25 August 2016 (350) – The seas of dead coral are a crime scene.
This year, the world witnessed the most devastating mass coral bleaching event ever recorded which left behind dead reefs in at least 38 countries. Many of these reefs will never recover.
The immediate cause is clear: the ongoing rise in global ocean temperatures that comes from climate change. But that’s like saying “he was killed by a bullet.” The important question is: who fired the gun?
We know who the biggest culprits are. For decades Exxon and their fossil fuel industry peers covered up how much they knew about climate change. #ExxonKnew the truth about the damage they were doing, but instead of telling the public, they chose to hide what they knew behind a campaign of lies and denial and robbed the world of a generation’s worth of time to reverse climate change.
It’s time for us to point the finger so that the world knows:
Exxon and their fossil fuel peers killed our reefs, and every day they continue to pollute they are knowingly putting our natural world — and all of us — in further danger.
How Exxon killed the reef
More than half a century ago Exxon's own scientists understood how much and how fast the world was going to warm from greenhouse gas emissions, and how much damage that was going to do.
What Exxon didn’t do was tell the rest of us. Instead, it — and many other players in the fossil fuel industry — bankrolled the rise of the climate denial industry. As a result, we’ve wasted a quarter century in a phony argument about whether the climate was changing. Time which could have prevented the deaths of our reefs and other devastating climate impacts.
What Exxon took from us: Great Barrier Reef, Australia
“The bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef is devastating to my whole community. The Gimuy Walubarra Yidinji have cared for this reef for thousands of years. It is a vital cultural and economic resource, not just for our people, but for all people. I ask that Exxon and the other fossil fuel companies think very carefully about what they are doing. They talk about denial, they pretend to argue about the science, but what’s really going on is a whole lot of greed. We don’t have time for their excuses now. That greed is driving our planet towards disaster. ”
— Associate Professor Henrietta Marrie, CDU, Gimuy Walubarra Yidinji elder, Cairns, Australia
Palolo Deep, Apia, Samoa
“2015 was the worst year ever experienced for bleaching in Samoa. In Palolo Deep, up to 10% of the reef died as a result of bleaching, while in some parts of Savai’i, 95% of the reef bleached. Normally bleaching occurs up to one or two meters but this year there was bleaching up to twenty, twenty five meters deep – I’ve never seen that happen before. Even some of the less susceptible corals such as the boulder corals were all bleached last year.”
— Samantha Kwan, Marine Conservation Officer, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
“The Andaman Islands are frequented by tourists from across the world and their main agenda is to experience the beautiful coral reefs. As the shallow sites are bleached out, the non-swimmer and first timers who make the major chunk of tourists here, are disappointed. They go back and communicate it to their circles and this leads to reduced diving activity and thus impacting the livelihood of many dive shops who earn money from this activity.”
— Subhash Chandran, SSI Dive Instructor, Andaman Islands, India