Thursday 27 May 2010

18,000 gallons of oil leaked into the Great Barrier Reef

Local writer, funny man, publisher, speaker, former CEC spokesperson, and the hardest person to secure a coffee date with, Andrew Griffiths, flicked me this link about the recent massive oil spillage off the coast of Louisiana.

The stunning photographs were captured by the Boston Globe, the same team that bought us the amazing pix of Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

New oil flow estimates by scientists studying the spill in the Gulf of Mexico say the leak is far bigger than 11 million gallons that spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster, in 1989. The well that exploded on April 20th and then sank, has spilled as much as 39 million gallons, the worst in US history.

Talk about a tragedy. Yeah, no need to pilot ships through the Great Barrier Reef is there? Just imagine this happening in our waters.

1 comment:

Syd Walker said...

"Just imagine this happening in our waters."

Actually, some folk did, more than a generation ago.

An inspiring group of people, they first developed the unprecedented idea of protecting the entire Great Barrier Reef. Then they set about building the political support to make that possible. Oil exploration - and the threat of blow-outs and spills - was one of the key threats to the Reef that motivated them.

That generation of conservationists included the wonderful poet Judith Wright, whose classic book 'The Coral Battleground' tells the story of the campaign from the inside.

Here's a taste of that history, lest we forget, from the Wisenet website"

"For an insight into the front-line political confrontation of those exciting and exhausting years, there is indeed no better source than Coral Battleground, published in 1977. It is an absorbing story, unfolded with great skill, and the tension mounts as she recounts each desperate effort to save the Reef from mining and oil drilling.
As she says, it was a David and Goliath struggle in those years, with a few outstanding fighters, and often a handful of supporters, as a nucleus against the forces of industry, the apathy of governments, and the general ignorance of the public. 'It was easy to see that the shibboleths of growth and progress needed a balancing force, if the future was going to be lived in a world fit for humans.'

It is a story of heroes and, as a leader among them, Judith Wright highlights the dedicated work of others, like the ecologist Dr Len Webb, defender of the northern rainforests, who became vice-president of WPSQ and with Judith as president joined Dr Francis Ratcliffe of CSIRO and others to form the Australian Conservation Foundation in 1966.

Through Len, she met the artist John Busst of Bingil Bay, who was fired with the idea of protecting the Reef. Describing John as the man whose energy and devotion had first sparked off, and largely continued, the fight itself, she was deeply saddened by his early death in 1971.

Of herself she says, more wryly, 'I had the special advantage of being a kind of "curiosity" showpiece in the conservation movement - a poet who spent most of her time on conservation was, after all, newsworthy'. But there was no doubt of her ability to negotiate forcefully with politicians and officials...

There is surely no better way to conclude this brief tribute than with Judith Wright's own message to us. From a visionary who has been an inspiration for change, these are words to challenge us for the next century.

Judith Wright's statement for WISENET Journal"

"I have followed the continuing story of the Great Barrier Reef since I published The Coral Battleground, with admiration for the work of GBRMPA and with increasing dismay over the so-called developments that have taken place, from the "FLOATING HOTEL" propositions to the new incursions on fishing grounds by commercial interests both Australian and overseas-based - let alone the continuing threats and disasters of oil spills, estuarine pollution and all the rest. Clearly no legislation or restrictions or other attempts to "save the Reef" will work as long as tourism, population rise, rise in demands for Reef use and disregard of all controls set up by the Authority continue, as (of course) they will do.

"If we have in fact lost the "coral battle" we have also lost the world itself, since the Reef is a microcosm of the fading natural world.'"

- Judith Wright