Will my kids see the reef?

Last year the newlines were dominated by the mass coal bleaching event which left a large percentage of the Great Barrier Reef’s coral white and stripped of life. Aquatic ghosts and a figural canary.

See the reef before it disappears forever

At the time, scientists were calling on the government and general public to take heed. While the scientist were in tears, tourism operators were calling for calm and perspective, understandably worried about their livelihood. The environmental scientist warned that these events could become more and more common, by 2030 they could occur every second year. The reef needs at least five years to recover, but 15 – 20 years is a more accepted time frame. Bleaching events every second year could prove fatal to the reef.

This year, after the first aerial survey for 2017, it appears likely another mass bleaching event has occurred. This strikes icicles into my heart. It is entirely possible that my kids will never see the reef. It seems almost certain that my grandchildren won’t. The worried tourist operators could well run campaigns “See the reef while you still can.

Climate change is occurring. Rapidly. The angry summer is proof of that. And yet the US has placed a climate change denier as the leader of the EPA (have a look at the change of tone of the US EPA Facebook site for some truly depressing reading). Our politicians think it’s a bit of a laugh to bring coal into parliament. It’s complete and utter madness when the people in charge bury their heads in the sand and the rest of the world has to cope with their incompetence. I can completely understand why scientists feel so frustrated.

I wonder if every generation feels the same sense of hopelessness over their children’s futures. My German great grandparents had the terrifying experience of bring up children in the midst of war. My grandparents watched the doomsday clock edge closer to midnight during the Cuban Missile Crisis and worried they would have to survive a nuclear winter (after surviving a childhood shaped by war). My own parents brought my sister and I up as the gulf war threatened every day on television.

When I visited my grandparents as a child, my Opa would let us know that a global crisis was coming (any day now) and none of us soft-bellied folk likely to survive. My Opa was such a pessimist that he would describe the water glass as poisoned rather than half empty. Yet despite the family oracle insisting life was terrible and about to get worse, my own insular life has been happy and protected.

The threats to normal life are on the fringes.  Reports of war continue, their impact dulled by their constancy.  So much information comes at us that’s it hard to know what to be afraid of. But changing climate, that seems a very real thing to me. The death of natural landmarks can’t be met with complacency – surely? Will technology somehow save our environment and humanity? Will the end of days once again be swerved? Is my worry unnecessary?

There is a documented tendency to believe that the world is getting worse, when it isn’t. So maybe I’m worried for nought. But, to be honest, that doesn’t sit right.

A trip to Cairns may be on radar sooner rather than later, so that my children see the beauty that they will have to work so hard to protect. Treading softly on the planet is something we talk about often. We try to do the right things but I feel like they are tiny, insignificant drops in a very large ocean. I worry that my children won’t just be guardians of the environment, they will have to be soldiers for it. I think this will be my children’s war – and I fear the odds are stacked against them.

Do you worry about this for your kids?
What do you think is the answer?


Linking up with Kylie Purtell – Capturing Life and IBOT

18 thoughts on “Will my kids see the reef?

  1. Renee Wilson says:

    Such an interesting post, Robyna. Yes, I worry about this also. It is hard to believe that this is happening to our reef … and what can we do about it. I’ve not even seen the reef myself yet. I think we will definitely be making our way there sooner rather than later.
    Renee Wilson recently posted…Dear Homework … You suckMy Profile

  2. Vanessa says:

    Fascinating to think of the war vs natural disaster/ecosystem failing as a framing worry. Both are massive fears but also so different.

    • Robyna says:

      Unfortunately I think we have a lot less control over the natural disaster and failing eco-system. It will be harder to avoid the global consequences.

  3. Bec Senyard says:

    Yes it’s definitely something I’ve thought about when I’ve visited the reef myself before we had children. I snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef when I was 17 for schoolies. I took Jacob there 5 years later and the same reef looked different to what I remembered when I went there those years ago. We should be protecting this beautiful environment so future generations can enjoy it. I definitely want to take my girls up north when we can.
    Bec Senyard recently posted…Protecting Your Home From Floods and the Importance of Flood InsuranceMy Profile

    • Robyna says:

      Exactly – I just worry that another bleaching event will be seen as last year’s news and the awareness component will fade.

    • Robyna says:

      Completely frightening. Moreso that climate change in a lot of areas is happening quicker than scientist originally predicted and the politicians are still calling them extremists and liars. It’s so frustrating.

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