Chinese coal carrier runs around on the GBR

3 thoughts on “Chinese coal carrier runs around on the GBR”

  1. This looks bad but don’t lose sight of the fact that everything on this ship was destined to be burned and dumped into the atmosphere for all to breathe.
    139 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide (assuming volumes in the article and ‘Bituminous’ and ‘Residual Fuel’ CO2 values on http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/coefficients.html).
    And don’t make a big deal of this either. The Niagra Falls hydro plant saves that much CO2 every 10 minutes. The Three Gorges Dam saves that much CO2 every 25 seconds. M

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  2. From http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2010/04/06//2865474.htm:

    ‘David Wachenfeld, chief scientist at the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority says while he fears for the fate of the oil in the ships tanks, he is far more concerned about the impact of climate change on the reef than a lost Chinese coal ship.

    “There is no doubt that climate change is the greatest long term threat to the reef.”

    The Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2009 examined the likely threats to the long-term viability of the reef, which brings in around $6 billion in tourism dollars each year. Falling into both the categories of “almost certain” to occur and “catastrophic” if it did, are the twin dangers of rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification, both of which are a result of climate change.

    Oil spills are considered far less of a threat both because they are less likely, and their damage is localised if it does occur.

    “Climate change is not a localised impact,” says Wachenfeld. “Unlike an oil spill, it doesn’t happen in one place; it happens everywhere. So the issue is scale. That’s what brings climate change to the top of the list. It’s simply the scale of the impact.”

    There is an irony that the cargo the stranded ship is carrying is coal. Even if the ship lost its entire supply of oil, the environmental catastrophe would still be less than the impact of the world’s continued burning of fossil fuels.

    So if Kevin Rudd is sincere about taking “any threat to the Great Barrier Reef fundamentally seriously” he should perhaps be looking more closely at the cargo on the ship, than its route or the hole in its fuel tank.’

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  3. The wider media have honed in on this lesser issue of an oil spill as it provides a much more tangible threat to the GBR than climate change does to the public. So this “localised impact” which David Wachenfield speaks of in the ABC news article (link in above comment) is not only why oil spills present far less of a threat, but also why there is so much more coverage of this oil spill than the also current but more detrimental effects of climate change.

    Is this a curse or a blessing in disguise? Will media coverage of smaller threats make the public increasingly aware of the reef, building up to an awareness of greater and more long term threats which can’t necessarily be communicated in a single photo? Or is the coverage of smaller threats a mere distraction from the bigger picture of climate change? I can’t predict the public response to such matters, but I wonder whether such coverage is helping or hindering the protection of the reef? Is any publicity good publicity? And will good publicity lead to appropriate political action?

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