At the first World Climate Conference in 1979, it was concluded that carbon dioxide could play a key role in changing the Earth’s climate, but the sources were unknown. By 1997, climate change was slowly gaining speed on the world stage and the Kyoto Protocol was formed. The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This treaty recognizes developed countries as primarily responsible for the emission of greenhouse gases, and places target emission goals for each country to commit to. While President George W. Bush declined to send the Kyoto protocol to Congress and rejected the climate change ideas, many other countries stayed on board including China and Australia. For Australia, climate change mitigation became a popular idea once its effects could be seen in the Great Barrier Reef.
Carbon dioxide that is pumped into the atmosphere by carbon emitting vehicles eventually seeps its way back down and into the ocean. This process causes ocean acidification, and makes the water environment undesirable for the creatures living in it. The warming of the ocean that is also caused by greenhouse gas emissions causes major stress in the corals, and bleaching ensues. Under stress, corals expel the tiny algae that normally live inside their tissues and supply them with most of their food, causing them to eventually starve to death. A dive survey off of Cape York, Australia found up to 50% mortality in the reef from coral bleaching, which lead to a government announcement claiming death among the corals is most likely linked to rising temperatures in the ocean. Coral bleaching does not mean certain death for the organisms, but from 2015-2016 about 12% of corals have been bleached due to El Nino and climate change, and scientists fear that over half of these populations will not be able to recover. Some 620 miles of the Great Barrier reef has suffered significant bleaching and the pristine qualities are becoming blurred by human emissions.
Even with scientific and first-hand visual evidence, almost half of politicians still deny climate change as a human created event to this day.
For more information on what Climate Change is doing to our planet and how, check out the National Geographic documentary, Before the Flood, at http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/before-the-flood/. Watch the trailer below:
 “Kyoto Protocol.” UNFCC. 2014.