Earth perspectives, 1/9 The Earth viewed over the Great Barrier Reef

Olafur Eliasson2020

Serpentine Galleries

Serpentine Galleries
London , United Kingdom

1/9: The Earth viewed over the Great Barrier Reef 

At the centre of the Earth view above is the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland, Australia. This is the world’s biggest single structure made entirely by living organisms and is the most extensive reef system on the planet. It is also the most biologically diverse ecosystem in the world, home to vulnerable and endangered species, many of which can be found nowhere else. The reef has long been culturally and spiritually significant to Aboriginal Australian and Torres Strait Islander peoples, so it marks an important intersection between fragile cultural and biological heritages.

This ‘Great Barrier’ not only is a physical threshold in the ocean – it also represents an ecological threshold that humans are pushing the limits of. Currently facing its third mass bleaching event in five years, the Great Barrier Reef may already be at a tipping point, and projections warn that global warming could destroy the whole reef by 2050. To curb the prognosis of catastrophic collapse, the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (RRAP) has been weighing proposals for methods to reduce local water temperatures by blocking sunlight, for example, with human-made fog, with ‘cloud brightening’, and by covering the ocean surface with a molecule-thick layer of calcium carbonate. Researchers are also looking into developing physical infrastructure to help the coral survive, and even breeding hardier coral varieties with gene variations for heat tolerance.

While these measures could buy us valuable time, the experts emphasise that none of these technologies are substitutes for the only truly effective solution: ambitious legislation for global emissions reduction.


  • Title: Earth perspectives, 1/9 The Earth viewed over the Great Barrier Reef
  • Creator: Olafur Eliasson
  • Date Created: 2020

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps