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Australia Censors Global Scientific Report – bad trend?

Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef

The recent UN report on World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate details the potential threat of climate change to World Heritage Sites on five continents, according to a New York Times article.  Despite the impact of climate change on unprecedented coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, a chapter originally included on Australia was removed at the country’s request amid fears for its tourism industry. The censored information can be read on a blog by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The request for removal is more than puzzling in light of Australia’s recognition ( in its 2014 Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report and its 2015 State Party Report on the Conservation of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area-Australia) that climate change is the biggest long-term threat to the Reef’s future and necessitates a long-term sustainability plan.

Further, in a letter accompanying its 2015 Report to UNESCO (see State Parties SOC Report at http://whc.unesco.org/en/soc/3234 ), Australia’s Minister for the Environment states that “…Australia firmly believes that the property does not warrant inclusion in the List of World Heritage Properties in Danger”. Yet, UNESCO’s describes “Potential Danger” as being “faced with a major threat which could have deleterious effects on its inherent characteristics”, such as “threatening impacts of climatic factors”.

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