Since this article was first published, the Rivian embargo has ended, and The Outdoor Journal has published the full story. You can read it here.
At the end of this month, at the LA Auto Show, a new way to explore the world will be unveiled by Rivian. A company that you’ve probably never heard of, but has been busy for 9 years “developing vehicles and services that inspire people to get out and explore the world“. Until the unveil happens and the embargo that we’re held to ends, there is very little that The Outdoor Journal can tell you, but we can try and get you excited.
“to be used, to get dirty”
The company positions itself as aspirational, as many other manufacturers do, such as Tesla, Mercedes, BMW, and Jaguar. However, this is where the similarities between Rivian and these brands end. As explained to The Outdoor Journal, Rivian’s products are designed to sit at the cross section between being both aspirational and invitational (as opposed to presentational). Functionality is key to Rivian, the vehicles to be released will take us off road, and help us explore the world in a way that does not harm the environment. As Rivian Founder, RJ Scaringe explained during The Outdoor Journal’s sneak peak, the company is building vehicles that are designed “to be used, to get dirty”.
The company aims to enable adventure, enable activities, and enables you to go places. “Enable” is a word that RJ Scaringe repeated, again and again, during Wednesday’s event. The Outdoor Journal does not pretend to represent petrol heads, therefore this is a key word. When RJ used the word “Enable”, it spoke to us directly. How will Rivian empower us, and people like us to do the things that we love doing? How will it help us explore the world in a way that isn’t harmful, but also enhance the experience? Will we be able to trust these vehicles to take us to some of the most remote places in the world? We’ll be able to tell you more by the end of this month, but for now we believe it’s worth getting excited about.
.@Rivian‘s RJ Scaringe tells of not having “the burden of legacy” compared to the incumbents, innovating a “rugged, Patagonia-like” vehicle with a 440-mile range at $60k pricepoint. #LACOMO18pic.twitter.com/B7zmOOyLfI
That’s the conclusion of the latest five-yearly report from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, released on Friday. The report assessed literally hundreds of scientific studies published on the reef’s declining condition since the last report was published in 2014.
Looking to the future, the report said “the current rate of global warming will not allow the maintenance of a healthy reef for future generations […] the window of opportunity to improve the reef’s long-term future is now”.
But that window of opportunity is being squandered so long as Australia’s and the world’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.
The evidence on the reef’s condition is unequivocal
A logical national response to the outlook report would be a pledge to curb activity that contributes to global warming and damages the reef. Such action would include a ban on the new extraction of fossil fuels, phasing out coal-fired electricity generation, transitioning to electrified transport, controlling land clearing and reducing local stressors on the reef such as land-based runoff from agriculture.
But federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley’s response to the outlook report suggested she saw no need to take dramatic action on emissions, when she declared: “it’s the best managed reef in the world”.
But rather than meaningfully tackle Australia’s contribution to climate change, the federal government has focused its efforts on fixing the damage wrought on the reef. For example as part of a A$444 million grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the government has allocated $100 million for reef restoration and adaptation projects over the next five years or so.
It showed authorities have failed to reach water quality targets set under the Reef 2050 Plan – Australia’s long-term plan for improving the condition of the reef.
For example the plan sets a target that by 2025, 90% of sugarcane land in reef catchments should have adopted improved farming practices. However the report showed the adoption had occurred on just 9.8% of land, earning the sugarcane sector a grade of “E”.
So yes, the reef is definitely in danger
The 2019 outlook report and other submissions from Australia will be assessed next year when the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meets to determine if the Great Barrier Reef should be listed as “in danger” – an outcome the federal government will fight hard to avoid.
An in-danger listing would signal to the world that the reef was in peril, and put the federal government under greater pressure to urgently prevent further damage. Such a listing would be embarrassing for Australia, which presents itself as a world’s-best manager of its natural assets.
The outlook report maintains that the attributes of the Great Barrier Reef
that led to its inscription as a world heritage area in 1981 are still intact, despite the loss of close to half of the corals in 2016 and 2017.
But by any rational assessment, the Great Barrier Reef is in danger. Most of the pressures on the reef are ongoing, and some are escalating – notably anthropogenic heating, also known as human-induced climate change.
And current efforts to protect the reef are demonstrably failing. For example despite an ongoing “control” program, outbreaks of the damaging crown-of-thorns starfish – triggered by poor water quality – have spread throughout the reef.
The federal government has recently argued that climate change should not form the basis for an in-danger listing, because rising emissions are not the responsibility of individual countries. The argument comes despite Australia having one of the highest per capita emissions rates in the world.
But as Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise – an outcome supported by government policy – the continued downward trajectory of the Great Barrier Reef is inevitable.
Cover photo: A supplied image obtained Thursday, June 6, 2013 of holiday makers in the Great Barrier Reef, Tropical North Queensland, October 2008. ReefLive, a live 12-hour interactive online show about the reef, will be broadcast on YouTube from 10am (AEST) on Friday to coincide with World Ocean Day on Saturday. (AAP Image/Supplied by Tourism and Events Queensland, Richard Fitzpatrick) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY