: http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/5847/20140201/australian-government-approves-dumping-dredged-waste-great-barrier-reef-marine.htm)

However, this is a very short-term view, and disregards the fact that the Reef is in poor condition as it is. How anyone thinks dumping additional soil and silt into an already fragile environment will not have an impact is beyond logic. The expansion of the coal port also means an increase in shipping traffic along the Reef. The Reef is supposed to be protected, as it is listed as a World Heritage Site. UNESCO has made public statements that condemn the decision and has submitted a report to the World Heritage Committee stating the Reef could potentially be downgraded to a status of “In Danger”. UNESCO has also urged the government of Australia to reconsider. However, as of the time of this post, I have not been able to find any news articles that have the government’s response or any news of a change in the decision.

As if this weren’t enough to cause alarm, there is another project planned to take place in the same rough location. Australia also plans to build a huge natural gas export terminal at Abbot Point, which is in the same region as the coal port expansion project. The dredging for the natural gas terminal would amount to about 800,000 tonnes of dredging–an enormous amount that is certain to have an impact on the Reef and the ecosystem. They plan to dump all of that soil and silt onto land, which is better than dumping it elsewhere in the Reef, but also brings the risk of potential harm to areas on land, depending on where this dredged material is being dumped.

I urge everyone who believes in protecting the environment to take action. Speak out, either in person or online. Sign petitions if you’re able. Work spells, if that is what you do. Write to influential people and demand their action to protect valuable ecosystems like the Great Barrier Reef.

To sign petitions or contribute money to legal funds organized to fight these decisions, check out the following links: Save the Reef, Reef Fighting Fund through GetUp!, Fight for the Reef legal fund, Sounds for the Reef,

Additional news sources about the decision:
Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-31/australia-permits-coal-port-dredge-dumping-near-barrier-reef.html

RT News: http://rt.com/news/156100-unesco-barrier-reef-dumping/



The Cost of Inaction

Today I read about the Winnemem Wintu and other tribes who gathered together for a practice run of a protest they will hold in the near future to protect their sacred ground and coming of age ceremony from the encroachment of heckling tourists and residents.  I was all fired up to write a scathing post and maybe a letter or two about how shameful it is that this kind of discrimination still takes place.  I was all ready and set to write about how ashamed and disgusted I am of being an American when I am reminded that our Native tribed are still abused, downtrodden, and essentially treated as second-class citizens in this country, even now in 2012.  I was just about to put pen to paper to write that it’s disgraceful that no one does anything about this issue to the point that the tribe is forced to civil disobedience just to be heard.

And then it hit me.

I, with all my fine words, all my well-meaning rage and disgrace, am really no better than the ignorant government.  Because, you see, my fine words and I are sitting in an office, or at home behind a computer.

Doing nothing.

There are plenty of people who pay lip-service to an ideal, plenty who will bemoan the state of the world without doing anything to actually fix it.  They do nothing.  And today, it hit me so hard that I paused in my work, leaned back in my cushy office chair, and actually thought about it.  With utmost surprise and shame, I realized that although my intentions were of the best, I have in fact become one of those people.

I have done nothing.

Where are the movers and shakers of today?  Where are the protesters, the leaders, the American system-breakers of this new era?  Where are the Susan B. Anthonys, the Martin Luther Kings, the Gandhis?

They’re sitting behind a computer, wrapped up in Facebook or Twitter or Angry Birds, frustrated by the world if they have any feeling or awareness left at all but still choosing to do nothing–either because they choose to or because they simply don’t know how.

I love technology.  I really do.  I’m good at it, and I’m old enough to remember a time when there was no cell phone, no personal computer, even no Internet (gasp!).  I think technology is a wonderful tool.  But we have become so focused on the next status update, the next text message, the number of Likes and friends, the next YouTube viral video, that I believe we have forgotten how to truly function with each other as human beings.  We have now been told and taught for many years that technology is the way to go, the way of the future.  And we follow blindly as sheep, herded to the next “amazing” gadget that’s really not much different from the previously amazing gadget released six months ago.  We allow technology to consume our attention and become an excuse to do nothing.

Yes, I realize the irony of using a blog and Facebook page to get this message out when I have just briefly expounded on the “evils” of technology.  But both blog and Facebook are tools.  We must learn to use them properly.

We cannot continue to do nothing.  There are too many important issues that need addressing in this world.  The rights of Native Americans in the US is only the tip of the iceberg.  What about the rights of women and children in third-world countries, protection of animals and the environgment, governmental abuses, corporate abuses, pollution, cartels, violence, and prostitution rings and slave trade?  Hiding behind computers, using the “anonymity” of the Internet, all of it must end–or be used properly–if we are to make real improvements.

I have done nothing.  Even these words will do very little because they are exactly that–just little words.  To fix the world, to make it better, more than words is needed.  Action is needed.  Solidarity and a sense of right are needed.  A reminder of humanity is needed.  We are all connected.

I will no longer be a sheep and do nothing.

Will you?

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