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Where to bury a reef

31 Jul 2019 | OP ED Watch

One major difficulty in committing a murder is hiding the body. Especially if you’re climate change and your victim is the Great Barrier Reef. As a correspondent notes, the Internet is full of “Vlogs” (video logs) by people swimming around its vibrant corals and brilliant fish and sharing the experience with the world. See here or here, for examples. Death, where is thy stingray?

The impending death of the Great Barrier reef is a major talking point for certain kinds of climate alarmists. Australian marine physicist Dr. Peter Ridd pushed back against the alarm, got sacked for it, then won a crushing victory in his wrongful dismissal suit against James Cook University. Meanwhile the poor reef has been killed off repeatedly. In 2007 the Ottawa Citizen published its eulogy: “GREAT BARRIER REEF: THE LATEST VICTIM OF CLIMATE CHANGE”. And now it’s the even later late reef.

What to make, then, of the lovely corals in internet vlogs? It often seems that the more passionate the cause, the more abstract the subject, because the real world just won’t live up to the alarmist hype. We have previously discussed those islands and coastal cities that were meant to be washed away by now and are still there. Since the actual islands won’t sink under the waves, Time had to resort to photoshop with its “rising seas” cover. Meanwhile back in the real world coral atolls adjust to local conditions, which is why they survived the dramatic rise in ocean levels at the end of the last glaciation.

Then there are arguments about what it means that record temperatures are being set in some places, including the very real problem of badly sited thermometers and also the fact of nearby cold as well as heat. (For instance, the heat wave in Western Europe coincided with remarkable cold in Eastern Europe, which may be a less trendy place but last we heard was still on the globe and hence ought to be suffering the same global warming as countries a few hundred kilometres away. As for blaming local variations on changes in the jet stream caused by climate change, alas, the theory used to predict the opposite.) But there are certain things that are just very hard to deny.

For instance, we know that glaciers have been retreating since the 19th century. Activists just erected a plaque to Iceland’s “Ok”, the “First Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier.” What the plaque didn’t say was that Ok is known to have been 31 square kilometers in 1901 but just 15 in 1910 and 5 in 1945, before shrinking more slowly to under 1 in 2016 and then vanishing. So either you think man-made global warming started more than 100 years ago, or you admit that a lot of it is natural, because glaciers are big and the evidence that they were not in 1940 where they’d been in 1900, and not in 1900 where they’d been in 1840 is overwhelming. (Funnily enough, it’s also widespread despite the recent claim that only recently have global temperature changes been global.)

As for the supposed victim, just as it would be very hard to kill the reef and hide the evidence, it’s very hard to prosecute someone for murder if the victim insists on walking about looking hale and hearty. Meanwhile the cops are on the trail of a quite different suspect when it comes to real visible harm to Florida coral: old-tyme pollution in the form of rural fertilizer and urban sewage runoff. Which leaves some pretty ugly evidence but mostly lets warming off the hook.

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