Sunday, June 12, 2016
Coral corruption: An honest environmentalist in trouble
Honest scientists are an endangered species. Must toe the line. Below are three recent articles referring to Prof. Peter Ridd. You can see why he's got the Warmists steaming
When marine scientist Peter Ridd suspected something was wrong with photographs being used to highlight the rapid decline of the Great Barrier Reef, he did what good scientists are supposed to do: he sent a team to check the facts.
After attempting to blow the whistle on what he found — healthy corals — Professor Ridd was censured by James Cook University and threatened with the sack. After a formal investigation, Professor Ridd — a renowned campaigner for quality assurance over coral research from JCU’s Marine Geophysics Laboratory — was found guilty of "failing to act in a collegial way and in the academic spirit of the institution".
His crime was to encourage questioning of two of the nation’s leading reef institutions, the Centre of Excellence for Coral Studies and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, on whether they knew that photographs they had published and claimed to show long-term collapse of reef health could be misleading and wrong.
"These photographs are a big deal as they are plastered right across the internet and used very widely to claim damage," Professor Ridd told The Weekend Australian.
The photographs were taken near Stone Island off Bowen. A photograph taken in the late 19th century shows healthy coral. An accompanying picture supposedly of the same reef in 1994 is devoid of coral. When the before-and-after shots were used by GBRMPA in its 2014 report, the authority said: "Historical photographs of inshore coral reefs have been especially powerful in illustrating changes over time, and that the change illustrated is typical of many inshore reefs."
Professor Ridd said it was only possible to guess within a kilometre or two where the original photograph was taken and it would not be unusual to find great coral in one spot and nothing a kilometre away, as his researchers had done. Nor was it possible to say what had killed the coral in the 1994 picture.
"In fact, there are literally hundreds of square kilometres of dead reef-flat on the Great Barrier Reef which was killed due to the slow sea-level fall of about a meter that has occurred over the last 5000 years," he said. "My point is not that they have probably got this completely wrong but rather what are the quality assurance measures they take to try to ensure they are not telling a misleading story?"
A GBRMPA spokesman said last night "the historical photos serve to demonstrate the vulnerability of nearshore coral reefs, rather than a specific cause for their decline.
"Ongoing monitoring shows coral growth in some locations, however this doesn’t detract from the bigger picture, which shows shallow inshore areas of the Great Barrier Reef south of Port Douglas have clearly degraded over a period of decades." Centre of Excellence for Coral Studies chairman Terry Hughes did not respond to questions from The Weekend Australian.
Professor Ridd was disciplined for breaching principle 1 of JCU’s code of conduct by "not displaying responsibility in respecting the reputations of other colleagues". He has been told that if he does it again he may be found guilty of serious misconduct.
A JCU spokesman said it was university policy not to comment on individual staff, but that the university’s marine science was subject to "the same quality assurance processes that govern the conduct of, and delivery of, science internationally".
This is the crux of the issue for Professor Ridd: "I feel as though I am the whistleblower."
His potential downfall is the result of a long campaign for better quality assurance standards for ocean and reef research, which has come under fire globally for exaggerating bad news and ignoring the good. Reef politics is a hot topic in the wake of widescale bleaching of corals on the Great Barrier Reef as part of what US agencies have called the world’s third mass-bleaching event.
About a quarter of the Great Barrier Reef has died and could take years to rebuild. The damage is concentrated in the northern section off Cape York. The scientific response to the bleaching has exposed a rift between GBRMPA and the JCU’s Coral Bleaching Taskforce led by Professor Hughes over how bleaching data should be treated and presented to the public. Conservation groups have run hard on the issue, with graphic images of dying corals. All sides of politics have responded with increased funding to reduce sediment flow and to combat crown of thorns starfish.
University of Western Australia marine biologist Carlos Duarte argued in BioScience last year that bias contributed to "perpetuating the perception of ocean calamities in the absence of robust evidence".
A paper published this year claimed scientific journals had exaggerated bad news on ocean acidification and played down the doubts. Former GBRMPA chairman Ian McPhail accused activists of "exaggerating the impact of coral bleaching for political and financial gain". Dr McPhail told The Weekend Australian it "seems that there is a group of researchers who begin with the premise that all is disaster".
Concerns about quality assurance in science are not confined to the reef. Drug-makers generated headlines when they were unable to replicate the results of landmark studies in the basic science of cancer. Professor Ridd poses the question: "Is the situation in marine science likely to be worse than in medicine and pharmaceuticals, psychology, education? Do we have a decent system of replication and checking of results?
"Is there a chance that many marine scientists are partially driven by ideology? Is there a chance that peer review among this group is self-selecting of the dominant idea? Is there a robust debate without intimidation?"
Professor Ridd wants an independent agency to check the science before governments commit to spending hundreds of millions of dollars.
There is no doubt the current bleaching is a serious event but there are also many questions still to be answered. The consensus position of reef experts is that bleaching events will get worse as ocean temperatures continue to rise because of climate change.
Great Barrier Reef death in five years is "laughable"
CLAIMS by a James Cook University professor that the Great Barrier Reef will be "terminal" in five years have been rubbished by one of his own colleagues.
In a scientific paper released this week, JCU’s Dr Jon Brodie and Professor Richard Pearson warned the natural wonder would be in a terminal condition within five years without a $10 billion commitment during the federal election campaign to improve water quality.
They said many parts of the Reef were in bad shape from pollution, climate change, and overfishing, and they were continuing to decline.
The researchers predicted a wave of crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks in 2025 triggered by poor water quality.
But JCU marine geophysicist Professor Peter Ridd said his colleagues’ claims were "laughable". "I think the threats to the Barrier Reef are greatly exaggerated and mostly based upon science that is very poorly quality assured," he said.
Latest findings by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority show 93 per cent of the natural wonder has varying levels of coral bleaching which was worse in remote parts off Cape York.
Prof Ridd said bleaching was an entirely natural event. "It has always occurred over the millennia, and this is nothing special," he said. "It’s no different to say that on the land, when in extremely dry conditions for example, eucalypt trees lose their leaves.
"There are all sorts of response mechanisms to extreme conditions. "High temperature is one of those, and bleaching is the response corals have."
Mr Brodie said if climate change continued at its current pace the combination of its effects and a starfish outbreak or similar event could lead to permanent loss of the coral.
He said the current federal election campaign was probably the last chance for politicians to put forward their plans of action on water quality and climate change if the GBR was to avoid permanent damage.
"It takes time for change to happen and we need to start fast. If something is not done in this election cycle then we may not see good coral again in our children’s lifetime," he said.
Prof Ridd agreed that coral bleaching needed to be studied, but questioned spending too many resources to do it. "Australia faces far worse environmental problems than threats to the Reef," he said.
"Invasive species and noxious weeds on our rangelands are a much greater threat than the small amount of loss that we may or may not have had on the Barrier Reef."
Great Barrier Reef science needs 'quality assurance' to guarantee accuracy and better policy decisions: academic
A James Cook University academic claims a lack of 'quality assurance' of science about the Great Barrier Reef is failing policy makers
Audiences in far north Queensland have been told scientific claims made about the health of the Great Barrier Reef are not subjected to the same level of "antagonistic rigour" as those made in the private sector.
Physical oceanographer Peter Ridd, from James Cook University, says quality assurance is a well-understood concept in just about every industry, but not in the scientific world, where arguably claims and predictions are frequently used to influence decision and policymakers.
Professor Ridd reviewed the data and found "major problems and statistical errors" in several scientific papers in which claims were made, for example, about calcification rates and a reduction in coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef.
The widely-accepted system of scientific peer review was failing to deliver the antagonistic scrutiny or rigour required, he claimed.
"They may be your mates, they could hate you and really give you a hard time, but the crucial thing is peer review is only a read of the actual paper," he said.
"It won't delve into the data and some of the data sets are enormous and it can take you months and months of work to really check if there's not another interpretation and that's the problem.
"The peer review is a great start in terms of quality assurance and we need it for all science, but for the really important science where you're going to make big policy decisions...
"When you're going to spend a billion dollars to save the reef or you're going to close down the fishing or the coal industry, you need to have a better system of quality assurance than this peer review process and that is what we don't do.
"It does happen in the private industry, but it doesn't happen for the public good science that we're talking about."
Professor Ridd said in the absence of a guaranteed method of "proper antagonistic review", enormous resources and attention was being directed at some environmental threats at the expense of others.
"A lot of the science is proposing hypothesises that there is perhaps a threat, but the data, in many cases, doesn't actually support that there's a huge risk, that there's a risk there but maybe not as large as we thought.
"For example, we have diabolical problems with feral animals and noxious weeds, but almost no money is spent on those problems while we spend a lot of money on the reef.
"I am not totally sure the Great Barrier Reef isn't majorly threatened or majorly damaged, but what I'm totally sure about is the scientific system is not working, that we're not guaranteeing debate."
Monday, June 6, 2016
Great Barrier Reef: scientists ‘exaggerated’ coral bleaching
Activist scientists and lobby groups have distorted surveys, maps and data to misrepresent the extent and impact of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, according to the chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Russell Reichelt.
A full survey of the reef released yesterday by the authority and the Australian Institute of Marine Science said 75 per cent of the reef would escape unscathed.
Dr Reichelt said the vast bulk of bleaching damage was confined to the far northern section off Cape York, which had the best prospect of recovery due to the lack of onshore development and high water quality. [i.e. There are virtually NO farms along that part of the coast -- which gives the lie to the constant Greenie claim that farm runoff is what is damaging the reef]
Activist groups last week seized on reports that a UN assessment of the impacts of climate change on iconic Australian World Heritage sites, including the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and the Tasmanian Wilderness was censored by Australia. It later emerged that the report the government was accused of censoring was complimentary of the Turnbull government’s actions to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
The political debate and the release of the authority’s survey results highlights a growing conflict between the lead Barrier Reef agency and the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce headed by Terry Hughes.
Dr Reichelt said the authority had withdrawn from a joint announcement on coral bleaching with Professor Hughes this week "because we didn’t think it told the whole story". The taskforce said mass bleaching had killed 35 per cent of corals on the northern and central Great Barrier Reef.
Dr Reichelt said maps accompanying the research had been misleading, exaggerating the impact. "I don’t know whether it was a deliberate sleight of hand or lack of geographic knowledge but it certainly suits the purpose of the people who sent it out," he said.
"This is a frightening enough story with the facts, you don’t need to dress them up. We don’t want to be seen as saying there is no problem out there but we do want people to understand there is a lot of the reef that is unscathed."
Dr Reichelt said there had been widespread misinterpretation of how much of the reef had died. "We’ve seen headlines stating that 93 per cent of the reef is practically dead," he said. "We’ve also seen reports that 35 per cent, or even 50 per cent, of the entire reef is now gone.
"However, based on our combined results so far, the overall mortality rate is 22 per cent — and about 85 per cent of that die-off has occurred in the far north between the tip of Cape York and just north of Lizard Island, 250km north of Cairns. Seventy-five per cent of the reef will come out in a few months time as recovered."
Former climate change commissioner Tim Flannery described diving on the Great Barrier Reef near Port Douglas recently as "one of the saddest days of my life".
"This great organism, the size of Germany and arguably the most diverse place on earth, is dying before our eyes,’’ Dr Flannery wrote for Fairfax Media. "Having watched my father dying two years ago, I know what the signs of slipping away are. This is death, which ever-rising temperatures will allow no recovery from. Unless we act now."
Dr Reichelt said Dr Flannery’s language had been "dramatic" and "theatrical" and his prognosis, although of concern, was "speculative". Dr Reichelt also rejected reports, based on leaked draft documents, that improving water quality would cost $16 billion.
He said the interim report had been rejected by a board of which he was member and "taken totally out of context" in media reports.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society said the leaked information demonstrated the legacy of years of poor farming practices and government inaction, and highlighted the scale of ambition needed for political leaders to protect the reef.
The society’s reef campaign director, Imogen Zethoven, said Australia’s plans to protect the reef’s water quality were "shockingly underfunded".
Meanwhile, tourism operators have stepped up a campaign to fight back against the onslaught of negative publicity. "It seems some marine scientists have decided to use the bleaching event to highlight their personal political beliefs and lobby for increased funding in an election year," said Association of Marine Park Tour Operators executive director Col McKenzie.
Some Corroboration from the Cairns Post: (Cairns is the port through which the reef is most often accessed)
The Cairns-based Reef and Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC) has also released findings from 133 underwater survey dives carried out between Port Douglas and Cairns by a combined taskforce last week.
It showed key reef tourism sites escaped mass bleaching with only 13.7 per cent showing signs of coral mortality.
The findings seemingly contradict an estimate by the Townsville-based ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies earlier this week that mass bleaching killed 35 per cent of corals on the northern and central part of the Reef.
AMPTO [tour operators -- who see the reef daily] executive director Col McKenzie said this claim was "utter rubbish."
"It seems that some marine scientists have decided to use the bleaching event for their personal political beliefs and lobby for increased funding in an election year,’’ he said.
Friday, June 3, 2016
Australia scrubbed from UN climate change report after government intervention
Some Green/Left horror below. There's nothing "threatened" in Australia any more! What they are carefully not mentioning is that corals periodically undergo bleaching events and rapidly recover. So a portrayal of the GBR as bleached would be an unfair depiction of the reef as it usually is. Most "threatened" natural features stay that way for a long time so it is reasonable to depict them in their threatened state. But that is not so with the GBR.
And the claim that the bleaching is the result of "climate change" is false, so putting it into a climate change report would be wrong. The warming events of late 2015 and early 2016 were contemporaneous with a CO2 STASIS. Below are the CO2 levels at Cape Grim for the relevant period. The first two columns give month and year and the 5th column gives CO2 levels. So NO PART of the warming events at that time were due to a rise in CO2. They were all due to El Nino
All mentions of Australia were removed from the final version of a Unesco report on climate change and world heritage sites after the Australian government objected on the grounds it could impact on tourism
Every reference to Australia was scrubbed from the final version of a major UN report on climate change after the Australian government intervened, objecting that the information could harm tourism.
Guardian Australia can reveal the report "World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate", which Unesco jointly published with the United Nations environment program and the Union of Concerned Scientists on Friday, initially had a key chapter on the Great Barrier Reef, as well as small sections on Kakadu and the Tasmanian forests.
But when the Australian Department of Environment saw a draft of the report, it objected, and every mention of Australia was removed by Unesco. Will Steffen, one of the scientific reviewers of the axed section on the reef, said Australia’s move was reminiscent of "the old Soviet Union".
No sections about any other country were removed from the report. The removals left Australia as the only inhabited continent on the planet with no mentions.
Explaining the decision to object to the report, a spokesperson for the environment department told Guardian Australia: "Recent experience in Australia had shown that negative commentary about the status of world heritage properties impacted on tourism."
As a result of climate change combined with weather phenomena, the Great Barrier Reef is in the midst of the worst crisis in recorded history. Unusually warm water has caused 93% of the reefs along the 2,300km site to experience bleaching. In the northern most pristine part, scientists think half the coral might have died.
The omission was "frankly astounding," Steffen said. [What would be astounding would be if Steffen told the full truth about global warming]
Sunday, May 29, 2016
Far from bleached, reef’s in the pink
West Australian coral is doing fine while Queensland (Eastern) coral is extensively bleached. So any pretense that the Queensland situation is part of a global phenomenon is at least dubious. There's some very confused thinking about El Nino and La Nina below. The journalist appears to have the two mixed up
Scientists have discovered that the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef off the West Australian coast — the largest fringing reef in Australia — has escaped any recent coral bleaching and that some areas are in the same condition as 30 years ago.
CSIRO ecologist Damian Thomson said yesterday a major study of the reef that ended this month had found that Ningaloo was unaffected by the current bleaching "event" that has hit Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef and other reefs off WA’s northern coast.
He said the research — funded by CSIRO and BHP Billiton through a $5.4 million partnership — showed Ningaloo was more resilient than expected.
"It’s really pleasing that Ningaloo hasn’t undergone any bleaching — it’s fantastic news actually," Mr Thompson said.
The clean bill of health will be welcomed by the tourism industry around Exmouth, a town reliant on thousands of visitors visiting the reef every year between April and July to snorkel with migrating whale sharks. Later this year, tourists will also be able to swim with humpback whales, which is expected to double the length of Exmouth’s $6m tourist season.
Conservationists are worried about the human impact on the reef and have also raised concerns in recent years about increased oil and gas exploration — including by BHP — close to Ningaloo Marine Park.
Mr Thomson said while coral bleaching remained a possible future threat to the reef, the sheer number of people visiting the area was its major challenge.
"It’s a relatively small tract of reef when you look at the extent of the Australian coastline, but the number of people that love holidaying there or going there for other activities, it is very well used. That is probably the main challenge, managing that."
Mr Thomson said bleaching tended to occur on Australia’s west coast during La Nina years, when strong currents from Indonesia pushed warm water south to Ningaloo. But during the recent El Nino, those strong currents had not occurred, resulting in cooler waters.
CSIRO research surveyed 70 sites at Ningaloo and found no coral bleached at locations where bleaching was recorded in 2010. At Osprey, on the western part of Ningaloo, results were as good as those taken in 1987. Ningaloo was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011 for its biological diversity and conservation significance.
The findings are for the first year of field work undertaken by the Ningaloo Outlook project, which aims to increase the ecological understanding of the reefs.
Friday, May 20, 2016
Warmists just LOVE the Great Barrier Reef
It enables them to tell SO many lies. That coral "bleaching" (expulsion of symbiotic algae) has been happening for millions of years goes unmentioned below -- as is the fact that corals have in the past coped with far greater temperature variations than anything we have seen recently. And corals are still with us, funnily enough.
They do respond to temperature, among other things, but the "bleaching" is mainly in order to recruit different varieties of symbiotic algae. And corals are hardier than they look. In "bleached" form they can survive for quite a while on just their normal filter feeding. "Bleached" corals are NOT dead.
And the present ocean warming is clearly due to El Nino, a temporary warming that is part of a natural cycle. It's actually the La Nina that normally follows El Nino that is the biggest concern. Corals are more likely to "bleach" in response to cooling than they are to warming.
And let me again mention my favourite fact about coral: In 1954 the USA exploded a 15 megaton thermonuclear device over Bikini atoll. And Bikini atoll had lots of coral. So there is no coral there at all now? Far from it. The corals there now are huge, abundant and thriving. So if coral reefs can recover from an H-bomb blast, why is a pissy one degree temperature rise in GBR waters of concern?
Corals at Bikini atoll today
Strange that all that goes unmentioned below, isn't it? You would not suspect any of it from the screeches below. The words below are "an orchestrated litany of lies", to quote a distinguished judge on another matter. The Waremists just want more funding and are prepared to lie and deceive to get it. Global warming is a global racket dreamt up by scientists for the benefit of scientists
The Federal Government’s plan to save the Great Barrier Reef is “totally inadequate,” and if whoever forms government doesn’t commit at least $10 billion this election the natural wonder is likely to be doomed, scientists at James Cook University have said.
This extraordinary warning comes from leading water quality expert Jon Brodie and Emeritus Professor Richard Pearson, who are speaking out after they published a paper this week. In an interview this morning, Brodie said the Reef “will never be in its full gory again, we can’t expect that, [but]it’s going to get worse unless we do something”.
The Scientists said the twin threats of poor water quality and climate change could put the Reef in “terminal” decline within five years, unless whoever forms government comes to office with a comprehensive, cohesive, and adequately-funded rescue plan.
The Coalition Government has released a plan, known as Reef 2050, but it scarcely mentions climate change and Brodie said it is “totally inadequate”. “I’m probably the leading water quality expert for the Great Barrier Reef over the last 30 years and I’m saying the water quality [aspect of the plan]is absolutely inadequate,” he said.
“It was meant to be a comprehensive plan, of course, but as has been pointed out by everyone, and particularly the Australian Academy of Science, it’s totally inadequate,” he said.
The James Cook University scientists said catchment and coastal management programs need to be funded in the order of $1 billion per year over the next ten years. “We need a plan to fix up water quality as best we can, to provide some resilience against the oncoming climate change impacts,” Brodie said.
The Great Barrier Reef has made headlines over recent months as 93 per cent of the Reef, which is the only living structure that can be seen from space, has been affected by coral bleaching.
Fuelled by warming waters, the coral bleaching event was the worst in recorded history. The uncompromising heat was a result of an El Nino climate system, superimposed over baseline temperatures already pushed up by climate change.
“Before climate change kicked in we simply never saw bleaching,” Professor Terry Hughes has previously told New Matilda. “It’s quite confronting that we’ve now got to the stage that every El Nino event – and they happen every few years – is a threat to the Great Barrier Reef,” said Hughes, the Director of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.
The threats posed by climate change are exacerbated by plague-like outbreaks of Crown of Thorns Starfish, which are triggered by poor water quality. According to the James Cook University Scientists, the next outbreak is most likely to occur around 2025.
If we don’t make serious inroads at improving water quality by then, the fate of the Reef looks grim.
Brodie and Emeritus Professor Pearson are calling for management of the Reef to be extended beyond the bounds of the World Heritage Area, north to the Torres Strait, south to Hervey Bay, and inland to include the Great Barrier Reef catchment.
This would of course come at a cost. But Brodie points out that while $10 billion over ten years “may seem like a lot of money, we know that amount would be effective and it’s small by comparison to the economic worth of the Reef, which is around $20 billion per year”.
Current Federal funding, he said, “is almost nothing”. And that doesn’t look likely to change. “So far in the election campaign, we’ve seen no major commitments about the Great Barrier Reef at all from anybody really,” Brodie said.
The Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director at the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Imogen Zethoven said “the massive coral bleaching taking place right now on the Reef and the latest science over recent months all point in one direction: The outlook for the Reef is dire and we must act now.
“Things are worse than we thought for the Reef’s future, we are close to the brink of what this fragile ecosystem can tolerate without a credible plan for restoring it to good health,” she said.
“Australia’s current plans to protect the Reef are inadequate, short-sighted, lack appropriate funding and will not prevent its decline.”
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Wow! Somebody who knows what he is talking about on coral bleaching
There is a long article on Watts that reviews the science of what is known of the coral reef life-cycle. It has lots of surprises for people who have heard only the cries of disaster from Warmists. The single fact that stood out to me was that coral bleaching is most often a response to COOLING, not warming.
The article gives particular attention to the utterances of Warmists like Hoagy and completely demolishes them. It gives good grounds for regarding Hoagy as nothing but a fraud.
I have previously noted that coral bleaching is not coral death and that corals are very resilient to damage but this article gives chapter and verse of that. Anyone interested in the health of coral reefs needs to read this article. You will laugh at all future Warmist claims if you do.
Monday, April 25, 2016
Huge coral reef discovered at Amazon river mouth
More evidence of how poorly understood coral reefs are. Warmists are dogmatic that recent bleaching on the Northern part of Australia's GBR is due to global warming but who knows? This recent discovery was apparently a huge surprise. There were not supposed to be corals in that location. So it shows how little we actually know about how corals work
What it does show is that corals are highly adaptable and can survive a lot of challenges. It might also be noted that there are benthic corals in Icelandic waters that get no sunlight at all. They have become filter feeders. Some of the South American corals may be that too
Yup. Science is settled.
Scientists astonished to find 600-mile long reef under the muddy water in a site already marked for oil exploration
Scientists were ‘flabbergasted’ to discover the Amazon reef as coral usually thrives in clear, sunlit tropical waters.
A huge 3,600 sq mile (9,300 sq km) coral reef system has been found below the muddy waters off the mouth of the river Amazon, astonishing scientists, governments and oil companies who have started to explore on top of it.
The existence of the 600-mile long reef, which ranges from about 30-120m deep and stretches from French Guiana to Brazil’s Maranhão state, was not suspected because many of the world’s great rivers produce major gaps in reef systems where no corals grow.
In addition, there was little previous evidence because corals mostly thrive in clear, sunlit, salt water, and the equatorial waters near the mouth of the Amazon are some of the muddiest in the world, with vast quantities of sediment washed thousands of miles down the river and swept hundreds of miles out to sea.
But the reef appears to be thriving below the freshwater “plume”, or outflow, of the Amazon. Compared to many other reefs, the scientists say in a paper in Science Advances on Friday, it is is relatively “impoverished”. Nevertheless, they found over 60 species of sponges, 73 species of fish, spiny lobsters, stars and much other reef life.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Australian scientists write open letter demanding action on Great Barrier Reef as 93 per cent of the reef has been affected by coral bleaching due to climate change
But what CAN the government do if it's due to climate change? They want the government to stop all coal usage but that would do nothing for the reef. The proportion of CO2 added to the atmosphere by the burning of coal in Australia is minuscule. The whole thing is just a cynical and dishonest attempt to push their usual barrows by exploiting something that is almost certainly due to the El Nino weather oscillation and not to "climate change"
Dozens of Australian scientists have penned a letter to express major concern for the Great Barrier Reef, which is currently undergoing its worst coral bleaching in history.
The letter signed by 56 scientists urged the government to make phasing out fossil fuels and coal a major priority to save the reef.
'We are now seeing first hand the damage that climate change causes, and we have a duty of care to speak out,' the open letter stated.
'Australia must rapidly phase-out our existing ageing and inefficient coal-fired power stations.
'In addition, there can be no new coal mines. No new coal-fired power stations. The transition to a renewables-led energy system, already underway, must be greatly accelerated.'
The letter, published in The Courier-Mail as an advert, cost the $14,000 to publish and was funded by a the Climate Council successfully raised money from 250 sponsors.
A report by news.com.au noted the letter was published in the same week it was revealed 93 per cent of the world's largest reef was affected by coral bleaching, the worst case in recorded history.
Organisations are demanding further action from the federal government, with WWF Australia pushing for 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2035 and net zero carbon pollution before 2050, according to the report.
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Marxist paper says that barrier reef damage is being covered up by Murdoch newspaper
The main Murdoch paper in North Queensland, where the reef is, did cover the bleaching. It was just the main Murdoch paper in the South, where the reef is not, that mostly ignored the alarms.
And the "Courier Mail" had good reason to ignore the Greenie shrieks. Greenies have been crying "wolf" over bleaching almost incessantly for many years. Another such cry is not much news.
And the point is that corals always recover. On Bikini atoll the corals re-grew even after sustaining a direct hit from a thermo-nuclear blast. And even the chief reef alarmist said: I’d expect most of the corals from Cairns southwards to recover”
Coral bleaching is a complex event and it is only Warmists who are sure that global warming causes it. As NOAA says: "Coral bleaching is not well understood by scientists. Many different hypotheses exist as to the cause behind coral bleaching"
I grew up a short boat ride from the reef and as far back as I can remember (over 60 years) there have been alarms about damage to the reef, including bleaching. And that was long before global warming is supposed to have got going.
Assuming that warmer water is the problem, however, note one thing: Both the big 1998 die-back and the present die-back coincided with big El Nino events. And Australia is right in the path of an El Nino event. It's by far the most parsimonious hypothesis to say that the present problems of the reef are wholly an El Nino effect, and hence just another one of nature's cycles, nothing to do with global warming
But most of the people quoted below are well-known Warmists so they are too predictable to be heeded
The images went around the world. The snapshots of the Great Barrier Reef, from Cairns to Torres Strait, looked more like a pile of bones than coral. Professor Terry Hughes, director of the Australian Research Council’s centre of excellence for coral reef studies at James Cook University in Townsville, was surveying the reef by plane and helicopter. It was, he wrote on March 26, “the saddest trip of my life”.
From March 22, Hughes criss-crossed 520 individual reefs in four days, covering 3200 kilometres by air. Just four showed no evidence of bleaching. The further north Hughes travelled, over what were once the most pristine waters of the reef, unspoiled by the runoff that pollutes the south, the worse the bleaching became. Fringing reefs in Torres Strait, he said, were “completely white”.
The Australian Institute of Marine Science currently has 300 researchers swarming over the reef, complementing the aerial surveys. Reefs are scored on a scale of zero, which indicates no bleaching, to four, which means more than 60 per cent is bleached. Their observations have replicated Hughes’s. In the meantime, Hughes has continued southwards, trying to find a limit to the unfolding tragedy beneath him.
Like most scientists, Hughes prefers to talk in numbers. “I wouldn’t talk about the Barrier Reef dying or the killing of the reef or whatever. I think that’s overstating it,” he says. “I’ll say what number of reefs we’ve surveyed, how many are severely bleached and how many are not severely bleached – but then often the language gets changed, depending on the style of reporting by particular outlets.”
“It’s fair to say it’s getting more coverage outside Australia than inside.”
To clarify, bleached coral is not dead coral. It’s just very unhealthy. Varying combinations of heat stress, bright sunlight and poor water quality cause coral to expel the algae, or zooxanthellae, on which it feeds, and which also gives it its brilliant colour. This exposes the limestone skeleton beneath. Different types of coral are more susceptible to bleaching than others.
Hughes is clear, though: this is really, really serious. “There’s a window of opportunity to survey the corals when they’re severely bleached, because after a few weeks they start to die, and then the skeletons get covered in seaweed and you can’t see them from the air anymore,” he says. “We timed our northern surveys to coincide with the peak whiteness of the reefs, before there was significant mortality.”
North of Cooktown, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is now reporting up to 50 per cent mortality rates. The full extent of the damage, Hughes says, will take months to unfold. “Different corals linger for longer before they die – and also, of course, some of them won’t die, they will recover. I’d expect most of the corals from Cairns southwards to recover.”
When Hughes returned from his first sojourn north, his phone rang off the hook. In the week before April 7, according to the media monitoring company Meltwater, the story was reported more than 1000 times in 70 countries. Video footage given to ABC TV’s 7.30 and later used by the World Wildlife Fund has been viewed more than four million times. “It’s fair to say it’s getting more coverage outside Australia than inside,” Hughes says.
By any objective measure, the bleaching of the reef is a massive story. It’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world – the only Australian environmental feature to be granted such status. It’s home to about 215 species of birds, 30 types of whales or dolphins, half a dozen kinds of sea turtle, and 10 per cent of the entire world’s species of fish.
Any potential danger to the reef is economic and diplomatic as much as environmental. According to a Deloitte study commissioned by the Australian government in 2013, its value to the national economy is about $5.7 billion annually. It attracts two million international visitors each year. It employs close to 70,000 people on a full-time basis.
There have been some efforts to inform people about the devastation under way on the reef in the media. News Corp’s The Cairns Post – with a local readership whose livelihoods are directly threatened – has reported the issue, as has Fairfax’s Brisbane Times. But in Queensland’s only statewide newspaper you wouldn’t have read about Hughes’s findings or their ramifications. Since his surveys began, The Courier-Mail hasn’t interviewed him, nor sent one of its journalists into the field to verify either his or his colleagues’ observations.
“It basically shows they’re either in denial about the science,” says Ian Lowe, emeritus professor in the School of Science at Griffith University, “or they’re colluding in obscuring the science so the community don’t understand the threats being posed to the reef, both by climate change and by the associated acidification of the oceans, both of which put real pressure on corals.”
On March 25, the day Hughes completed his survey of the northern section of the reef, the newspaper ran a short piece on page three, lambasting Greenpeace for sharing an image of bleached coral taken in American Samoa that was incorrectly labelled as being from the Barrier Reef.
Last week, on April 7, The Courier-Mail ran on its front page a story titled “David Attenborough’s verdict: Still the most magical place on Earth”, accompanied by a picture of the famed naturalist and filmmaker standing atop some coral at low tide. Inside was a double-page spread headlined “It takes your breath away”, with the sub-head “Reports of reef’s death greatly exaggerated: Attenborough”.
Well, at least that was what the subeditor said. The lead quote came not from Attenborough, but from federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, after he was granted a preview of the first part of Attenborough’s TV series on the reef that aired last Sunday. “The key point that I had from seeing the first of the three parts is that clearly, the world’s Great Barrier Reef is still the world’s Great Barrier Reef,” Hunt said.
Had Hunt seen the third part, or had the reader progressed to the end of the article, they would have noted Attenborough’s conclusion: “The Great Barrier Reef is in grave danger. The twin perils brought by climate change – an increase in the ocean temperature and in its acidity – threaten its very existence. If they continue to rise at the present rate, the reefs will be gone within decades.”
The Courier-Mail’s relationship with environment organisations has been frosty since the departure of long-serving reporter Brian Williams. Williams says these issues have always waxed and waned. “Not long before I left The Courier-Mail I was doing stories on the prospect of this bleaching occurring, and I actually spoke to some friends in the conservation movement and suggested that the debate would swing back again.”
For now, though, the newspaper is running heavily in support of Adani’s massive Carmichael coalmine in the Galilee Basin, which had been given the go-ahead by the Queensland state government on April 3. “In the real world you need jobs,” began an editorial on the same day, which lambasted “hashtag activism” and defended the regulations it claimed would protect the reef.
“The science on the health of the reef is plain,” the paper said. “This great natural wonder loved by all Queenslanders faces a range of stresses – as it has during the entire past century – from agricultural runoff to the current coral bleaching.”
No mention was made of climate change. The science on that is plain, too: according to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, bleaching is caused primarily by heat stress. The authority also notes that the reef has in fact been bleached only twice previously in the past century – and those events were in 1998 and 2002. This event is far worse. Hughes has said the reef is being “fried”. It’s perhaps more accurate to say it’s being slowly boiled. Water temperatures are up to 35 degrees around Lizard Island, and about 2 degrees above normal summer averages generally.
Climate scientists say that in addition to 2015 being the hottest year since records began in 1880, water temperatures around Australia are at all-time highs. They point to more frequent El Niño events, and more intense cyclones. It’s not just the Barrier Reef that is suffering, either: corals are being bleached across the southern hemisphere, from the central and eastern Pacific across to the Caribbean.
Scientists usually fare poorly in the media for their struggle to speak in lay terms. Now, the government’s own experts are being dismissed as activists.
John Cook, a climate communication fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, says it’s a deliberate strategy. “It’s an attempt by people who oppose climate action to deliberately lump them together, and so when a scientist publishes empirical research about climate change, then they get labelled an activist.” Politicising science, he says, is a way of casting doubt on it.
“I remember having conversations with editors about how climate should be covered, and being told that it was a political story,” remembers Graham Readfearn, who launched his GreenBlog at The Courier-Mail in 2008, before resigning in 2010. “The politics are a distraction when the issue is quite literally staring you in the face, in the form of white coral.”
The newspaper’s website has since deleted all of Readfearn’s posts. Questions to The Courier-Mail’s editor, Lachlan Heywood, went unanswered.
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a professor of marine science at the University of Queensland with a special interest in the communication of science issues, notes that the premiere of Attenborough’s series on Sunday night was watched by 10.6 million people in Britain alone. But in Queensland, there is an eerie silence. In politics and in the state’s most-read newspaper, no one wants to talk about what is happening in front of them.
Monday, April 18, 2016
Coral reefs set to lose tolerance to bleaching as oceans warm
There's probably a few factual bits below but it's mostly just modelling crap. They at least acknowledge that corals do adapt -- which is a great leap forward for them
The future is not looking bright. Coral reefs are set to become more vulnerable to bleaching as rising temperatures cripple their self-defence mechanisms.
Bleaching occurs when warm waters strip away the colourful photosynthesising algae that provide nourishment to corals.
This happens during unusually warm periods, such as during El Niño years, but doesn’t always kill coral, which can recover when waters cool again.
Corals are often able to survive heatwaves by developing resistance during periods of milder warming, when water temperatures rise and cool off again, says Tracy Ainsworth of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. The corals are essentially given a warning for what’s about to come, a sort of practice run.
A little stress can help corals
"Corals that undergo smaller stress prior to a bleaching event are able to retain more symbionts within the tissue, those algae which are crucial for nutrition," says Ainsworth. "This has major implications as to whether or not it can survive."
Now that climate change is driving up ocean temperatures, there are fears that these acclimatisation periods will become shorter or disappear completely.
To get an idea of how warming waters might affect corals, Ainsworth and her colleagues studied patterns of sea surface temperatures at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef over the last three decades.
They found that during that time, 75 per cent of heatwaves were preceded by moderately warm temperatures. These can help cut coral mortality by 50 per cent.
More heat, more stress
They then modelled future scenarios and found that this proportion may drop to 22 per cent if sea surface temperatures rise by 2 °C, as could occur by 2100.
What’s more, they found that an increase in local water temperature of just 0.5 °C can lead to loss of this adaptation mechanism.
"We will no longer be getting a situation where corals have a small stress, a period of recovery due to water cooling, and then a big stress," says Ainsworth. "What we’ll see is an accumulation of one big stress."
Their experiments also confirmed the importance of practice runs, showing that corals developed a number of heat resistance strategies as the water warmed up.
"They upregulated their heat shock responses and all these other molecular mechanisms that prevented damage to the cells during the next stress," says Ainsworth.
But increasing sea temperatures caused by climate change will see that gap between the preparation period and the peak stress disappear, says study co-author Scott Heron of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Not too late
"Those temperatures will no longer drop below the stress levels," says Heron. "So instead of a gap to recover between the preparation period and the peak stress, the corals have an extended period of stress."
If these predictions are born out, coral cover in the Great Barrier Reef could dwindle to less than 5 per cent by the end of the century.
Nevertheless, it is not too late to turn things around. The researchers’ modelling studies demonstrated that aggressive efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions would result in no net decline in coral cover by the end of the century.
"I think we do still have hope, we should never give up," says Ainsworth.