As the UN warns that one of Unesco’s World Heritage Sites is in danger, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, due to climate change, the Australian authorities are fighting to avoid the ‘danger’ warning. World Heritage Sites are usually places that attract a huge amount of tourist attention and are given the rating built on natural beauty or historical significance. The warning that the Reef was being destroyed by climate change including the warming of the oceans first came in 2010 and in 2021 the UN had warned that the Reef was in danger. However, it avoided placing it in a position where it was removed from the list of heritage sites on insistence from the Australian government. The reality though is that a warming of oceans combined with factors such as agricultural pollution have badly damaged the stretch of coral and other growths on the ocean floor, which attract tourists to the place. According to Australian scientists, 91 per cent of the corals making up the coral reef have been damaged, and much of it has been bleached or has lost the startling colours which brought it so much attention.
The situation of the Great Barrier Reef is just further indication of how far we are destroying our planet and its natural wonders. According to Australian marine authorities, the Reef gives jobs to around 60,000 people and generates $4 billion a year for the country. This makes it a hugely significant site for the country and indeed for the world. The news that it is in so much danger and has already been damaged to a great extent is alarming. It is therefore essential that work begin to save the Reef. If this is not possible, then the Great Barrier Reef deserves to be preserved in some way and efforts made to save all that remains of some of our great natural wonders around the world. This needs to be made a priority and Unesco’s warning about the danger to the Reef taken very seriously. If it is not accepted as a warning, then the world is in danger of losing other heritage sites and places of natural beauty which attract people everywhere around the globe.