Sunday, December 20, 2020

Greenies do something positive


Ecological “arks” will be created in the Great Barrier Reef under a new Federal Government funded program that for the first time links island health as critical to saving the coral.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley will today announce $5.5 million for a new island restoration program, starting with Morris Island off Cape York.

She said Lady Elliot Island on the reef’s southern border was the first regeneration project ever attempted at scale and its success could be replicated elsewhere.

“There are 1050 islands along the reef ranging from the pristine to former mine sites, disused tourism destinations and those that have been damaged by introduced pest species,” she said.

“As part of the Reef Islands initiative, Dr Kathy Townsend of Sunshine Coast University is leading new ‘leaf to reef’ research that follows the nutrient trail between islands and its importance to corals and marine life, as well as researching the importance of Lady Elliot’s reefs as a biodiversity ark in the region.”

Reef manager for the marine park authority Mark Read said overseas views particularly under-appreciated the complexity of the issue.

“For context the world heritage area is 348,000 square kilometres; it’s bigger than Italy, bigger than Japan and can sit Victoria and Tasmania within its boundaries. It stretches over 2000km and at its widest point is 250km, it’s 1050 islands, 3000 reefs – so trying to categorise that whole system within a single category, ultimately it fails and doesn’t do the system justice,” he said.

Lady Elliot Island is a genesis of what the Federal Government yesterday branded an “ecological ark” carrying the essential ingredients to rehabilitate the in-crisis reef, critically affected by natural and man-made climate change.

Gash and a dedicated team of scientists, backed by a string of Federal Government funded initiatives, are in part driven by a sketch discovered in archives drawn from a sailor aboard HMS Fly in 1843 of what the island sanctuary looked like then and could again.

“So many people say ‘oh but it’s hopeless, there is nothing we can do and it’s all going to die’ and I hate hearing that, it’s never hopeless,” Island custodian Gash said as he looks out over the turquoise waters on the southern point of the reef, 80km from the Queensland mainland.

In 1973 Lady Elliot Island was a dead 42-hectare coral atoll that after almost a century of mining for guano fertiliser was left barren, with no bird or sea life.

Now it boasts more than 1200 species of marine life including turtles and manta rays, whole forests of native Pisonia trees and grasses and the second highest diversity of breeding birds of any feature in the Great Barrier Reef after Raine Island on the reef’s northernmost tip.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley visited Lady Elliot this week to see first-hand the spectacular restoration result which she now hoped will be replicated elsewhere along the reef island chain starting with Morris Island, under a new $5.5 million investment.

Great Barrier Reef Foundation managing director Anna Marsden said without a doubt there were “dark days” ahead for the climate but Lady Elliot was a shining light in what could be achieved within our life times.

“The idea is these arks, these climate refuges, will carry the reef forward,” she said. “The habitat will be able to be the ones to go, before the dark days, then when the world gets its act together and the balance restores these are the places that will reopen the doors and repopulate.”

World renowned marine biologist Dr Kathy Townsend said the correlation between land life and reef marine life was now only being understood.

“The connection between coral cays and the island has been undervalued,” she said.

“The current dogma is where these coral cays are getting their nutrients but new research is showing these coral cays are creating nutrients for the reef in a balanced way. It’s not a dump but a pumping action … it’s like growing an island. Without healthy islands you wouldn’t have the same level of growth and biodiversity you see around the reef.”

She said there had been a 125 per cent increase in turtle habitat and they again were the primary herbivore about Lady Elliot which was keeping coral killing grasses down.

https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/national/new-funding-to-save-great-barrier-reef-and-create-ecological-arks/news-story/dac3be072bd9c1cf3083468a535c7aa4



Thursday, December 17, 2020

Scientists Discover Coral Reefs Recovered Quickly After Bleaching


It was a depressing if expected inevitability when Western Australia’s Rowley Shoals showed the first signs of mass coral bleaching earlier this year, but a follow-up survey has found a remarkable recovery looks likely to preserve the reef’s near-pristine health — at least for now.

Tom Holmes, the marine monitoring coordinator at the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation, and Attractions, said that while his team was still processing the data, it appeared the coral had pulled off an “amazing” return towards health over the past six months.

“We were expecting to see widespread mortality, and we just didn’t see it … which is a really amazing thing,” Dr. Holmes said.

The survey was a follow-up to one conducted in April that found as much as 60 percent of corals on some Rowley Shoals reefs had bleached after the most widespread marine heatwave since reliable satellite monitoring began in 1993.

It has long been known that high sea temperatures cause coral bleaching which can kill coral — as seen by the devastation of the Great Barrier Reef off the Queensland coast — but what is less well known is that bleached corals do not die immediately.

“So when a coral bleaches, it’s actually just a sign of initial stress,” Dr. Holmes said.

However, corals rely on these microscopic algae as a food source and cannot survive for long without them.

“If that stress continues for a long time and those corals remain white, then it can lead to mortality,” Dr. Holmes said.

“But there are some cases of bleaching around the world where … that stress hasn’t continued for a long time, and the corals have been able to take that alga back in from the water.”

Dr. Holmes believes that the vital time gap between bleaching and dying created a chance for the reefs to recover at the Rowley Shoals, a chain of three coral atolls 300 kilometers off Broome on the edge of Australia’s continental shelf.

https://principia-scientific.com/scientists-discover-coral-reefs-recovered-quickly-after-bleaching/


Monday, November 2, 2020

In the case of Peter Ridd, we’ll soon learn whether academic freedom matters


<i>Prof. Ridd was critical of alarmist utterances about the Barrier Reef coming from his university colleagues</i>

This week there were whoops of delight from Republicans over the appointment of conservative lawyer Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court. It will, they say, buttress democracy for decades to come. The Democrats were inconsolable, marking the rushed appointment as the end of democracy. The divide is fundamental: is it the role of America’s highest court to interpret law in humble deference to what the law says, or to change the law to suit social ­engineers who have grown ­impatient with the democratic process?

Everyone agrees on one thing: judges on the US Supreme Court can alter the country in profound ways.

By the way, two new judges were appointed to Australia’s High Court this week, although few will know their names. For the record, Simon Steward from Melbourne and Jacqueline Gleeson from Sydney, both former Federal Court judges and both in their early 50s, will serve long stints on our most influential court until they reach the mandatory retirement age of 70. Steward will join the court in December, and Gleeson, the daughter of former chief justice Murray Gleeson, will take up her seat in March next year.

Both judges will be watched closely by those who understand that the High Court can fundamentally change the direction of our country, too. Eighty per cent of its cases are mundane, having little impact on the country. The other 20 cent are the Big Bang cases. Through the intersection of law, politics and values, they can cause seismic shifts throughout the country.

Will Steward and Gleeson become roaming judicial adventurers making decisions like philo­sopher kings rather than humble judges? There are no guarantees. After all, the court’s most recent appointment, and disappointment, is Justice James Edelman. Part of the recent 4-3 majority decision in Love v The Commonwealth, along with fellow justices Michelle Gordon, Geoffrey Nettle and Virginia Bell, Edelman dreamt up a legally bogus racial privilege to exclude two men from the normal application of our non-citizens laws.

Chief Justice Susan Kiefel’s scathing rebuke of the majority should be inscribed somewhere along the hallowed halls of the High Court for the newcomers.

“Implications are not devised by the judiciary,” Kiefel said, because they are “antithetical to the judicial function since they involve an appeal to the personal philosophy or preferences of judges”.

The departure of Nettle and Bell means that, without the support from the new appointees, Edelman and Gordon might be relegated to minority dissents the next time they choose to cook up propositions to suit their preferred outcomes, and pronounce them as the law of the land.

All eyes will be on the newest judges especially if the High Court decides to hear the case involving physics professor Peter Ridd. In August, Ridd lodged a 13-page ­application for special leave to ­appeal a 2018 Federal Court decision that upheld his sacking by James Cook University. On Thursday, the High Court agreed to hear oral arguments about special leave in February next year. This is interesting. The vast maj­ority of applications are rejected “on the papers” — in other words without an oral hearing.

Next, the High Court will decide if the Ridd case is sufficiently important to warrant judgment from the nation’s highest court. There is, as former High Court judge Michael Kirby once said, no point pretending that it is a logical or scientific process. In other words, it’s down to whether the court finds a matter interesting. The test is subjective, their decision unappealable.

For the punters, the raw odds are about one in 10: last year, of a total of 445 special leave applications, the court granted leave in 52 cases.

Insiders give Ridd a 50-50 chance of making it over the next hurdle. The case, after all, is not just about the “substantial injustice” of JCU’s termination of Ridd’s career, claiming he acted in an uncollegial manner in breach of the university’s vaguely drafted code of conduct when he raised questions about the quality of climate research at JCU.

If the High Court grants Ridd special leave to appeal, the court’s final determination is likely to ­reverberate across the country. Many universities have intellectual freedom clauses in their ­enterprise agreements with academics. And most universities have ambiguously drafted codes of conduct that could be used to restrict these same intellectual freedom clauses. Where does that leave academic freedom in this country?

Ridd’s case is being led by Melbourne QC Stuart Wood, while JCU has Bret Walker SC in its corner. Ridd’s claim for special leave to appeal includes a powerful observation from legal scholar Ron­ald Dworkin that “any invasion of academic freedom is not only harmful in itself, but also makes future invasions more likely”.

There is another harm to ­society. If JCU’s infringement of academic freedom is allowed to stand, it will have a chilling effect on other academics. We will never know what research escapes rigorous testing by academics who do not want to jeopardise their jobs.

The High Court is being asked to rule on the core mission of a university: is it, first and foremost, to defend academic freedom and further research, to seek the truth by challenging orthodoxies that can become dangerously inaccurate over time?

If, on the other hand, universities are allowed to sack academics in circumstances similar to Ridd, with obvious impacts for the quality of research and learning, then Australians are entitled to confirmation of this dystopian brave new world at Australian universities from our highest court.

And dystopian it certainly is. Along with making 17 findings against Ridd, two speech directions and five confidentiality directions (even prohibiting him at one stage from speaking with his wife about the matter), JCU also issued a “no satire” direction against Ridd demanding he not make fun of the disciplinary proceedings.

No satire? It’s hard not to make fun of a taxpayer-funded university that censures, then sacks, a respected professor of physics, and employee of 27 years, a man ranked in the top 5 per cent of researchers globally for raising questions about the quality of climate science research at the Great Barrier Reef.

Only this week, this report slipped under the ABC News’s ­Armageddon radar: “Researchers have found a new reef that is as tall as a skyscraper in the waters off Cape York in north Queensland.” As Ridd told Inquirer this week, “we are constantly learning new, and incredible things about the reef”.

The shoddy, disproportionate treatment of the physics professor by JCU has become the centrifugal force to better protect academic freedom at universities, not just via the courts, but by parliament too.

Ridd’s sacking led Education Minister Dan Tehan to initiate a review into free speech and academic freedom at Australian universities in 2019 by Robert French. Nothing had been done prior to Tehan taking the portfolio. This week, Tehan tabled the Higher Education Support Amendment (Freedom of Speech) Bill 2020, which gives effect to legislative changes suggested by the former chief justice. The bill requires that universities commit to “academic freedom” — as defined by French — in return for getting registration, and taxpayer funds.

These are indeed interesting times for academic freedom, with a review under way by Professor Sally Walker into the implementation by universities of the model code on academic freedom also recommended by French.

The model code is intended to operate as an umbrella-like standard to fall over all university policies, codes, pronouncements, etc. If a particular enterprise agreement has a broader definition of academic freedom, that is great for academics at that university. If an EA offers less protection than French’s model code, then that model code will lift the standard of academic freedom protections. That will be a terrific boost for academic freedom across the country because, as experts who have trawled through EAs of Australian universities told Inquirer this week, none of the EAs offer more protection than French’s model code.

When Walker’s review is completed late next month, we will discover which vice-chancellors have dragged the chain, more cowardly corporatist controllers than defenders of robust intellectual excellence.

Their incalcitrant approach to academic freedom should firm up the minister’s resolve to stop the rot. Tehan’s next move might be to legislate that every university implement the full French model code as a requirement of university registration. Even if not legislated, the minister has a backdoor way to secure the same outcome. Under section 136 of Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act, Tehan can direct the university regulator to use the model code when enforcing the educational standards to Australian universities. With oversight from Senate Estimates, this could well transform TESQA, known as a wet-lettuce regulator, into a genuine guardian of university excellence acting in the best interest of academics, students, taxpayers and the country.

In other words, with the model code in place, either by law or ministerial directive, what happened to Ridd can never happen again. That, of course, will not help the unassuming, but determined, professor. His final appeal for justice, and common sense, rests with the High Court next year, when at least one new judge, maybe two, will be on the bench. No wonder we will be watching closely.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/inquirer/in-the-case-of-peter-ridd-well-soon-learn-whether-academic-freedom-matters/news-story/e9989ee75d014de015f7551ad8ed4e66


Sunday, November 1, 2020

Australia’s gas plan will push the Reef to extinction


<i>A brainless Greenpeace emission below. Give them their assumptions and they would be right.  But all their assumptions are at best dubious.  

For instance, bleaching is mostly caused by sea-level fluctuations: Low level episodes in particular. They make no effort to look at that, They just regurgitate conventional assumptions

And coral is very good at regrowing so bleaching from whatever cause is never permanent.  Even Ove Hoegh Guldberg noted that rapid regrowth</i>


After three mass bleaching events in the last five years, the Great Barrier Reef is not as great as it once was. Now, as Australia attempts to rebuild from the economic fallout of COVID-19, a new threat has emerged which could threaten the world’s largest living organism even further.

Scientists have made it clear that the blame for warmer and more acidic oceans lies on coal, the number one driver of climate change. But now that the Australian Federal government is pushing for a so-called “gas-led recovery” from the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of gas in the Reef’s demise can no longer go unscrutinised.

Rather than heeding the best advice of scientists and switching Australia from polluting coal and gas to clean energy sources like wind and solar, the Australian Federal Government is instead laying the groundwork to replace one destructive fossil fuel with another. If the government’s gas dreams become reality, the implications for the Reef could be cataclysmic.

In its 2019 Production Gap Report, the UN warned that in order to keep global heating at 1.5 degrees, gas production must decline by 20 percent by 2030.

“The continued rapid expansion of gas supplies and systems risks locking in a much higher gas trajectory than is consistent with a 1.5 degree Celsius or 2 degree Celsius future,” the report reads.

“These declines mean that most of the world’s proven fossil-fuel reserves must be left unburned.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on the impact of 1.5C of global warming found that coral reefs would likely decline between 70% and 90% if the temperature increased to that level. If global warming reaches 2C, more than 99% of coral reefs could be wiped out.

Climate change expert and researcher at the Australian National University, Professor Will Steffen, was unequivocal that gas has already damaged the Reef and expanding the industry would only make that damage worse.

“There is no doubt that climate change is the primary driver of the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef,” Professor Steffen said.

“Climate change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels like gas, so there is a direct link between the greenhouse gas emissions from Australia’s gas industry, whether the gas is burned in Australia or elsewhere in the world, and the degradation and destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.”

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2257705-australias-gas-plan-will-push-the-reef-to-extinction/



Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Scientists all at sea with alarmist barrier reef warning



<i>Fancy theories preferred to the real world</i>

A new scientific paper, received with great fanfare among inter­national media and Australia’s public broadcaster, the ABC, claims half the corals of the Great Barrier Reef are dead.

The paper is by academics at James Cook University’s ARC Centre for Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. It is a scary headline. But is it true?

This finding is not based on any tried and proven method. Rather, the researchers from James Cook University have come up with a new method of statistical analysis based on a complicated “proxy” to estimate “colony size”.

The study itself was undertaken in 2016 and 2017, just after a coral bleaching event at cyclone-damaged reefs. If they had used traditional methods and longer time frames, it would likely be found that there is actually nothing wrong with the Great Barrier Reef.

Great Barrier Reef photographer Julia Summerling wrote recently about how a section known as North Direction Island, saying that the island’s corals were “savaged beyond recognition” due to Cyclone Ita in 2014, cyclone Nathan in 2015, and a coral bleaching event in the summer of 2016. So it was probably not the most representative time to be sampling. But the headlines are based on proxy measures from just a few reefs at that time.

She now says those areas have since recovered. “What I saw — and photographed — I could hardly believe. Young dinner-plate-sized corals were crammed into every available space on the limestone plateau as far as I could see, bristling with iconic fish life, from maori wrasse and coral trout to bumphead parrotfish and sweetlips. I swam a long way on the dive, checking to see how far the coral shelf stretched. The further I swam, the denser the coral fields became.”

For a new Institute of Public Affairs film, in January this year I visited the Ribbon reefs with Emmy award-winning photographer Clint Hempshall to follow the edge of Australia’s continental shelf to find and film coral bleaching. It was meant to be one of the worst-affected regions — 60 per cent dead from bleaching, which the same scientists say is caused by climate change. But we could not find any significant bleaching. We mostly found jewelled curtains of coral, appearing to cascade down underwater cliff faces. So colourful, so beautiful, all in crystal clear and warm waters.

The problem for Professor Terry Hughes, who co-authored the research, is that his study was undertaken in 2016 and 2017 then extrapolated out to cover other years. All of the research and subsequent media attention points to a narrative that the Great Barrier Reef is at risk of imminent collapse from climate change.

It was for questioning this claim, and the quality of science behind it, that Dr Peter Ridd was eventually sacked from James Cook University. Part of those claims by Ridd were that a lot of the science coming out of JCU’s ARC Centre for Excellent in Coral Reef Studies “is not properly checked, tested or replicated, and that is a great shame because we really need to be able to trust our scientific institutions, and the fact is I do not think we can anymore.”

Neither James Cook University, nor Hughes, have ever rebutted Ridd’s criticisms of the research.

This is what objective observers need to put into context when examining Hughes’s most recent claims. Ridd also said: “I think that most of the scientists who are pushing out this stuff, I think that they genuinely believe that there are problems with the reef, I just don’t think they are very objective about the science they do. I think they’re emotionally attached to their subject and you can’t blame them the reef is a beautiful thing.”

One quick glance at Hughes’s Twitter account and you will find he is critical of the Morrison government’s gas-led recovery, cheerleading for a royal commission into the Murdoch media and constantly criticises the Adani Coal mine.

The new paper by James Cook University scientists claims both the incidence of coral bleaching and cyclones is increasing, but there is no evidence to support ­either contention. The available data from 1971 to 2017 indicated there has actually been a decrease in both the number and severity of cyclones in the Australian region.

Coral-bleaching events tend to be cyclical and coincide with periods of exceptionally low sea levels. As discussed in a new book, Climate Change: The Facts 2020, there were dramatic falls in sea levels across the western Pacific Ocean in 2016. These were associated with an El Nino event.

Until recently, coral calcification rates were calculated based on coring of the large Porites corals. There are well-established techniques for coring the Porites corals and then measuring growth rates. So why do Hughes and his colleagues stray from these tried and tested methods?

Since 2005, the Australian Institute of Marine Science has stopped using this technique to measure how well corals are growing at the Great Barrier Reef. The few studies still using the old technique suggest that, as would be expected, <font color="#ff0000"> as water temperatures have increased marginally, coral growth rates have also increased.</font>

But rather than admit this, key Great Barrier Reef research institutions have moved from such ­direct measures to new and complicated “proxies”. They thus have more flexibility in what they find because the measurement is no longer one that represents coral growth rates or coral cover.

As proxy votes are something delegated, this gives the researchers at JCU the potential to generate what might be considered policy-based evidence. And yet without question, the media reporting of the most recent research is that “there is no time to lose, we must sharply decrease greenhouse gas emissions”.

Far too frequently, climate science has demonstrated noble cause corruption — where the ends justify the means. We will only know exact coral calcification rates, and changing trends in coral cover, when our once esteemed research institutions return to more traditional methods of measuring such important indicators of coral health and growth.

We need a return to real science that is based on real observations and real measurements and then we may find written in journals what we see in the real world when we jump off boats and go under the sea.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/inquirer/scientists-all-at-sea-with-alarmist-barrier-reef-warning/news-story/3b910197797f59e3761d1c9e55ef6155


Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Great Barrier Reef has lost half its corals


The heading above -- from a Warmist outfit -- is most implausible. If it were true,it would have been widely noted by now but it appears to be the first such claim.  And the journal article they rely on contradicts it:  

"The relative abundances of large colonies remained relatively stable"

And the reference to"greenhouse gases" is also not in the original report.  

There has undoubtedly been some loss of coral cover in some places in recent years but the cause is conjectural.  Many things affect coral abundance, not the least of wich is heavy weather in the form of cyclones etc.  

One of the largest declines happened during a fall in the sea level in the general area.  And that exposed corals to unusual dessicatory and other damage

And, finally, even research by doomsayer Hoegh-Guldberg has revealed that bounce-back of damaged coral is very good.  So the mere fears in the article below are unpersuasive

Journal abstract included below



A new study of the Great Barrier Reef shows populations of its small, medium and large corals have all declined in the past three decades.

Lead author Dr Andy Dietzel, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoralCoE), says while there are numerous studies over centuries on the changes in the structure of populations of humans—or, in the natural world, trees—there still isn’t the equivalent information on the changes in coral populations.

“We measured changes in colony sizes because population studies are important for understanding demography and the corals’ capacity to breed,” Dr Dietzel said.

He and his co-authors assessed coral communities and their colony size along the length of the Great Barrier Reef between 1995 and 2017. Their results show a depletion of coral populations.

“We found the number of small, medium and large corals on the Great Barrier Reef has declined by more than 50 percent since the 1990s,” said co-author Professor Terry Hughes, also from CoralCoE.

“The decline occurred in both shallow and deeper water, and across virtually all species—but especially in branching and table-shaped corals. These were the worst affected by record-breaking temperatures that triggered mass bleaching in 2016 and 2017,” Prof Hughes said.

The branching and table-shaped corals provide the structures important for reef inhabitants such as fish. The loss of these corals means a loss of habitat, which in turn diminishes fish abundance and the productivity of coral reef fisheries.

Dr Dietzel says one of the major implications of coral size is its effect on survival and breeding.

“A vibrant coral population has millions of small, baby corals, as well as many large ones— the big mamas who produce most of the larvae,” he said.

“Our results show the ability of the Great Barrier Reef to recover—its resilience—is compromised compared to the past, because there are fewer babies, and fewer large breeding adults.”

The authors of the study say better data on the demographic trends of corals is urgently needed.

“If we want to understand how coral populations are changing and whether or not they can recover between disturbances, we need more detailed demographic data: on recruitment, on reproduction and on colony size structure,” Dr Dietzel said.

“We used to think the Great Barrier Reef is protected by its sheer size—but our results show that even the world’s largest and relatively well-protected reef system is increasingly compromised and in decline,” Prof Hughes said.

Climate change is driving an increase in the frequency of reef disturbances such as marine heatwaves. The study records steeper deteriorations of coral colonies in the Northern and Central Great Barrier Reef after the mass coral bleaching events in 2016 and 2017. And the southern part of the reef was also exposed to record-breaking temperatures in early 2020.

“There is no time to lose—we must sharply decrease greenhouse gas emissions ASAP,” the authors conclude.

https://www.coralcoe.org.au/media-releases/the-great-barrier-reef-has-lost-half-its-corals



Long-term shifts in the colony size structure of coral populations along the Great Barrier Reef

Andreas Dietzel et al.&

Abstract

The age or size structure of a population has a marked influence on its demography and reproductive capacity. While declines in coral cover are well documented, concomitant shifts in the size-frequency distribution of coral colonies are rarely measured at large spatial scales. Here, we document major shifts in the colony size structure of coral populations along the 2300 km length of the Great Barrier Reef relative to historical baselines (1995/1996). Coral colony abundances on reef crests and slopes have declined sharply across all colony size classes and in all coral taxa compared to historical baselines. Declines were particularly pronounced in the northern and central regions of the Great Barrier Reef, following mass coral bleaching in 2016 and 2017. The relative abundances of large colonies remained relatively stable, but this apparent stability masks steep declines in absolute abundance. The potential for recovery of older fecund corals is uncertain given the increasing frequency and intensity of disturbance events. The systematic decline in smaller colonies across regions, habitats and taxa, suggests that a decline in recruitment has further eroded the recovery potential and resilience of coral populations. 



https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2020.1432

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Reports of Reef’s demise greatly exaggerated

 

If we are to believe the Queensland Labor Government, sugarcane farmers are evil and are destroying the Reef in their pursuit of greater profits with their use of fertilisers.

To counter this, new regulations are going to be introduced.

These will have the handy effect of allowing the Government to trumpet its environmental credentials while at the same time pandering to the Greens, the latter being an article of faith held dear by Labor governments.

Given this, it was intriguing to hear the head of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Paul Hardisty, concede under questioning before an ongoing Senate inquiry that only 3 per cent of the Reef, the inshore reef, was affected by farm pesticides and that even that 3 per cent was at “low to negligible risk”.

This in effect means that 97 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef, which lies 50km to 100km off the coast, is completely unaffected.

It is also worth noting that while scientists regularly shriek warnings that the Reef is dying and in so doing damage the tourism industry, no one has bothered to measure coral growth or the lack of it for the past 15 years.

Marine scientist Peter Ridd, who questioned the validity of claims made regarding the imminent death of the Reef by his peers, was sacked by James Cook University for his impertinence.

James Cook has since spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of university funds pursuing him through the courts.

AgForce reef taskforce chairman Alex Stubbs says cane farmers have been persecuted by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science over the issue of water quality and the health of the Reef.

The proposed legislation, he said, had been cooked up by bureaucrats, was fundamentally flawed and would do untold damage to the sugar cane industry. Guess which political party cane farmers will be putting at the bottom of their ballot papers at the October 31 state election.

If sugarcane farmers are the bad guys, then coal miners are the devil incarnate which is why the State Government keeps stalling approval of a planned expansion of the New Acland mine near Oakey.

There is also the small matter of pandering to – you guessed it – the Greens.

Coal is bad, we are told. Coal kills. It causes climate change, bushfires and if it continues to be mined, will lead to the extinction of civilisation.

The world, we are lectured, is abandoning coal and it’s pointless for Australia to keep mining it because nobody wants the stuff.

Companies that do business with coalminers are threatened with consumer boycotts, and cowardly executives acquiesce in the face of the baying of the mob and divorce themselves from coal.

Driven by fear, not reason, they abandon their responsibilities to their shareholders in their desperate efforts to appear to be ”woke.”

The Chinese, who don’t care in the least about being woke, must be more than a little bemused by all this as they continue to build and approve coal-fired power stations at a record rate.

Germany recently commissioned a new coal-fired power plant, Japan has plans to build more than 20, India is increasing its coal-fired electricity generation by more than 20 per cent, while Indonesia, Mozambique, Malawi, Bangladesh, Pakistan, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Philippines, Vietnam and Serbia are all building coal-fired power plants.

The Age of Reason may be dead, but on the evidence it appears that coal is not.

The Reef also stubbornly refuses to fulfil the prophesies of its imminent demise, even when it is forecast by such towering intellectuals as Leonardo Di Caprio, who has never seen the Reef but pronounced it to be near death in 2016, as did then US president Barack Obama when he treated Australians to his ignorance in 2014.

This brings us to politicians. Is it true or false that a person like, let’s say Victorian Premier Andrews, would lie after swearing on the Bible to tell nothing but the truth?

Have a guess.

<a href="https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/opinion/opinion-reports-of-reefs-demise-greatly-exaggerated/news-story/d3064c2d2ddf06e063afec8e22219b84">SOURCE</a>


Sunday, September 20, 2020

Much of Queensland's legislation against farmers was 'completely unnecessary'


Marine scientist and physicist Professor Peter Ridd says data showing pesticides bear a a negligible impact on the Great Barrier Reef means much of the Queensland government’s new legislation against farmers were “completely unnecessary”.

Professor Ridd said it was recently revealed by the director of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, that only 3 per cent of the whole Great Barrier Reef, the ‘inshore reefs’, was affected by farm pesticides.

He said it was revealed even for the affected 3 per cent, pesticides were a low to negligible risk.

“It’s only 3 per cent of the whole Great Barrier Reef, and even when you look at the data on that ... even on that 3 per cent, pesticides are a low to negligible risk," Professor Ridd told Sky News host Chris Kenny.

“(Which) basically means a lot of this new legislation the Queensland government is bringing on against farmers is completely unnecessary.”

<a href="https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/much-of-queensland-s-legislation-against-farmers-was-completely-unnecessary/ar-BB198fCx">SOURCE</a>



Thursday, September 17, 2020

Scientific cancel culture exposed



An inquiry into Great Barrier Reef farming yields remarkable confessions as institutions are challenged by evidence.

By PETER RIDD

The Senate committee inquiry into the regulation of farm practices impacting water quality on the Great Barrier Reef has yielded some remarkable confessions by science institutions about the state of the reef. It has been the first time many of the scientists have been asked difficult questions and publicly challenged by hard evidence. They have been forced out of their bubble.

It was revealed by Paul Hardisty, boss of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, that only 3 per cent of the reef, the “inshore reefs”, is affected by farm pesticides and sediment. He also stated that pesticides, are a “low to negligible risk”, even for that 3 per cent.

The other 97 per cent, the true offshore Great Barrier Reef, mostly 50km to 100km from the coast, is effectively totally unharmed by pesticides and sediment.

This has been evident in the data for decades but it is nice to see an honest appraisal of the situation.

Why has this fact not been brought to the public’s attention in major documents such as the GBR Outlook Report produced by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority? Why has everybody been deceived about the true extent of the problem?

AIMS was also forthcoming on other important points. Records of coral growth rates show no impact from agriculture. Large corals live centuries, and have annual growth rings like trees. They record their own rate of growth. If farming, which started about 100 years ago on the reef coast, was damaging it, there should be a slowing of the growth rate. The records show no slowing when agriculture started a century ago, or when large-scale use of fertiliser and pesticides began in the 1950s.

I have written previously that AIMS has been negligent in not updating the GBR-average coral growth data for the past 15 years. We have the scandalous situation that there is data going back centuries – but nothing since 2005. AIMS claimed coral growth rates collapsed between 1990 and 2005, due to climate change; however, there is considerable doubt about this result because AIMS changed the methodology for the data between 1990 and 2005. At the Senate inquiry, under some duress, AIMS agreed it would be a good idea to update this data if the government will fund the project.

Updating the coral growth rate data will be a major step forward. It will prove or disprove the doubtful decline between 1990 and 2005. It will also give the complete record of how the GBR has fared in the past 15 years, a period when scientists have become more strident in their claims that it is on its last legs.

Hardisty, to his credit, has recently implemented red-blue teams within his organisation to help with quality assurance of the work that AIMS produces. A red team is a group of scientists that takes a deliberately antagonist approach to check, test and replicate scientific evidence. A genuine red team is a far more rigorous quality assurance approach than the present system used in science – peer review – which is often little more than a quick read of the work by the scientist’s mates. What AIMS has done internally is similar to what I have been proposing – an Office of Science Quality Assurance that would check, test, and replicate scientific evidence used for public policy.

Unfortunately, Hardisty’s commitment to quality in science was not reflected by many other important witnesses at the Senate inquiry. Many are in denial and resorted to shooting the messengers. An extract from a letter signed by Professor Ian Chubb, a former Australian chief scientist, was read out by Senator Kim Carr.

Disputing the conventional wisdom on the reef was likened to denying that tobacco causes cancer, or that lead in petrol is a health risk. Worse still, the reason sceptics do this, apparently, is “usually money”. Scientists such as Dr Piers Larcombe, the pre-eminent expert on the movement of sediment on the reef, with decades of experience, is thus written off as a corrupt charlatan.

It is scientific “cancel culture”. It is easier than confronting Larcombe’s evidence that farming has very limited impact on the GBR.

It is customary to be very cynical of our politicians, but it was senators Roberts, Rennick, Canavan and McDonald who forced some truth from our generally untrustworthy science institutions. Only our politicians can save us from them.

The evidence about the reef will not be buried forever. All the data indicates agriculture is having a negligible impact on the reef, and recent draconian Queensland legislation against farmers is unwarranted. And this issue will be influential come the Queensland state election on October 31.

<a href="https://www.theaustralian.com.au/commentary/senate-inquiry-is-bringing-evidence-about-state-of-great-barrier-reef-to-the-surface/news-story/5e12533a9593e7fd93579cd9b68ee0aa">SOURCE</a>