Day 59: Ch-Ch-Changes

by ashleighpenrod

At some point every single day, I think about global warming and how our climate is changing. It’s a scary and interesting phenomenon, and the planet’s transition—both naturally and through human intervention—is becoming more and more apparent.

Traveling through this extremely beautiful Australian climate has made me even more aware of the changes happening around the world.

Parts of Australia are in a drought this year. Ciara and I witnessed the results of the lack of rain as we drove north through north Queensland and saw dry creeks, brown fields and fire warnings mixed in with the lush natural tropics of the area. And we were in the wettest part of the continent—during the rainiest season of the year. Nearly every public bathroom we visited displayed a sign just above the sink with a plea for water conservation. (Granted, when we arrived at our final destination, at a hostel just south of Cairns, it was absolutely pelting rain. But the pelting may have been due to the incoming cyclone.)

Last weekend, she and I went on a sailing trip around the Whitsunday Islands and snorkeled through parts of the Great Barrier Reef. It was extraordinary. I especially enjoyed floating over the reef with my head submerged, watching an amazing world unfold underneath me while listening to the electric snapping sounds of the Rainbow Parrot Fish munching on coral. (I imagined the snapping sounds were coming from the electric, deadly jellyfish I’d heard so much about, but my fears were dissuaded when I witnessed the scraping and scratching of the coral. Fish are loud eaters.)

The beautiful and noisy reef I just met is swiftly disappearing, along with the other wildlife who are part of it.

I feel lucky to have been able to swim up close to the reef and briefly experience the water animal kingdom. And my sense of luck is paired with an understanding that the reef will not always look as it did when I saw it. It will die and disappear, much as many other species of plants and animals have died and disappeared.

With you as my digital witness, I hereby promise to do everything I can to move myself onto the positive side of the climate change equation. I pledge to be more aware of my natural environment and will act as its steward, not its enemy.

After all the natural gifts I’ve received on this trip, it seems like the least I can do.

Great Barrier Reef