Most of you reading this have either read or shared without reading Rowan Jacobsen's Outside Online article, Obituary: Great Barrier Reef (25 Million BC - 2016). Scary isn't it? One of the world's most beautiful underwater wonders now crumbled to dust and swept away by the currents. It is a scary thought, but not true. I care for the environment, but articles like these make me cringe. It is sensationalism and inaccurate, the worst combination of what can go wrong with journalism. Now this form for writing has become more common than every before and it must stop.
Normally, I would not care much for an article like Jacobsen's article since I decided to check on how factual it was, but since it has been shared so much, the misinformation has spread like wildfire. I could not count the number of people on my news feed who posted about this and talked about it. The GBR is not dead. However, it is dying. That is an undeniable fact. Though, there is a clear distinction between dead and dying. Semantics aside, there were numerous factual and historical errors made as well, which were pointed out here.
I don't know if the author was being either satirical or trying to help the GBR, but I have not read or seen anything from him about that as of writing this article. If he was being satirical, he should probably withdraw his application to The Onion. If he was trying to help the GBR by raising awareness, I think he did the opposite. Calling the GBR dead is basically saying nothing more can be done for it, which is completely wrong. If nothing more can be done for it, people will stop caring about it. A coral reef can still recover from a bleaching event. Conservation efforts in Australia just for the Great Barrier Reef are massive. An estimated seventy-eight percent of the reef survived the last bleaching event, so it may be dying, but it is far from dead. The Great Barrier Reef can survive because there is more we can do for it.
It is sensationalist articles like this one that ultimately do more harm than good. I remember reading how Key West, Florida, my birthplace, should be sitting underwater due to global warming right now given some articles from the 1990s and what I read in my 6th grade science class, yet here in 2016 it still stands just above sea level. Are sea levels rising? Yes, but not at catastrophic rates. Sensationalism either borderlines or blends with alarmism, and they are at their worse when it comes to the environment.
The majority of this problem comes from the fact that most of us do not check out facts or the source we read an article from. We mostly get our information from journalists rather than looking at new scientific literature. To be honest, I can see why. We don't want to read about methods and analysis, all we want to hear about is the simplified results. We don't know how often science and our understanding of the world changes every day unless you study the sciences. The best we can do to remedy this is to better educate people in scientific understanding, and that journalist keep to the facts and not sensationalist or exaggerate scientific findings.