The Great Barrier Reef is dead. Why does no one give a fuck?
It’s late and I’m staring off into space as my eyes well with tears and sadness. I want to—need to— say something. I stare at my Facebook homepage, unsure how exactly to phrase “What’s on my mind” (but thanks for asking all the same, Facebook).
See, the Great Barrier Reef is dead.
Or, at least, it’s dying. As the journal Nature recently reported, rising ocean temperatures have bleached and killed about two thirds of its coral, meaning the world’s biggest coral configuration’s days are numbered. Once this fragile ecosystem is gone, the effects will ripple around the globe: Local fish will become homeless and die out. More migratory predators will need a replacement food source, taxing other underwater gardens. Some rare aquatic plants will be lost forever.
Soon, we’ll be making do with photos of the reef, the way we keep replaying Purple Rain as if it’ll bring Prince back.
I now may never get to live out my dream of diving the Great Barrier Reef. And that breaks my heart. But not as much as the fact that this death is needless, and a great loss to the health of the world’s oceans.
This is my David Bowie. My George Michael.
And really, it should be yours, too. You may not be a scuba diver like me. You may never have been to Australia. Hell, you may not even like the water that much. All that doesn’t matter.
What DOES matter? Being a wanderer, an explorer of the world, means having places make a mark on you. At some point however, we need to think about the mark we make on these places.
What is the relationship between dream destination and the traveller dreaming of it?
If you’ve gone somewhere and it changed your life, you owe it to that place to care. And if a special pinpoint on a map has always called your name, then the time that it’s in trouble must surely be the time to heed and respond.
As travellers, we need to realize that our interactions with where we go isn’t just about amazing selfies or tan lines earned.
It’s about places becoming a part of us—and, in turn, us becoming a part of that place. It means we’re as close to “global citizens” as one can be to a buzz phrase.
It means we can’t be idle. It means we have to care—we owe it to our passport stamps and well-worn suitcases, to our dreams of being worldly and to the places that will make us that way.
So, now is the time to stop throwing garbage off the boat or on the beach. It’s time to sort your goddamned recyclables and stop buying disposable plastic.
Volunteer. Donate. Make a difference.
Don’t let the reef’s death be in vain.
[Images in this post via the great barrier reef tumblr ]