March for cli­mate ac­tion

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

EILEEN Davis spends the ma­jor­ity of her time un­der­wa­ter and can see first­hand the ef­fect cli­mate change is hav­ing on the reef.

It’s for this rea­son she joined more than 100 other Whit­sun­day res­i­dents at Satur­day’s com­mu­nity march in Air­lie Beach – one of many that occurred through­out Aus­tralia and the world ahead of this week’s United Na­tions Cli­mate Con­fer­ence in Paris.

Ms Davis, a dive in­struc­tor and en­vi­ron­ment man­ager for True Blue Sail­ing, said she felt priv­i­leged to spend so much time at sea.

“I am pas­sion­ate about the un­der­wa­ter world (but) I am just one of 69,000 peo­ple em­ployed in the tourism sec­tor ser­vic­ing the Great Bar­rier Reef,” she said.

Whit­sun­day Res­i­dents Against Dump­ing spokesper­son San­dra Wil­liams said it wasn’t just the reef or tourism sec­tor that was suf­fer­ing from cli­mate change, with the com­mu­nity, broader re­gion and in­deed all of hu­man­ity af­fected as well.

“As the tem­per­a­tures rise, the ocean warms up and acid- ification gets worse,” she said.

“Most co­ral species won’t sur­vive, which means the en­tire del­i­cate ecosys­tem of the reef that of­fers homes and habi­tats to wildlife is at risk.

“We know that burn­ing coal and fos­sil fu­els causes cli­mate change. Our sum­mers are hot­ter and drier and cy­clones are more de­struc­tive.

“For our gov­ern­ment to leave for this cli­mate sum­mit with tar­gets of 26–27% isn’t good enough. Re­search has shown that only a re­duc­tion of 45% or more will have the ef­fect we need now.”

Guest speaker and cane farmer Si­mon Matt­son said cli­mate change was also pos­ing a risk to the agri­cul­ture in­dus­try, which re­lied on the re­plen­ish­ing rains of wet sea­sons ab­sent in re­cent years as Queens­land con­tin­ued to bat­tle drought.

He also said farm­ers needed more sup­port to im­ple­ment en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious prac­tices.

“Agri­cul­ture gets a bad rap as one of the big­gest con­trib­u­tors to cli­mate change, how­ever we can also be a part of the so­lu­tion,” he said.

“(But) the only way a farmer can change his ways is if he has the fi­nances to do so, which is why I would en­cour­age all of you to shop lo­cally and sup­port Aus­tralian farm­ers.”

Speak­ing on be­half of the lo­cal Ngaro peo­ple, Jas­mine Phillips said there was doubt­less more to be done to pro­tect the reef “as she pro­vides sus- ten­ance for all salt­wa­ter peo­ple along the coast of Queens­land”.

“We all hold grave con­cern for our ways of life, should her demise con­tinue,” Ms Phillips said.

But it wasn’t all a pic­ture of doom, with Ms Wil­liams point­ing to the pos­i­tives of Satur­day’s march.

“We were really pleased (that) hun­dreds came in the ex­treme heat to show their sup­port and rally for ac­tion against cli­mate change,” she said.

“I think the num­bers re­flect the pub­lic shift that has occurred. More and more peo­ple are re­al­is­ing that ac­tion is needed now to save our Great Bar­rier Reef.”

STAND­ING TO­GETHER: March par­tic­i­pants on the Air­lie fore­shore.

CLEAR MES­SAGE: Lo­cals send a mes­sage to our politi­cians about cli­mate change.

Photo Con­trib­uted

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