A devastating report detailing damage to the Great Barrier Reef has been leaked online after the Australian government quashed it over fears it could impact tourism, the Independent is reporting.
The report on the reef, which is experiencing extensive coral devastation, was removed after officials admitted it wanted it kept under wraps for economic reasons.
According to the report — written by Adam Markham from the Union of Concerned Scientists – the reef is showing damage due mostly to climate change, with half of the coral either dead or dying.
The critical portion was omitted from UNESCO’s ‘World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate’ report at the request Australia’s Department of Environment who objected to its inclusion.
“Recent experience in Australia had shown that negative commentary about the status of world heritage properties impacted on tourism,” explained a spokesperson for Australia’s environment department in an interview.
What may have drawn the department’s ire was a section that blamed tourism specifically.
“Tourism infrastructure, along with other coastal developments, can cause habitat degradation and damaging pollution and sediment run-off,” states the report, which can be found at the Union of Concerned Scientists’ website.
According to the researchers, failure to take immediate environmental measures — including curbing greenhouse gas emissions — may lead to a coral decline of 80 percent within the next 40 years.