How To Get Eyes On The Reef

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“We are going to lose about 90% of reefs globally, that’s just the science.”

There’s no place like the ocean; to me it is home. The reprieve of stepping onto the sand and disconnecting from the nightmares of land-locked cities will never lose it’s touch. In fact, being without it makes me nervous. It’s a place that lends perspective – like looking up the stars. Compared to the vastness of the sea and the sky, our problems don’t really matter.

But the truth is, we are now at war whether we like it, or not. We are battling the clock, the climate change deniers and the glacial realisation that we really messed up. Sacrifices are going to have to be made, while we fight tooth and nail for the coral reefs that count. Cue the 50 Reefs initiative.

The 50 Reefs chief scientist and the director of UQ’s Global Institute, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg will over the course of the year determine which coral reefs have the greatest chance of surviving climate change.

“These reefs will play a key role in re-seeding the reefs of tomorrow as ocean conditions stabilise,” Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said.

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To execute the initiative there will be three branches – scientific research, conservation and communication. As someone with a grade 10 knowledge of science, there’s little I can do for the first two, but everyone can spread the word. However there is a real stigma that surrounds environment protection. Those who defend it are met with skepticism, and are forced to claw their way into rooms that others can just walk into. They’re not hippies chanting a hypothetical catastrophe. The evidence is there, and their fight has always been getting the facts heard.

One aim of the 50 Reef plan is to make it onto the 6 o’clock news. So how does this small pack of scientists plan to replace Trump on the front page? While facts such as “we could lose all reefs by 2050” are compelling, they wear thin over time. When we first hear it our reaction is often one of panic, but by the fifth we’ve come to terms with it.

A key element of their communication campaign should be what I call the Pangolin approach. Instead of focussing on the ominous, overarching facts, environment protectors should readjust their macro lens. It’s time to zoom in on the animals and make it personal, because that’s what people notice.

If you don’t believe me, watch below.

As film maker Jack Harries, cofounder of JacksGap highlighted “Pangolins are the most traded mammal on earth, but you may not have even heard of them”.

The reality is, whilst we know the reefs are at risk it’s difficult to comprehend the magnitude of its extinction. It goes beyond the white coral skeleton that will decompose with time, it’s also about the ecosystems that will be buried along with it. Fish, turtles, and species we have not even know of yet, will vanish. Not only that, but it also risks a significant food source and livelihood for over half a billion people.

“To see the relationship between animal and carer in a single frame was very relevant for people to actually care”.

The relationship between the reef and the human populations it supports is crucial and seemingly unrealised. Therefore, by adopting case studies that focus on the specific animal species and the people who survive off the reef, the public will soon realise what I said at the beginning – the ocean is vast and vital.

I understand that whilst conservation efforts are made for individual species every day, such as the Australian Koala Foundation, the reef case studies would work as puzzle pieces to develop a well-rounded picture of what we have to lose.

America You Fucked Up, But Remember The Power Is Still Yours

Trump is President, that can’t be helped. So what happens now? It’s actually quite simple.

First, close the chasm that Trump created. Many have said that America has never been more divided, a trait that I think we can credit to the new President elect. To sew his seeds of power, Trump capitalised on fear and the key issues that would trigger an all out opinion war. And guess what! He prevailed. But now he now wants to be the saviour that brings America back together, “united”.

The reaction to this comment has been an understandable outrage, with the hashtag #NotMyPresident overpowering twitter. Peaceful and violent protests broke out in New York, Portland, Chicago, Washington DC, L.A., Boston, Oakland, Philadelphia, Richmond and even Dallas! Trump divided them and he will come to realise that he was the cause of what will become his own political nightmare.

The only way America is going to heal is to remember that one another is hurting. Trump was elected because of the pain felt in middle America, and now women, immigrants and the LGBTQIA community are hurting for fear that their country will also turn their back on them. Recognise your pain, recognise the unnecessary hate and collaborate to design a future that works for both sides.

Second is get INFORMED. This has been said time and again, but it’s more important than ever. With the amount of falsehoods promoted by the Trump administration, it’s easy to see where many got it wrong. He was considered the voice of transparency, while Hillary was the supposed liar. But you have many operating under false assumptions. One Trump supporter said to Waleed Aly at a Trump rally that he was pro-life as he wished to protect babies from being decapitated at birth. No – that’s not typical abortion protocol.  Use the information at your finger tips to form an educated opinion, and rally for the cause you support. But know your oppositions standpoint, and attempt to understand it from their point of view.

Third is speak up. Stop fighting one another, but remain passionate about what you believe in. Don’t let this man divide you any further. Be smarter, be compassionate, and rein him in when he goes too far. That’s how you’re going to survive the next four years.

Epilogue Do I blame America? Absolutely. But, not the Trump voters. Nearly half the population didn’t even turn up on election day. It is them that we really have to blame here. Everyone else was just exercising their democratic rights and voting for the candidate they supported. If you’re mad, and didn’t vote – this is on you, you’re complicit to his victory. But, moving on!

How This US Election Could Actually Improve Democracy

Admittedly, the United States is teetering on the edge of having a potentially authoritarian President, however the fear of Donald Trump may actually be the kick in the ass that millennials need. Of course they are easy to dismiss, given their voting history, but the fear of Trump is powerful.

In the 2012, election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, only 49% of people under the age of 30 voted. Low participation has aways been common amongst millennials in the United States, but reaching out to them has never been more important. Having just surpassed baby-boomers as the largest living generation, they could potentially be a powerful secret weapon.

This fact has not gone unrecognised in the lead-up to the election, with news streams calling Gen Y out, urging them to vote. Buzzfeed came forward with a 15 minute video, explaining the differences between both major parties; Vox has been running in depth analyses on the debates; Casey Neistat along with a string of YouTubers have announced who they will be voting for; and the never ending social media cycles are churning out more political hashtags than ever before.

The ramifications of low participation are immense and can be seen by the the shock result of the EU Referendum in the UK. 73% of young people were in favour of staying, but only 36% of millennials turned up on voting day. Many claimed they couldn’t decide what to vote for, or simply that they forgot when it was. There is no place for these excuses. If you’re unsure of anything – a parties policies, or the date of an election – just Google it.

Low participation rates however are understandable. Politics can be disheartening, particularly for Generation Y. When do politicians do anything for them? Whilst this is a valid point,the reason politicians don’t do anything for millennials is that it doesn’t earn them votes. Politicians provide policies for those who elect them, and older people vote!

But this election goes beyond the merits of a party, which is often the driving factor for voting. It has become a gamble of choosing the lesser of two evils; Hillary or Trump. This election could definitely be a turning point for US politics, but it could arguably strengthen democracy. Perhaps this atypical election was what was needed to bring the youth into the fold?

Dear Republicans (Be sensible)

Dear Republicans,

Subject: An open letter, a final plea.

There are so many things I could say. We could talk about how Trump wants to activate the use of nuclear weapons in the US. We could talk about the Wall. We could talk about how he wants to fight gun violence with guns. We could talk about his views on abortion, foreign policy, immigration and on climate change. But the thing is, all these conversations would lead to the same conclusion, he is unfit to lead a country.

Let me introduce myself, I’m a 22 year old from Australia. I grew up in what was an era of renewed hope in the United States. That was all because of one man, Barack Obama. It’s amazing what one man can do to a country, and inspire globally.  I fear that Trump could have the same level of impact, just in the opposite way.

I’m not writing this to tell anyone to vote for Hillary Clinton. It’s not my place to do that. Instead, I believe the Republican party needs a new candidate. To be seen as a legitimate party, this is the only way. Many have spoken out this week, including former Presidential candidate John McCain, withdrawing their support for ‘the Donald’. Surely, that is a sign.

Trump and his supporters have been a laughing stock worldwide, but it’s high time you and I take this problem seriously. This verbal floundering maniac can’t even pay his taxes, so what makes you think he would make a capable head of state.

Please don’t let hindsight be the chord that pulls in rationality. He is going to cost you the election or the respectability your country, so act swiftly.

Sincerely –

The Intersection of Politics and Music

This unlikely pairing has had an ongoing fling for centuries, with music often reflecting the lifestyle of its flamboyant partner, politics. So when in 2016 have the two had a rendezvous?

First cab off the rank is the Black Eyed Peas with their remake of their 2003 anthem Where Is The Love. The track itself is an ode to this absolute disaster of a year, commemorating the collapse of global affairs, whilst targeting gun violence.  The video features images from the Syrian war, the migrant crisis (including three-year-old Alan Kurdi on the beach) and Black Lives Matter protests. The most distressing part of the video is the appearances from Sandra Sterling, the aunt of Alton who was killed by police earlier this year, Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando who was controversially shot, and David O’Brown, the Dallas Police Chief.

Beyoncé’s Formation has also been dubbed a public declaration of her support of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Whilst there are no explicit ties to the organisation, powerful images within the video tell the whole story. The video shows a child dancing in front of a police riot and a wall spray painted with the words “stop shooting us”. Beyoncé also sinks a New Orleans police car.

Axis Of Awesome’s Jordan has recently come out publicly as transgender and gives some insight into her experience in their cover of Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Since Caitlin Jenner came onto the scene, transgender has become a topical subject on the media agenda. Finally a dialogue was brought to the fore and promoted a new strain of acceptance. This has been vital for lobbyist groups promoting puberty blockers, and to protecting the rights of transgender parents.

Macklemore’s Kevin highlights a lesser known epidemic in America, drug addiction. The rapper tells the tale of a young musician who lost his life under the influence of prescription medication. Many are focussed on gun violence, but in 2014 47,000 people were killed by overdoses – more than were killed by guns, or in traffic accidents. In a year where the news cycle has been dominated by trivial Trump quotes, songs like these are an important reminder that important political issues can be sidelined. Irrespective of a crises gravity.

The last and possibly the largest connection between politics and music in 2016 is Beyoncé’s  entire album, ‘Lemonade’, which was released conveniently in the same year as the US election. The concept album describes the inner torment of a jilted wife, whose husband has had sexual extra curricular activities. After working through the stages of depression and anger, the protagonist finds herself at the point of forgiveness, willing to uphold her wedding vows despite her partners indiscretions. Sound familiar? Oh yes, Hillary and Lewinsky a.k.a. Bey and Becky. One of the biggest stains on Clinton’s campaign was her decision to stay with Bill. People have perceived her as weak because of it. However, Beyoncé is a trendsetter, with many seeing her as one of the most powerful women in the world. If Bey stayed with Jay, then maybe people will stop judging Hillary for her choices.

Should we stand for something, or just stand in the way?

This is a small rant from a tired mind.

Politics is now filled with empty vessels: well-oiled politicians propelled by bureaucratic interests, with others campaigning with the sole intention of blocking them. It’s quite apparent as to why average joe’s are running against the pollies – but what do they stand for.

James Mathison –  an ex-Australian idol host, has literally entered the political race with the sole purpose of dismantling Tony Abbott. Not going to lie, Abbott is an incurable dullard. But, what are Mathison’s policies? People have cited his Twitter account (off to a great start), which feature the occasional rant about the mistreatment of asylum seekers and climate change. But sadly, 60 retweets and the odd hashtag isn’t going to change a thing.

Abbott is a Rhodes Scholar, with Law and Economics degrees. He is more than qualified to interpret the complexity and fiscal challenges of politics and the economy. Mathison may know how to host a TV program, but not a G20 summit. He needs a lot more than his blind optimism to succeed here.

Politics is about standing for something, not standing in someones way. Mathison is not a politician, he is a road block. I understand wanting to prevent Abbott’s re-election – it’s about protecting Australia. But to provide any service to the nation, you actually need to have something to offer. No more empty vessels, please.

QLD Lockout Laws: Da Fuq

As of July 1 2016 there will be no more tequila shots after midnight as we are conscripted into our new Saturday night curfew. Last drinks will be served at 2am, and last call at 3am. Not happy Jan.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk claims that these laws will make Queensland safer and save lives.

“The evidence is clear: reduced trading hours leads to reduced violence, and that’s what this Bill delivers,” Palaszczuk said.

And here is why I disagree.

The hours may change, but the drinking culture will roll on regardless. Oh Hello has already announced the opening of a new venue that will run from 12pm – 12am, and not to mention the rising popularity of Sunday seshs in the last few years.

Many are concerned about the effect this will have on the nightlife industry – disrupting venues, holding work hostage from hospitality workers, and restricting music performances. This is all true – but we will adjust whether these laws are enforced or not.

Welcome to Australia, beer is literally in the country bio. Going to bars is how we socialise, discover new bands, and try new craft creations. So as if we are ever going to stop. Unfortunately, violence does come with the territory. But like I said, all that these laws are going to change is the hours in which this happens.

Violence will just occur in daylight. Not only that – by removing people from security-protected venues, we are encouraging them to stay at home. There is no bouncer to break up a fight in a domestic setting, so how is having uncontrolled parties in the suburbs a better alternative than going to the valley?

The progress reports of this new Bill will inevitably argue that violence in the targeted areas has decreased. This will be the case because nobody will actually be out! Instead, these laws will encourage drinking in unchecked domestic settings, and new opening hours for bars and clubs.

Other strategies need to be enforced to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence. These could be tougher penalties, fines, education – whatever. But telling us when we can and can’t drink outside won’t do anything because we will find other ways.

What Trump Got Right

This will be short because I honestly can’t find it within myself to praise Donald Trump for long. However, it does have to be said – the man is honest. He doesn’t delude the public with political jargon, or even try to sugarcoat things – he says it how he sees it. There is no denying that he subscribes to the moron society, but the sad reality is I get why people are drawn to him.

Democratically Australia has been compromised in the last decade with three of our elected Prime Minister’s being usurped mid-term. The fate of same-sex marriage is also being held hostage as a re-election tactic; and even after the election there’s no telling if they will uphold their end of the bargain. The trust has been lost between the elected and the electorate on a global scale. So, having the masses favour someone as indelicate and upfront as Trump can’t be surprising.

That said, he is also gaining popularity through provocation, and demagoguery. In many ways he fits the definition of a politician.

Why aren’t we talking about the Maldives?

It might be a picturesque holiday destination, but hidden behind the resorts and palm trees there is a sinister game at play. If you haven’t heard about the Petro Regime you wouldn’t be alone. Somehow, it has gone completely unnoticed by the media. That is, until recently.

Mohamed Nasheed is the first name you need to know. He was once an acclaimed world Climate Change spokesperson, democratic leader, and former President of the Maldives. However, he is currently serving a thirteen year prison sentence as a result of a totalitarian regime that swindled the nation in 2012.

An important thing to note is that Nasheed was the first democratically elected President of the Maldives. However, much like a clingy ex, the former dictatorship just couldn’t let it go. After creating an alliance with Islamic extremists, the former dictator’s half-brother Abdulla Yameen orchestrated a violent coup in 2012. Nasheed was held at gun point that led to his forced resignation.

Yameen installed himself as President by rigging the election process, and Nasheed was jailed on counts of “terrorism.” However, Nasheed was not the only target. At present, every opposition leader in the country are in prison or under threat, along with 1,700 citizens who peacefully defended the democratic system. Independent media outlets have been pillaged, journalist’s have gone missing, and most recently the former lawyer for Nasheed was stabbed in the head in broad daylight in the Maldives’ capital Male.

The sad truth is the Maldives has become a breeding ground for terrorism and corruption. More than 200 people from the Maldives have joined ISIS, leaving the nation with the highest number per capita of any state in the world. As it is such a sought after tourism destination, the likelihood of a repeat of the attacks similar to the beaches of Tunisia, that killed 38 tourists, is high.

There are many factors at play here, ISIS and the death of democracy to name a few. So how on earth is Kelly Clarkson trending on Facebook, yet this gets swept under the rug?

 

A Black, White & Grey World

The black and white flag of ISIL is representative of two camps; non-believers and believers. To them the divide between right and wrong is clear, there is no grey area. But, as history has shown, this is not the case. In war there aren’t heroes and villains. Take the Vietnam War for instance, America a crowd favourite in the Western world, could in fact be considered the wrongdoer. Whilst their quest to end the spread of communism was noble (in a democratic lens), it came at a cost of two million lives. Even after American troops were evacuated, generations of Vietnamese had to live the remainder days with severe chemical poisoning.

But, the concept of the grey area exerts itself on all contexts, not just war. It applies to ethics, morality, behaviour, values, legislation, welfare, etcetera. Take a white lie for example. Whilst you may be sparing someone’s feelings, it comes at the expense of your reliability. So, is it right or wrong? The answer: it depends on the context and how you justify it.

ISIL themselves are engaging in the pitfalls of the grey area through their preachings of the Quran. Their version is one interpretation of the book of worship. Much like the bible or a Shakespeare play, a passage can be interpreted a thousand different ways. There are no absolutes, merely individual versions of perceived truths.


The reality is this world does not consist of ‘two encampments,’ in fact the globe is rich with diversity. We all have different belief systems, aspirations and motivations. And you know what, that’s okay. So, if a minority group somehow believes fear and xenophobia will derail us into two opposing sides, please think again. Not only are they confronting unsurmountable odds, but the truth is we know better. This is why ISIL won’t prevail. Like TV viewers in the sixties, we don’t look at the world in black and white terms, we see different shades of grey. In this world there are few certainties, so don’t promote falsities. The days of uniting against a common enemy have come to a close. Today, irrespective of our backgrounds, we have greater capacity to think for ourselves, and interpret the world in our own way. We have not come this far to live by anyone else’s terms, but our own.