Most of us know the story of coal miners and their caged canaries. When my seven-year-old daughter heard it, she was sad that the canaries had to give up their lives to warn the miners to get out. She asked me if miners still use canaries today and I reassured her: ‘No, we have come a long way since those days. The truth is, sometimes I fear that we Pacific Islanders are the closest thing to those canaries.
I’ve spent a significant portion of the last 6 years forcing turtle poop through a sieve. Seriously. As a sea turtle researcher focused on understanding the what, why, and where of turtles eating harmful plastics, I’ve had to cut open hundreds of sea turtles stranded dead on beaches in Moreton Bay and the Queensland coast to see what is in their digestive system.
This year the Great Barrier Reef experienced its worst bleaching event ever and the Australian public didn’t let the Reef down. The public said loud and clear they support coral rather than coal. The Australian public know the fossil fuel era is over.
Imagine, for a second, if your home was sunk under water. Not temporarily flooded, like a leaky roof after heavy rains, or water on your carpet that eventually receded. But permanently. Imagine your whole town under water. That is what is currently proposed for the lands of the Munduruku people, in the heart of the Amazon.
This year the Great Barrier Reef experienced its worst bleaching event ever. Almost a quarter of the Reef died. According to Reef scientists only an immediate and drastic reduction in the use of fossil fuels will save the Great Barrier Reef.
As you read this, I’m suspended from a streetlight, 15m off the ground, right outside Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Sydney office. With fellow volunteer, Christina, who is on another streetlight next to me, we just safely hung a banner with a strong message that Turnbull can’t miss. Here’s what it looks like:
On the shortest night of the year, under a full moon, volunteers across Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane braved the night to change the ads in bus, train, and tram stops. The new image shows the Australian public the devastating impacts the coal industry has on the Great Barrier Reef. They painted the town white, just like the coal industry has done to the reef.
On Sunday night, a group of Greenpeace volunteers, including myself, took to the streets of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to take a stand against the coal industry and its place in causing mass coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef.