OPINION

Reef in dire straits if we don't act urgently

Watching Finding Nemo with my three-year-old nephew recently, I felt a bittersweet mixture of emotions, because I don't know if the turtles, clownfish and beautiful corals he loves so much are going to be there for him to see when he grows up.

I have been working as a dive instructor at the Great Barrier Reef for the past eight years, and in 2016 and 2017, my colleagues and I watched as many beautiful corals, hundreds of years old, bleached and died due to excessive ocean temperatures.

A recent report by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority found that in the past five years, the future outlook for the Great Barrier Reef has gone from "poor" to "very poor", with climate change being the number one threat.

For us, this underlined that climate change is happening now and poses a huge threat to our planet and all the life that depends on it, including the human race that relies on natural ecosystems like the oceans in order to survive.

Not only is the Reef a priceless, irreplaceable ecosystem, but it also brings in billions of dollars to our economy through tourism, and employs more than 64,000 people just like me.

This is many more than those who work in Queensland's coal industry.

All of us have kids, relatives or young friends who we care dearly about, and we want to be there to support them in their fight, not only to have a Great Barrier Reef but to have a livable planet in their future.

The Reef is still absolutely beautiful, and every year two million tourists come to look at this amazing natural wonder, but if we want it to stay that way, we need to act urgently.

We need to respond to this crisis within the next 10 years in order to curb climate change by phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable energy.

Unfortunately during the past five years while the Reef's outlook has declined, the Australian government has continued to provide billions of dollars in funding to fossil fuel projects, such as the Adani coal mine, when it would have been much more practical to invest in renewable energy such as wind and solar.

Where is the sanity in that?

Politicians have a moral duty to act now to protect the Reef.

We are only the temporary caretakers of this irreplaceable ecosystem and our role is to pass it on as pristine as we found it, so that it can be enjoyed by the generations to come.

Tanya Murphy, dive instructor, Divers for Reef Conservation, Cairns