Lead­ing the way

Australian Geographic - - From the Editor-in-chief - Fol­low me on Twit­ter at: twit­ter.com/chris­sigoldrick

WE LIVE IN THE best coun­try on the planet. I truly be­lieve this. And, in my role with AG, I get to share my love of Australia with our equally pas­sion­ate read­ers. But do we love it enough? We’re aware of our im­pact on the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment. But we’re re­luc­tant to change our be­hav­iour, even when we know we’re dam­ag­ing the very things that make our con­ti­nent home so unique. If it was easy to do so, it’d be a no-brainer. But it’s not, be­cause we need to be mo­ti­vated to change habits.

Mo­ti­va­tion needs in­spi­ra­tion, and at AG we cham­pion in­di­vid­u­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions who show us the way. Dr Sylvia Earle is one such leader, a leg­end of deep-sea ex­plo­ration and an ar­tic­u­late and im­pas­sioned de­fender of the oceans. I was priv­i­leged to meet her in Mex­ico late last year when I was in­vited to see a bio­di­ver­sity hotspot that serves as a model of ma­rine con­ser­va­tion (page 42).We were hosted there by Rolex, one of AG’s long-time ad­ver­tis­ing sup­port­ers that has fea­tured on the back cover of ev­ery edi­tion of the mag­a­zine since 2003. I’m par­tic­u­larly proud of our as­so­ci­a­tion with Rolex be­cause it’s a com­pany that has shown out­stand­ing lead­er­ship in ex­plo­ration and con­ser­va­tion, bring­ing the power of its re­spected global brand to en­vi­ron­men­tal projects around the world and part­ner­ing with peo­ple who strive to achieve the ex­tra­or­di­nary.The com­pany lends prac­ti­cal sup­port to ini­tia­tives such as Sylvia’s Mis­sion Blue al­liance as part of its com­mit­ment to safe­guard­ing the fu­ture of the planet. The world needs more re­spon­si­ble cor­po­rate or­gan­i­sa­tions such as this to stand up and be counted and I’m very happy to ac­knowl­edge that sort of sup­port when­ever we see it.

As cus­to­di­ans of pos­si­bly the great­est oceanic ecosys­tem on Earth, the Great Bar­rier Reef (GBR), Aus­tralians are also be­ing called upon to show lead­er­ship, both per­son­ally and at the high­est lev­els of de­ci­sion-mak­ing in our re­sponse to mul­ti­ple issues that threaten to over­whelm this iconic nat­u­ral as­set. Co­ral reefs are com­pelling in­di­ca­tors of ocean – and in­deed plan­e­tary – health and re­cent mass bleach­ing events on the GBR demon­strate that global cli­mate change is al­most indis­putably the big­gest driver of changes now af­fect­ing what Sylvia calls “our life-sup­port sys­tem”.

In this is­sue we ex­am­ine the ad­verse changes tak­ing place on the reef and meet some of the many peo­ple who are step­ping up to man­age the un­fold­ing cri­sis.We make sense of the huge amount of data be­ing pro­duced and also in­clude some sim­ple changes you can make right now to con­trib­ute by re­duc­ing plas­tic pol­lu­tion and mak­ing in­formed choices about the fish we eat.

They won’t dra­mat­i­cally change your life but, taken to­gether by many of us, they may start the process of im­prov­ing the planet’s fu­ture.

Head­ing out to Mex­ico’s Cabo Pulmo Na­tional Ma­rine Park with leg­endary ocean con­ser­va­tion­ist Dr Sylvia Earle (at right).

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