Monthly Archives: October 2012

Half of the Great Barrier Reef has died since 1985

In your intestines, there are trillions of autonomous bacteria that help you digest food, sometimes referred to as our ‘forgotten organ’. There are white blood cells which resemble tiny autonomous creatures, staving off infection within the

body, and yet they all ‘live’ inside you – their host. You are the sum of many different autonomous living ‘things’. Similarly, Planet Earth is an organism just like you, and it contains billions of autonomous creatures all living inside it, all of them performing some task which, when in balance, keeps the organism of Earth alive and well.

I was born into a world that was in the early stages of an illness. Its vital organs were beginning to die. In 1985, as I entered Planet Earth, the Great Barrier Reef was twice as large as it is today, an organ as vital to Earth as your liver is to you. Half of the most incredible reef in the world has died since I was born, and it’s not unique to Australia. Ocean acidification, brought about by climate change, is killing off corals world wide.

Despite it feeling as though this illness is taking years, relative to the age of the planet the sickness has taken a hold in a heartbeat. We view things through the lens of daily news, but cast your thoughts back to when you were born – the reef was twice the size it is now.

When a human dies, do we blame the bacteria in the body? Perhaps if the bacteria had been more aware of the damage their proliferation was causing, they might have slowed down their growth – for when their host dies, they die too. But bacteria cannot understand such concepts with such a lowly consciousness, so we cannot blame them.

The thought doesn’t cross our minds that we are much the same as bacteria, but we have a gift other autonomous creatures do not. We can objectively understand the consequence of our own proliferation, but we choose to ignore what we intuitively know. We must learn quickly that our desire to grow is destined to kill the very thing we rely on to survive. Like a bacteria consuming a Petri dish with no where to go once the resources are gone, we will die with our host. We expand rapidly, we consume everything in our path, and we turn complex balanced systems into baron monoculture. In our current state, we are a disease.

Enjoy the coral reefs why you can, they are beautiful, and they will be gone soon. Perhaps we can save them, but it all starts with a change in the way we think, and therefore a change in what we are. Consider your own relationship with the earth. Like the bacteria in your gut, you are a part of Earth, and it is dying.