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16 January, 2021

We must value our natural environment

MY first visit to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef was as an ordinary seaman on HMAS Gascoyne in 1964.

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Gascoyne was tasked to survey the reef for an inner passage to allow ships to navigate through the reef closer to the mainland. I fell in love with Cairns and was amazed by the beautiful and then pristine reef.

I visited Cairns many times as a tourist when I retired in 2002 my wife and I settled in Cairns. I have been able to take my grand-children to snorkel the reef so they could experience some of the wonders I had seen as a young sailor.

In recent years, the Reef has suffered severe mass coral bleaching. Over 2016 and 2017, the Reef suffered back-to-back bleaching, leaving half of the shallow water corals dead. Results from extensive aerial and underwater surveys showed that 29% of corals died from the 2016 event alone – with most perishing in the northern section, where waters are warmest.

I became very concerned about the reef and the effects of climate change on Cairns and the future I was passing on to my great grand-children.

 I completed a Climate Change course online with JCU and was encouraged to start blogging, which I have been doing for about ten years now.

As a result of the research I have been doing for my blog I have become even more concerned about the threat climate change is to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. I have pleaded with politicians to listen to the scientists and work to rapidly reduce our carbon emissions.

If the COVID pandemic has taught us anything, it is to listen to the scientists and act quickly on their advice.  Thousands of lives have been saved in Australia because of good governance during the COVID crisis.

If we want to protect Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef, and pass a liveable future to our children we must also listen to the scientists and act quickly on climate change. As Kevin Rudd said “Climate Change is our greatest moral challenge.”

The fossil fuel industry has for decades funded climate deniers and given donations to political parties that support them. In Europe there is a strong movement to make Ecocide a crime against humanity.

Ecocide – which literally means “killing the environment” – is an idea that seems a highly radical and, campaigners claim, a reasonable one. The theory is that no one should go unpunished for destroying the natural world. Campaigners believe the crime should come under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, which can currently prosecute just four crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.

It’s time we took the climate deniers and those that support them to court. Our future and the future of generations to come depend on what we do today.

John Pratt


John  Pratt has a long association with Cairns and a resident for the past 18 years. A passionate and vocal Climate Campaigner, John runs a successful blog

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or political beliefs of Cairns Local News’ editor or staff. 

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