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Sydney Australia

Australia’s Northern Territory Uluru Issues Climbing Ban

The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board has unanimously voted to close the giant monolith to climbers due to the spiritual significance to the site. As the rightful owners of Uluru, the Anangu people had to wait until 1979 before they were recognized as the traditional owners, even though they had lived there for over 40,000 years.

The world is an amazing place with many natural habitats to explore and one of the greatest activities to do while on holiday is to head to the local attractions and see some of the world’s most impressive sights. However by doing so we are not only killing these areas but we are also trespassing on some sacred sites. Often, people are simply not aware of this and would be much more respectful if they were aware of the history and rightful ownership. 1985 saw the freehold title deeds for the area handed back but it took until 2001 for there to be an official Anangu ranger on the site.

But why is Uluru seen as such a sacred site?

The Anangu believe the world was unformed and featureless in the beginning with ancestral beings emerging from this void. These beings chose to create all living forms and species as they travelled the land, with Uluru being just one of the resulting physical evidence. However the Anangu are aware of the wonder of Uluru and can understand why people want to come and visit the area, they just do not want people to climb the rock.

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Even with signs in six languages dotted around the area climbers have still headed up Uluru, a sign of disrespect not only to Uluru but to the Anangu people too.

Despite the board voting to close the site in 2017, they decided to allow a two year period in which climbers could complete their goal, to tick ‘climb the rock’ off their bucket list. This ban has been a long time coming and has prompted calls of bans in other parts of the country too, including from the Jinibara people regarding the Sunshine Coast Mountains in Queensland. So if tourists are no longer allowed to climb certain attractions – they can still go and look at the inspiring monolith – where can they go? Travel experts at www.tripgeek.com have revealed some alternative natural attractions across the world’s ‘largest island and smallest continent’.

Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

For many years there have been calls for tourists to stop visiting the Great Barrier Reef due to the fact it is dying. Although climate change has been sited for 89% of the issues, tourism has also been blamed. However head to the other side of this great country and you can find the gorgeous Ningaloo Reef, located just 1200kms north of Perth. Here you have the opportunity to swim with gentle whale sharks or humpback whales, view the reef from above in a microlight or go snorkelling in Turquoise Bay. Not only is this area in many ways more beautiful than the Great Barrier Reef, it is also less busy meaning you can have a better experience.

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The Pinnacles

Also in Western Australia, The Pinnacles are a good alternative to Uluru. These natural limestone structures are a short drive away from the ocean and is the Coral Coast’s biggest natural attraction – although Mount Augustus is also a must see as it is the biggest rock (monocline) on earth! For a slightly quirkier trip head over to Wave Rock in the Hyden Wildlife Park where you can also find The Humps and The Hippo’s Yawn.

The Three Sisters

With the call to close the Sunshine Coast Mountains you could always head south to The Blue Mountains and visit the Three Sisters in Katoomba. According to Aboriginal legend these unusual rock formations represent three sisters who were turned to stone. And thanks to the different seasons, and even the different lights of the day, the views can vary dramatically.

Coober Pedy

When visiting the centre of Australia and wondering at the enormity of Uluru why not head south to Coober Pedy and visit the town that is essentially underground. Due to the immense heat around 50% of the 2,500 population live underground in ‘dugouts’ and you can find many hotels and restaurants underground too.

Margaret River Caves

If being underground appeals to you then head to Western Australia and visit the caves in Margaret River. The four caves – Mammoth Cave, Lake Cave, Jewel Cave and Ngilgi Cave – are open for the public but are preserved thanks to the walkways and ban on removing anything natural from them. You can also head further south and see where the ‘two oceans meet’ at Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. A popular spot for tourists wishing to see the Southern Ocean and Indian Ocean meet.

Florida

Florida Might Require Prescription Sunscreen In Order To Save The Coral Reefs

Florida is battling the constant threat of climate change with a new proposed law that might require a prescription in order for people to buy certain sunscreens.  The law is in a greater effort to protect Florida’s marine life and its dying coral reefs. The “American Great Barrier Reef” is located on the coast of the Florida Keys and is the planet’s third largest coral reef ecosystem. Climbing ocean temperatures have been devastating the reef, causing massive amounts of coral bleaching to occur. Over a third of the reef has already died, causing a decrease in marine life as well. The Florida Aquarium did recently discover a way to regenerate coral pillars in a lab setting, which is an amazing accomplishment that will ultimately help regenerate what was lost. However, as climate change continues to be a problem, the dying reefs will still be in grave danger, Florida legislators are doing everything they can to slow that process until the world catches up and helps the planet, which now includes requiring a prescription to buy sunscreen.

Not all sunscreens would require a prescription, in the proposed bill from Senator Linda Stewart, all sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, two chemicals found in most sunscreens and are key in protecting against UV radiation. However, they also are being proven to contribute to coral bleaching and thus killing marine life vital to Florida’s ecosystems. The reefs of the world are extremely important to all ecosystems of life, not just the ones living in the reefs themselves.

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According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coral reefs are “natural protection for coastlines, absorbing 97% of a wave’s energy to prevent erosion and potential property damage incurred from currents and storms.” In addition, coral reefs hold 25% of all marine life, losing them is losing a quarter of all ocean life, a reality that’s seeming more and more likely every day.  

While sunscreen may not be the main or biggest cause of the destruction of the reefs, it definitely is a major contributing factor. The NOAA reported that the combination of ocean pollution, which sunscreen is technically categorized under, and rising ocean temperatures has already wiped out 30% of the planet’s reefs. The organization also recommends you look for “reef safe” sunscreens, which is just any sunscreen not containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. The proposed bill has already been approved in Hawaii which has so far been acting as the “guinea pig” of this law. Many individuals are concerned for a multitude of reasons about what will happen if this bill passes, including the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). 

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The AAD has been very outspoken against this bill including when it passed in Hawaii, their main concern lies in skin cancer rates increasing even more drastically than they already have. According to CNN, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. There were 66,000 new cases of skin cancer in 2009 which increased to more than 82,000 by 2016. Florida alone has the second highest rate for skin cancer due to its proximity to the equator, (CNN). However, many individuals aren’t concerned so much with a potential lack of sunscreen choices, but more so how their current sunscreens have been affecting them. If those chemicals are strong enough to bleach coral, what are they doing to your body? 

Legislators and the Food and Drug Administration both have come forward as these laws have gained traction, and stated that there’s no evidence proving oxybenzone and octinoxate are harmful to humans, however, there’s never been any real in depth research done on the two chemicals, so no one really knows. The FDA is recommending that regardless of your stance on this sunscreen bill, you make sure you have a sunscreen that at least contains Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. In the meantime, they will be performing extensive tests on twelve different sunscreen ingredients, including oxybenzone and octinoxate, to truly determine all the effects of the chemicals.