Tag Archives: Coral reefs

Do we seriously want to save the Great Barrier Reef?

Back on 17 March, 2017 Joshua Robertson’s article in the Guardian Stopping global warming is only way to save Great Barrier Reef, scientists warn reported four things happening simultaneously. First, a paper by 46 scientists published in Nature showed that bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef in 1998, 2002 and 2016 was determined by ocean surface temperature; water quality had nothing to do with it.

Secondly, Terry Hughes, the lead author of the paper was embarking on aerial surveys to chart the effects of the latest 2017 bleaching event, the first in consecutive years, and the first in a non-El Niño year.

Third, Queensland government officials were in Paris meeting with UNESCO officials to appeal for more time to make good on conservation efforts to ward off an “in-danger” listing for the reef. This conservation plan does not mention global warming, concentrating on such things as water quality.

Fourth, Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk went to India to lobby Adani to proceed with its giant coal mine in the Galilee Basin. Continue reading Do we seriously want to save the Great Barrier Reef?

Climate clippings 197

1. Global plan to save 10 per cent of coral reefs

A world-wide plane is being hatched a global plan says only 10 pc of coral reefs to save 10 per cent of coral reefs. The stark fact is that:

    Scientists estimate 90 per cent of the world’s coral reefs will disappear in the next 35 years due to coral bleaching induced by global warming, pollution and over-development.

The 50 Reefs initiative, recently launched at the World Ocean Summit in Bali, in a donor funded initiative to identify the 10% of reefs most likely to survive past 2050. Effectively it’s a triage operation. Continue reading Climate clippings 197

Saving the Great Barrier Reef

Our government seems bent on saving the tourist industry by airbrushing the Great Barrier Reef out of UN reports. The report “World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate”, published jointly by UNESCO, the United Nations Environment Program and the Union of Concerned Scientists, initially had a key chapter on the Great Barrier Reef, as well as small sections on Kakadu and the Tasmanian forests.

The chapter was removed at the request of the Australian government. They were worried the tourists may not come. Continue reading Saving the Great Barrier Reef

Coral reef resilience

reef_200Recently we took a look at the most recent coral bleaching event in Great Barrier Reef will never be the same. John D subsequently sent me a link to an article Obituaries for coral reefs may be premature, study finds by John Pandolfi, Professor, School of Biological Sciences, at The University of Queensland.

So I thought we should take a closer look. Continue reading Coral reef resilience

Great Barrier Reef will never be the same

Core samples of the Great Barrier Reef going back 400 years show no bleaching before 1998. There was another event in 2002. In those events less than 20% of reefs were bleached in the affected zones. This year 95 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef’s northern reefs were rated as severely bleached. Only 4 out of 520 reefs surveyed, less than one per cent, were found to be unaffected by bleaching.

The bleaching is destroying the northern sector of the Reef as we watch. Continue reading Great Barrier Reef will never be the same

Climate clippings 167

1. Hybrid wind and solar farms could deliver significant cost savings

    A total of at least 1GW of large-scale solar could be added to existing Australian wind farms, boosting renewable energy development, generation, and and smoothing its delivery to the grid, according to a new report from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency investigation the benefits of solar and wind “co-location.”

Continue reading Climate clippings 167

Climate clippings 166

1. Temperatures could be rising faster than we thought

Using a new model, researchers from the University of Queensland and Griffith University, predict the global average temperature could rise by 1.5°C as early as 2020. The model is based on forecasts of population and economic growth combined with rising per capita energy consumption. Continue reading Climate clippings 166

Climate clippings 165

1. Cyclone Winston the second strongest to make landfall

Cyclone Winston, which hit Fiji with winds of almost 300 kph, was the second strongest to make landfall, the strongest being Taiphoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in 2013.

Jeff Masters lists the 13 strongest cyclones by windspeed to make landfall using 1-minute averaging: Continue reading Climate clippings 165

Climate clippings 161

1. Lakes warming faster than atmosphere

Courtesy of John D, from Gizmag, an item that has implications for algal blooms, health of species, food and methane emissions.

    Specifically, the results show that the average temperature in the lakes has been rising by 0.61 degrees Fahrenheit every 10 years. While that might not seem too significant, it’s a higher rate of warming than witnessed in either the atmosphere or the ocean, and the long-term effects could be pronounced… Continue reading Climate clippings 161

Climate clippings 145

1. Is it climate change?

When the first named cyclone in July appeared off the Queensland coast some asked whether this was caused by climate change. My response would be that a single event is weather. Climate is about changes in the patterns of weather over time.

Carbon Brief has a post suggesting that climate change attribution studies are asking the wrong questions. Continue reading Climate clippings 145

What do scientists think about the Great Barrier Reef?

That’s the question Leigh Sales should have been asking rather than playing prompt to Julie Bishop’s spin on the 7.30 Report.

I’ve been citing a 2011 study by K. Frieler et al which found that:

preserving more than 10 per cent of coral reefs worldwide would require limiting warming to below +1.5°C (atmosphere–ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) range: 1.3–1.8°C) relative to pre-industrial levels.

What President Obama and the Chinese are doing is not nearly enough to save the Great Barrier Reef, and there’s a fair chance that Obama knows it.

The ABC news bulletins have simply been repeating the Government lines without asking Opposition spokespeople, let alone scientists. The Guardian did better:

Bishop said on Friday the government did not believe the reef was in danger – a comment that contradicts the scientific consensus that it is.

The 2014 outlook report from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said: “Climate change remains the most serious threat to the Great Barrier Reef. It is already affecting the reef and is likely to have far-reaching consequences in the decades to come.”

Radio National’s PM program in a segment not picked up by their news outlets interviewed Dr Jon Brodie from James Cook University who was the lead author of a 2008 scientific report for the Queensland Government on water quality issues affecting the Great Barrier Reef, and last year completed a Scientific Consensus Statement based on the views of more than 50 scientists and policy experts. He cites the Australian Government’s own outlook report 2014 linked above which:

says very clearly that the reef is in poor condition and continuing to deteriorate, and that major actions are needed to stop that deterioration.

Bishop says that the people who look after the reef are following the world’s best practice. Brodie says that’s irrelevant because what they are doing is ineffective:

The reef’s lost half its coral, it’s lost most of its dugong, seagrass is in poor condition. Most of the major indicators of the reef are in a serious state and serious state of decline. And hence, whatever management we are doing now, whatever standard it is, it’s not enough.

The Queensland and Federal governments have come out with a draft Reef 2050 Sustainability Plan to address the reef’s decline but Brodie describes it as “very weak”.

The bottom line?

the Government’s own report on the reef, very clearly says that climate change is a major issue for the reef. And if we don’t do anything about it, somebody doesn’t do something about it, then there’s not really a lot of hope to have the reef restored to its, you know, good value.


The SMH asked several scientists including Brodie, Dr Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Director of the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland and Dr Charlie Veron, a former chief scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg was involved in the Frieler research cited above and stressed the dangers of ocean acidification. In 2012 he wrote an article for The Conversation pointing out the inappropriateness of the 2°C guardrail for preserving coral reefs.

Veron was blunt:

“In the long term, that is the whole of this century, we are going to have the Great Barrier Reef slaughtered,” Dr Veron, a world authority who has scientifically named about one-quarter of all known corals, said.

“There’s no doubt about that at all, if carbon-dioxide emissions keep on tracking as they are.”

Currently UNESCO is undertaking a review of the Great Barrier Reef’s World Heritage status, due for completion by mid-2015.

Both Brodie and Veron see the Queensland and Australian governments in a frenzy to head off an ‘endangered’ listing. It was pointed out on the ABC Insiders program that such a listing would inhibit the financing of planned developments.

Obama is right to worry what his granddaughters will see if they come to visit. It’s possible there will still be something worth crossing the Pacific for. Chances are, however, that his great granddaughters will stay at home.

It’s all very simple really – Government spin versus very real concern by scientists, a threat to UNESCO World Heritage listing with flow-on effects on development, and international goals for a 2°C guardrail which will see the reef destroyed.