Australia’s coral barrier reef keeps dying and coming back

May 31, 2018

THE Great Barrier Reef, which runs for 2,300km along the coast of Queensland, is one of the icons of environmentalism. Conservationists constantly worry that human activity, particularly greenhouse-gas-induced global warming, will harm or even destroy it. Such fears are not foolish, but they do reflect a view of the reef’s permanence that is at variance with the truth. For, a mere 10,000 years ago, the coral-covered seabed that now forms the Great Barrier Reef was dry land—a fact lamented in the songs, tales and dances of indigenous people living along the coast, which speak of homelands being drowned by incoming waters.

The reality of the Great Barrier Reef’s existence is that it is a movable feast. Reef-...

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