The Largest Living Structure on Earth

The Great Barrier Reef, Far North Queensland

Just below the surface lies a small part of the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia.

I took this photo in November last year just before jumping off the tourist boat to go snorkelling. An hour later I was in shock. In the twenty or so years since I’d last dived here how could this have happened?

The Great Barrier Reef, in far North Queensland, is the largest living structure on Earth, and it’s visible from space. Most of us know of its outstanding beauty and biodiversity and many of us now know of the coral bleaching that has been so devastating over the past years.

Sir David Attenborough says, “It is one of the greatest, and most splendid natural treasures that the world possesses.”

So why are we doing nothing to protect it?

Why are we so complacent about climate change that we have ignored the science that could have prevented coral bleaching and the increase in extreme weather events?

Why does our government not only approve the biggest coal mine in Australia’s history to a foreign company, Adani, when pollution is killing our reef and fossil fuels are quickly becoming a thing of the past, but also offers Adani a billion dollars in incentives?

Do those of us who are educated and living in the developed world really believe that by ignoring climate change it will no longer be a problem?

One day our children will say, “What on earth were they thinking?”

Oh yes. And Happy Earth Day 2017 …


Magical Moon

We had flights booked from Cairns to Sydney having briefly visited North Queensland.We realised too late that we’d be in the air when the supermoon rose. Still we’d been able to spend a day in the Daintree rainforest and another out snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, both amazing places despite the massive coral bleaching of the reef that I had known about but still shocked me. Last time I was at the reef was 30 years ago and it was a  myriad of colour. How man has changed our world in such a short time. Last time that there was a supermoon the Great Barrier Reef was truly Great. What will be left when the next supermoon appears?

We would have liked to have sat on one of the endless, empty beaches and watched the moon rise, but we were unable to change our plans so reluctantly we left our tropical haven and headed for Cairns to catch the flight. We had managed to change our seats to the left of the plane, but as we approached Cairns tropical storm clouds filled the sky. Even though we took off surrounded by dense clouds, soon patches of blue replaced the white and the sky cleared as if by magic …

Smoke and Water

It was just after dawn in the heat of the West Australian summer. The air was smoky and the earth parched and yellow. Bush fires raged within twenty kilometres of us and we nervously checked our phones for fire evacuation texts and updates on the wind direction.

I sat on the veranda nursing my mug of tea and trying to focus on the abundant birdlife in the green oasis of the garden rather than scan the sky for thicker smoke. A bird bath, dry and lifeless, stood in the flower bed in front of me.

I leapt up to get water. Within minutes of me filling it, birds fluttered about, darting in and out of the surrounding bushes and taking turns to bathe and drink. For a short while, at least, I was totally distracted.



An ‘Optimistic’ Rant on Climate


Climate change has been on my mind for a long time, partly because of where I am living at the moment – West Australia, where today it’s predicted to have temperatures of close to 50 degrees centigrade, in the northern parts of the state. And partly because I’ve been actively engaged in a movement of people who believe there is a better world than the one we currently live in, and they have plans and policies to achieve it.

2015 was the hottest year on record globally, with climate change being a major factor. Yet still we have climate change sceptics and those that know it’s happening but either can’t be bothered to do anything or believe they, as an individual, can have no impact on any climate outcomes. If we were all to think that way then our world is indeed doomed. Fortunately there are enough optimists around to make a difference. I strongly and optimistically believe that each one of us can make a difference. 

To ignore warnings and scientific data, to bury our heads in the sand, to consume and remain dependent on a fossil fuel economy,  and to place greed and monetary gain over our environment is not only wrong but also short-sighted and or  ignorant.

The Paris Agreement at the end of last year allowed us some hope that the major economic powers would do the right thing – although I see little evidence of it here in Australia – and we have to be optimistic that common sense, science and the sheer magnitude of educated popular opinion and action will prevail.

Where I live, it has already reached 42C one day this summer. In the past we’ve always known that there will be respite after a series of hot days, or a sea breeze will eventually cool us down and with the Indian Ocean on our doorstep what better way to cool off after a hot summer’s day. I’ve always felt fortunate to live in such a beautiful place with a fantastic climate. I do wonder about future summers and not only the discomfort of those hot days, but also the drought, the fire danger and the unsustainable trend of building oversized houses requiring 24 hour air conditioning.

In the heat of summer we look forward to autumn which can be one of the best times of the year. Autumn is the reprieve after the heat, the beginning of cooler temperatures and, if we are really lucky, some rain. I see my garden sighs with relief and plants begin to thrive again.

And then after the cooler mild winters, spring arrives with its sense of renewal, warm, lengthening sunny days and cool nights, vibrant plants springing up after the winter rain in a land that seemed so barren and inhospitable.

To know these plants survive through fire, heat and drought gives me a huge sense of optimism.

West Australian wildflowers in spring

If you got to the bottom of this ‘optimistic’ rant and found the photos, well done!


“The record global warmth of 2015 is part of a long-term trend. All of the world’s 10 warmest years have occurred since 1998. 2015 is the 39th consecutive year with above-average global temperatures.”