Intro by Steve Cook
It is often contended that the planet’s coral reef ecosystems are particularly sensitive to and damaged by climate change. They are often pointed to as the ‘canary in the coal mine’ in the effort to convince us that we have wrecked our planet.
Of course, the use of the term “climate change” is often used misleadingly in so far as there is natural climate change, the warming and cooling cycles of the Earth. These cycles occur and will continue to occur whether human beings happen to be present or not. It is therefore deliberately misleading on the part of the climate hysteria brigade to try to insinuate that all warming phases and trends are the “fault” of we humans emerging from the Stone Age and building ourselves a rather impressive civilisation.
We do, of course, need some sort of vigilant “quality control” allied to conscientious husbandry of the planet, whereby we can be alerted when real environmental damage due to our activity occurs (or, better, is predicted before it becomes an emergency) and rational steps taken to correct the errors causing the problem.
But what we don’t need is outright hysteria allied to sloppy and irresponsible “science”, false reports and propaganda designed to instill in us fear and dismay, belittle humanity’s considerable accomplishments and discouraging or inhibiting a confident and optimistic creation of the future.
An example of the aforesaid sloppiness is the canary in the coal mine of the Great Barrier Reef and so forth trotted out as “evidence” of impending doom.
Because the canary isn’t dead, isn’t dying and in fact appears to be quite healthy.
We quote here the Executive Summary of the report “CORAL IN A WARMING WORLD – CAUSES FOR OPTIMISM’ by Peter Ridd, which can be found on the website of the UK-based Global Warming Policy Foundation, here.
We highly recommend that you read the whole report if you wish to raise your understanding of what is going on ad indeed the many other excellent report to be found on the Foundation’s website.
• The most reliable long-term record of coral cover of a large area is from the Great Barrier Reef. Its cover varies greatly from year to year, but in 2022 was at the highest level since records began in 1985, and double the level in 2011.
• Of the 3000 individual reefs of the Great Barrier Reef, none have been lost, and all have excellent coral, although there are large fluctuations in cover from year to year, mostly as a result of cyclones and starfish predation.
• Data for other parts of the world is less reliable, and is only useful for the last two decades.
• Aggregated over the whole world, the data does not support the proposition that there has been a major drop in coral cover. At worst, there might have been a reduction of 7% from 2000–19, but the stated error margin is of similar size to the difference. In addition, natural variability of the data is also around 10% – higher than the difference between 2000 and 2019.
• Data for the East Asia Seas coral bioregion, with 30% of the world’s coral reefs, and containing the particularly diverse ‘Coral Triangle’, show no statistically significant net coral loss since records began.
• Outside Australia, there is a need to improve standardisation and randomisation of data sets.
• The most comprehensive data, by far, on coral bleaching due to high water temperatures comes from the Great Barrier Reef. This indicates that the overall impacts are very minor. Current record coral cover comes despite four supposedly catastrophic bleaching events in the six years prior to 2022.
• Coral usually takes at least 5–10 years to regrow from a major mortality event, so the record high coral levels in 2022 suggests reports of massive mortality events were erroneous. This raises serious questions about integrity in science institutions and in the media.
• Coral bleaching occurs when corals expel the symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) that live inside them, often subsequently replacing them with a different species when they recover. The process makes them highly adaptable to changing temperatures.
• Most corals that bleach do not die.
In conclusion, the future of the world’s reefs is much less discouraging than is often thought, at least from the impacts of climatic temperature variations. It is now clear that many of the institutional claims of massive permanent coral loss have been greatly exaggerated.
It seems probable that a pessimistic groupthink has taken hold of large sections of the coral reef science community, affecting the clarity with which some in that community observe the world’s reefs.
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