Reports of Death Somewhat Premature
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is not being killed off because of “global warming” or any other allegedly man-made non-problem, the people who know the area best have confirmed. According to local newspaper The Courier-Mail [paywalled]
Teams of divers in a joint two-week expedition sponsored by Mike Ball Dive and Spirit of Freedom surveyed 28 sites on 24 outer shelf reefs along a 300km section of the hardest-hit part of the reef from Bathurst Head to Raine Island. Spirit of Freedom owner Chris Eade said reports of 93 per cent bleaching on the 2300km long Great Barrier Reef had made global headlines and damaged the reputation of the $5 billion reef tourism industry.
“Scientists had written off that entire northern section as a complete white-out,’’ Mr Eade said. “We expected the worst. But it is tremendous condition, most of it is pristine, the rest is in full recovery. It shows the resilience of the reef.’’
Mike Ball Dive Expeditions operations manager Craig Stephen, who conducted a similar survey on the remote reefs 20 years ago, said there had been almost no change in two decades despite the latest coral bleaching event. “It wasn’t until we got underwater that we could get a true picture of what percentage of reef was bleached,’’ Mr Stephen said. “The discrepancy is phenomenal. It is so wrong. Everywhere we have been we have found healthy reefs. There has been a great disservice to the Great Barrier Reef and tourism and it has not been good for our industry.”
All right, so it’s local dive operators saying this stuff and, of course, they have a vested interested in keeping the tourist industry alive. But if we’re talking vested interests, what about all the marine biologists and environmental activists whose funding is dependent on promoting catastrophism and junk-scientific environmental scares like “ocean acidification”?
According to one scaremongering report earlier this year only 7 percent of the reef remains undamaged by “coral bleaching” – one of the dire consequences, we’re repeatedly informed by experts, of global warming.
However, this was based on a survey by a local environmental activist, Professor Terry Hughes whose National Coral Bleaching Task Force is naturally somewhat dependent on proving there is a major problem. As Jo Nova reports, its findings were considered so suspect that the chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Russell Reichelt refused to endorse them in a planned joint statement. This is how Graham Lloyd reported it in the Australian [paywalled]
Dr Reichelt said maps accompanying the research had been misleading, exaggerating the impact. “I don’t know whether it was a deliberate sleight of hand or lack of geographic knowledge but it certainly suits the purpose of the people who sent it out,” he said. “This is a frightening enough story with the facts, you don’t need to dress them up. We don’t want to be seen as saying there is no problem out there but we do want people to understand there is a lot of the reef that is unscathed.”
Dr Reichelt said there had been widespread misinterpretation of how much of the reef had died. “We’ve seen headlines stating that 93 per cent of the reef is practically dead,” he said.
The problem is that “Great Barrier Reef doing just fine” stories don’t grab headlines in quite the way “Great Barrier Reef is doomed and it’s all our fault” stories do. It is, after all, one of the Seven Great Natural Wonders of the World – and therefore quite a big deal. This is why, along with polar bears and melting ice caps, it is so often seized on by climate campaigners to promote their scare narrative.
My advice is that if you ever find yourself anywhere near Cairns in Far North Queensland and you’re wondering whether or not to fork out for your Great Barrier Reef dive experience is definitely, definitely to do it.
The journey to the reef takes a couple of hours and it’s such a mass market experience you do feel a bit like herded cattle. Also, the sea is so rough that I’d say about 50 per cent of everyone who goes ends up vomiting furiously. But when you get there, it’s just great. Coral and other marine life of a size and variety you’re unlikely to see anywhere else.