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Great Barrier Reef, RIP

28 Jul 2021 | News Roundup

As in rip-roaring. Marine scientist and academic freedom champion Peter Ridd reports: “The annual data on coral cover for the Great Barrier Reef, produced by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, was released on Monday showing the amount of coral on the reef is at record high levels.” Nevertheless the Guardian is put out that the World Heritage Committee would not put the GBR on its “in danger” list “after a global lobbying effort from Australia”. Because not only does climate change only ever cause bad things, but all bad things prove climate change is a crisis, even when they’re not happening.

The Guardian piece, by a climate scientist with a diploma in “Newspaper Journalism”, makes absolutely no mention of this fact. Instead it whines on about how “Environment groups said the decision was a victory for cynical lobbying” and Australia – a major producer and exporter of coal and gas – initially won support from oil-rich Saudi Arabia and Bahrain… to delay any decision on the danger listing until at least 2023.” And it said UNESCO was right and Australia was “now on probation” and has to send a progress report “by February 2022 – earlier than a December 2022 deadline it had asked for.” But it had nothing to say about what the contents of that report might be.

Since we are opposed to using terms like “ever” or “in history” to refer to things that only go back a few decades, we want to point out that an earlier story in The Australian had specified that the Australian Institute of Marine Science, which did the assessment and found “minimal impact” from bleaching last year, “has been monitoring the condition of the reef since 1985” which is the blink of an eye geologically. What the GBR looked like in 1485 we do not know, or during the Roman Warm Period. (And by the way Paul Homewood just unearthed a 2012 study showing that the RWP wasn’t just warmer than today but very widespread, reaching at least to Florida.) Although we’re pretty sure those temperatures, higher than today’s, didn’t wipe it out. And of course since the claim is that climate was all calm and temperate and peachy until humans trashed the planet starting 50 years ago, or 100, or both, the fact that the last 35 years don’t show the reef crumbling into blanched dust is highly significant.

P.S. If you’re wondering who the oil-funded deniers at the AIMS might be, the story quotes its chief executive that climate change is a major threat to the reef and thus “There is some encouraging news in this report and another good year would continue the ­recovery process, but we also have to accept the increasing risk of marine heatwaves that can lead to coral bleaching and the need for the world to reduce carbon emissions”. So they actually believe in climate change. But they also believe their own eyes. Which is surprisingly rare in this discussion.

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