Sometimes a particular story encapsulates a moment in time–and I read one such story today. Earlier today, a Chinese-owned tanker ship carrying coal from Australia crashed into the Great Barrier Reef, prompting an oil spill, and exacerbating existing tensions between the two countries over a mining scandal. It's a powerful example of how reliant countries are on each other for the energy choices they make, and how the planet's natural systems bear the brundt.

The Neng Sheng 1, the Chinese-owned freigher, struck the reef 15 miles outside shipping lanes in a restricted portion of the reef.  The 950 tonnes of heavy fuel oil has already covered a 3km by 100m strip of ocean in a slick, and if the ship breaks up, the 65,000 tonnes of coal would cover a portion of the reef. Removing the ship from where it's lodged is a massive challenge, say Australia authorities.

Some of the most striking actions on October 24 were from China and Australia–you can see one from the Reef above, and from China at left. These countries are giants in the coal industry, both producing and consuming vast amounts. The trade between the two has threatened one of the most vital ecosystems on our planet, the Great Barrier Reef, already at risk due to ocean acidification.

Fortunately, there's amazing amounts of citizen action around climate change in both countries. To learn more, check out our friends at the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and the China Youth Climate Action Network. Thanks also to It's Getting Hot in Here for the heads up about this story.