by Larry Smith
A major environmental controversy is playing out on the other side of the globe that, in many ways, mirrors our own experience here.
The big issue is the dredging of waters near Australia's Great Barrier Reef to facilitate massive coal exports to China and India. This port expansion will result in a huge increase in shipping in the area, not to mention significant additional carbon emissions that are warming the planet.
The Great Barrier Reef stretches over 1800 miles and is the only living thing on earth that is visible from space. It was discovered by Captain James Cook in 1770 when his ship, Endeavour, ran aground during a scientific voyage.
From the top of a nearby island’s hill, Cook surveyed the scene and wrote in his log: "I discover’d a Reef of Rocks extending in a line North-West and South-East, farther than I could see.”
Today we know that this huge reef complex contains the world’s largest collection of corals, as well as a great diversity of other marine life. This combination attracts over two million visitors a year who generate billions of dollars for the Australian economy. But coal mining and shipping are also big revenue earners.