Summary …

The Great Barrier Reef is now dying faster than scientists can document.

The occurrence of two mass bleachings on the Great Barrier Reef in successive years was unprecedented.

The 2010 event largely missed the Great Barrier Reef, although the reefs off Western Australia were damaged.

The second mass bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, which affected about 60 per cent of corals in 2002, for example, was not part of a global event.

As minister for the environment in the Howard government in 2007 he wrote the foreword to a “Climate Change Action Plan” for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, identifying climate change as “The greatest long-term threat to the Great Barrier Reef”.

In the case of the Great Barrier Reef, says Hughes, “We saw how reefs reassembled themselves at the end of the last Ice Age when water depth changed and corals invaded what had been dry land. We don’t have a very good idea of how long that adaptation takes.”

“As Terry Hughes says:”The coral reef crisis won’t be averted by biologists trying to fix the reef by killing crown-of-thorns starfish, or breeding more resilient corals in aquaria, or various other Band-Aid solutions.

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The Saturday Paper