My name is Ava; I’m a 13-year-old living in Sydney.
I’ve grown up with the privilege of being able to visit wonderful places and wondrous creatures. I’ve been on trips to the Great Barrier Reef, I’ve seen seals, penguins, sharks and whales in the wild and I often go swimming at beaches that haven’t yet been taken over by our plastic bottles or tin cans. I am lucky, lucky to be able to see these things and take in their beauty. But luck isn’t a renewable resource – unlike the sun, get yourself a few solar panels! Luck can’t last future generations, or us, for very long. And luck definitely won’t last long enough to save the ocean, the real life source of the earth, at the rate we’re going…
“In 175 years, humans have managed to bring an enormous, 500,000-year-old ecosystem to the brink of death.”
The Great Barrier Reef is a glorious landmark that has flourished for 500,000 years, the coast of Queensland has been it’s home for half a million years. Meanwhile, the modern form of humans we know today have existed for 200,000 years, not even half of the time that the Great Barrier Reef has been around.
Even so, the Barrier Reef only started deteriorating when the industrial revolution began, which was during the 18th century. In 175 years, humans have managed to bring an enormous, 500,000 year old ecosystem to the brink of death. If the reef dies, so do the many important creatures that feed off of it. Any damage to any ecosystem on the planet will ultimately affect us. Not only is the ocean home to countless unique species of plants and animals, it’s a place that everyone should be able to experience the beauty of, anywhere in the world. I remember the first time I ever visited the reef, I was 10 – if I remember correctly – and each and every day I saw a new creature, whether it was a black-tipped reef shark, a stingray gliding across the sand or a huge clam with little blue and green spots. It was completely magical. I couldn’t get enough of swimming through the cool water and looking at turtles or starfish. At night, I witnessed miniscule baby turtles hatch out of their shells on the beach and crawl towards the gentle waves to swim into their new lives. Hopefully our careless littering hasn’t hurt any of those little turtles. The Great Barrier Reef is just one single ecosystem out of many gorgeous places to visit all across the globe, but of course it isn’t the only victim to our quickly dissipating ‘luck’.
“It’s a line used over and over again, and sometimes people forget what it means but you can make a difference with one tiny act of beautiful kindness.”
I seem to have given this article a bit of a sad mood up until now, so I’ll share some great news: you can help! It’s a line used over and over again, and sometimes people forget what it means but you can make a difference with one tiny act of beautiful kindness. Whenever you see a little scrap of candy wrapper or an old plastic bottle, just pick it up and pop it in the nearest bin. I can assure you, it really doesn’t matter how small the piece of plastic is, because if these bits and pieces get into the ocean, they become even smaller. They break down into micro plastics, pieces of plastic less than 5 millimetres in diameter, and if these toxic morsels find their way into any creature’s stomach, they don’t break down, they stay there. Unfortunately, many creatures don’t take time to sort through what they can and can’t eat, mostly because they didn’t HAVE to for the many thousands of years before today.
I ask you, for the sake of my generation and those to come, please help us grow up in a world where animals and ecosystems are happy and strong. Where it isn’t considered ‘lucky’ to gaze upon plants and creatures that have called the world home for so many years before us. Where animals don’t have to distinguish between bits of food and bits of plastic. I ask everyone to do the right thing and stop hoping that our luck won’t run out. Stop gambling with Mother Nature and start helping her make our oceans and, in time, the rest of the world glorious and strong again.