Last night thousands of Australians, including me, took part in Earth Hour, an event that kicked off a year-round campaign against climate change. It is a worldwide movement for the planet organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and it began right here in Australia as a lights off hour in 2007. Earth Hour engages a massive mainstream community on a broad range of environmental issues. Households and businesses turn off their non-essential lights for one hour as a symbol of their commitment to the planet. The event has now been embraced by 7001 cities and 152 nations across the globe. And in 2014, Earth Hour will focus attention on one of the world’s most iconic and threatened places: Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
This topic holds particular significance to me, as the new novel I’m writing is set on the Queensland coast at the southern tip of the reef. It is about a zoologist with a passion for marine mammals. As the largest living structure on the planet, the Great Barrier Reef stretches for over two thousand, three hundred kilometres, and is so large it can be seen from space. It contains three thousand individual reefs and nine hundred islands. Incredibly rich and diverse, it extends over fourteen degrees of latitude, from shallow estuarine areas to deep oceanic waters.
Channel ten screened a special television event last night just prior to Earth Hour. It revealed the true story of what’s happening to the reef due to climate change, dredging, pollution and over-fishing. The program was grim viewing. The Great Barrier Reef has shrunk by fifty percent in the last twenty-seven years. Let’s hope 2014 can mark a rally to action, and we can convince politicians to protect this unique wonder of the natural world.
And now to the winners of the prize draw. Congratulations to Karen Stalker, Mary Preston and Jenna O. You have each won a book. I’ll be emailing you all shortly.