9 August 22
The actually-positive climate news we needed – from Futurism: Rejoice! Two-thirds of Australia's Great Barrier Reef recorded the greatest amount of coral cover in almost 40 years, according to a new report by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).
Climate change has absolutely gutted the reef. Warming seas increased both the frequency and intensity of underwater heatwaves — the leading cause of devastating coral bleaching — draining the vibrant (and vital) underwater ecosystem of its life and colour.
And yet: Per the AIMS report, the northern and central areas of the vital undersea habitat are showing encouraging signs of recovery. It's a heartening sign that the reef, if properly protected, might yet one day make a full recovery.
"Every summer the Reef is at risk of temperature stress, bleaching and potentially mortality," AIMS CEO Paul Hardisty said in a press release. "The 2020 and 2022 bleaching events, while extensive, didn't reach the intensity of the 2016 and 2017 events and, as a result, we have seen less mortality."
Better, Not Good
As AIMS reports, hard coral cover levels — that is, the proportion of the reef blanketed by living, stony coral — reached 33 percent in the reef's central region, and 36 percent in the northern region.
Sure, it might not seem like much. But as senior AIMS researcher Mike Emslie told The Washington Post, these findings show how that the reef "is still vibrant and still resilient, and it can bounce back from disturbances if it gets the chance."
It's important to remember, however, that this environmental win comes with its caveats. The southern part of the reef, plagued by an outbreak of coral-eating starfish, sadly hasn't seen the same success. And while extremely exciting, recovery doesn't mean that the reef is healthy. Parts of this great natural wonder are definitely better — but better doesn't necessarily mean good.
That said, sum total? It's still good news. Take it in. Maybe raise a glass. And hey, if you're in a specific tax bracket, maybe, in the spirit of the reef, opt to go by car sometimes, instead.
- AUTHOR: MAGGIE HARRISON
- SOURCE: FUTURISM