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July 2004 Vol. 19, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Mike Ball Returns to Fight Global Warming

from the July, 2004 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Aussie Mike Ball explored England by foot and made up his mind about global warming during an enforced break from the dive industry that officially ended in April. Sidelined for nearly three years during a dispute with the majority shareholder of the company he founded, Mike Ball Dive Expeditions, Ball, 56, visited Britain several times to hike in national parks, where he was disturbed by the contrast between the "pristine" parkland and smog in the distance over midlands cities. He returned to Australia, convinced of a link between heavy industry and damage to coral reefs caused by rising sea temperatures.

"The environmentalists are a lonely voice in the crowd, but we should be doing more to support them," he said. "Divers go to reefs that were once spectacular ecosystems and are now barren and desolate through coral bleaching."

Ball paid $7.3 million Australian (about $5.1 million US) to buy out his Japanese partners in Crenate Pty Ltd, to whom he had sold two-thirds of the company in 1990 when battling with high interest rates and flat business caused by an airline pilots' strike. He said the deal had resolved a dispute over the direction of the company, which came to a head in September 2001 when his partners declined to renew his contract as chief executive officer. He then invoked a deadlock clause in their agreement to buy back control. The company runs three live-aboard boats, the Paradise Sport out of PNG, the Super Sport from Cairns, and Spoil Sport based in Townsville. To Ball, global warming was a long-term concern.

"Everyone in the industry is watching the temperatures each year and looking for signs of bleaching," he said. Dive operators were relieved by the latest report that said water temperatures were dropping and that there had been no coral bleaching this summer.

"Even if there is some damage, I am hopeful the Great Barrier Reef will be a great destination for many years to come. But we can't bury our heads in the sand on signs that there is some significant damage on some reefs. The signs are there now. The whole world needs to wake up."

-- Ian Farzer, Townsville Bulletin

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