Monday, November 03, 2008

Brainless Obama the Warmist wants to bankrupt coal-fired electricity generation

And thus cause blackouts in most of America, apparently

Imagine if John McCain had whispered somewhere that he was willing to bankrupt a major industry? Would this declaration not immediately be front page news? Well, Barack Obama actually flat out told the San Francisco Chronicle (SF Gate) that he was willing to see the coal industry go bankrupt in a January 17, 2008 interview. The result? Nothing. This audio interview has been hidden from the public...until now. Here is the transcript of Obama's statement about bankrupting the coal industry:
Let me sort of describe my overall policy. What I've said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else's out there.

I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted.

That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, biodiesel and other alternative energy approaches. The only thing I've said with respect to coal, I haven't been some coal booster. What I have said is that for us to take coal off the table as a (sic) ideological matter as opposed to saying if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It's just that it will bankrupt them.

Amazing that this statement by Obama about bankrupting the coal industry has been kept under wraps until this time.

UPDATE: NewsBusters' Tom Blumer has found out that the San Francisco Chronicle story published on January 18 based upon this January 17 interview did not include any mention of Obama's willingness to bankrupt the coal industry which you can hear on the audio. You can read the story here when you scroll down to the "In His Own Words" section. Way to cover up for The One, SF Chronicle!

Source (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Hard lesson about solar realities for NOAA / NASA

The real world sunspot data remaining quiet month after month are mocking the curved red predictions of NOAA and about to slide underneath. Time for a rethink I reckon NOAA !! Here is my clearer chart showing the misfit between NOAA / NASA prediction and real-world data.

Regular readers might remember that we started posting articles drawing attention to contrasting predictions for Solar Cycle 24, way back on 16 December 2006. Scroll to the start of my solar threads.

Then in March 2007 I posted David Archibald's pdf article, "The Past and Future of Climate". Well worth another read now, I would like to see another version of David's Fig 12 showing where we are now in the transition from Cycle 23 to Cycle 24.

Solar Cycle 24 Prediction Issued April 2007 from NOAA / NASA. Much data and commentary at

Source (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Global Warming Fantasies Meet Financial Contraction

Learning from Germany?

Whoever is elected president, global warming legislation is going to be passed in Washington next year. Legislation proposed by both John McCain and Barack Obama will require that the cost of energy to become so high that people will avoid using it. The serious question is: why would we do this in the current economic environment? Why would we take away capital that people would otherwise use to invest in companies that produce efficient things when that capital is already being destroyed at an alarming rate?

Other nations that embraced the abject environmental failure known as the Kyoto Protocol and imposed higher energy costs are fleeing from climate change policies as their economies implode. Only the U.S. seems eager to commit economic suicide over global warming.

Kyoto did nothing measureable about climate change. Global carbon dioxide emissions rose by the same amount they were supposed to fall because of it. All it cost was money. Germany`s Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is probably the woman most responsible for the Protocol itself, now calls drastic cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, "ill-advised climate policy". Her foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who last year trotted the globe pronouncing global warming a grave threat to world peace, now says that "this crisis changes priorities" and that "interest in protecting the climate will change because of such a crisis".

A trip around the world (or around the country, or, for that matter, around your city) will demonstrate that economic vitality and environmental protection are highly correlated. The ritzy part of town is neat as a pin, where residents smugly buy (unverifiable) "carbon offsets" to assuage guilt about the four-wheel-drive behemoth, while bathed in compact-fluorescent light. In the poor neighborhoods of the world? Well, they're cooking indoors with wood or dung, they don't have a clue what a "carbon offset" or a compact-fluorescent is, and the power is out.

As economies suffer increasingly from global warming taxes and regulation, nations can descend from first-world energy infrastructure and supply to banana-republic like conditions, even without the current economic contraction.

The first place where this hell is likely to freeze over is going to be in Great Britain this winter. Residential energy costs average $600 per year over where they were a year ago. Britain's National Housing Administration estimates that 5.7 million British households will spend more than 10% of their income on fuel and energy next year. Right now, wholesale power prices in Britain are four times what they are in France. Older coal and nuclear power plants have to be taken out of production for repair and refit. How do energy-intensive industries, such as cement, steel, and brickmaking compete in such an environment? They don't.

Green policies are sure to make this much, much worse. In large part because of European Union environmental directives, a full 37% of the U.K.'s electrical generation capacity will be lost by 2015, most of that from mandatory reduction of coal-fired plants. Imagine what percent of households will be spending 10% or more of their income on energy 2015.

Nor will the shortfall to be taken up by solar energy and windmills. Britain is a pretty cloudy place, it isn't all that big, and windmills produce no power when there is no wind. Last month, Cambridge Econometrics projected that less than 5% of Britain's total energy will come from these so-called "renewables" in 2020.

Before the current financial uncertainty, European governments and the EU environmental bureaucracy thought they could get away with all of this expensive unreality. But, as Angela Merkel and her Foreign Minister now admit, this is beginning to seem "ill advised."

All of this flags a much larger problem. The only way to reduce emissions enough to have a significant effect on our modest warming trend is to make energy so expensive that people can't afford it. But, as the current economic situation shows, when people can't afford it, these policies become "ill advised". Among other reasons, they are not advisable because they take away capital that is necessary for environmental protection.

The solution is obvious. Only when technologies are available that produce lower carbon dioxide emissions at a competitive price, will people and politicians really buy in. This requires investment- by individuals- of real money that is currently being confiscated and tilted at windmills. Expensive energy and a financial contraction can only delay this investment, perhaps forever. The United States and the United Kingdom would do well to pay attention to Germany's newly-found realism about global warming policy.


News Reports for October Indicate Global Cooling

I reproduce below just a tiny part of a very long post on Jennifer Marohasy's site. Note that the reports come from just ONE MONTH

Following are 12 pages of sampling of news reports from the US and around the world for October 2008, via Marc Morano in Washington, providing some anecdotal evidence that global warming has perhaps stalled:

Delayed World Series raises anger after frigid weather - Sportswriter. October 29, 2008.

Excerpt: Al Gore is full of crap. The predictor of global-warming doom and gloom is way off base, at least in late October in frigid eastern Pennsylvania. Consider that when Major League Baseball called off its first makeup date of the suspended Game 5 early yesterday, the weather conditions were far worse than they had been Monday. Rescheduled again for tonight at 8, the forecast is also bad. A cold rain continued all day yesterday with up to 30 centimetres of snow reported."

Cold spring, summer stunts apple production in Washington State - October 27, 2008.

Excerpt: As the apple season wraps up in Whatcom County, some local orchardists are having to cope with lower yields caused by a cold spring and summer. "The quality is there, however, there's going to be a lot (of apples) left hanging on the tree that we can normally pick" because they won't ripen in time, said Dorie Belisle.

Arctic sea ice almost 2 million square kilometers higher than a year ago - Physicist Dr. Lubos Motl.

Excerpt: The total Arctic sea ice area is currently almost 2 million square kilometers higher than one year ago. It is near normal for the end of October.

Brrr. - Obama to global warming demonstrators: `This is probably not the weather to hold up those signs. It's a little chilly today' - October 28, 2008.

Excerpt: Obama paid tribute to thousands of hardy supporters who turned out for a rally in Chester, Pennsylvania despite the bone-chilling rain and driving winds. [...] A little bit of rain never hurt anybody," Obama said, "although I've got to say I saw (Pennsylvania Governor) Ed Rendell back stage and his teeth were chattering. "This is an unbelievable crowd for this kind of weather," he added, gently ribbing some supporters for holding up signs saying "stop global warming." "This is probably not the weather to hold up those signs. I'm not into global warming either but it's a little chilly today."

`Coldest' Day in 51 Years Expected In Orlando; 2 Records Likely Broken.

Excerpt: A cold front moving through Orlando is dropping temperatures to record lows for the end of October, likely breaking several 50-year "coldest day" marks. "If we don't hit 67 degrees, it will be the coldest we've ever been on Oct. 28," Local 6 meteorologist Eric Wilson said. "Sixty-seven degrees is the old, lowest maximum temperatures, meaning the coldest day 51 years ago." The lowest temperature for Orlando on Oct. 28 was 67 degrees in 1957.

Gore's global warming speech at Harvard coincided with near 125-year record breaking low temps! - October 22, 2008.

Excerpt: For tomorrow night, the temperature in Cambridge is forecast to drop below the freezing point to 28 øF which, if true, will beat the record low temperature set in 1883, which means exactly 125 years ago, when it was 29 øF. Not bad! Moreover, the phenomenon present in Cambridge in order to discuss global warming seems to be driving rain and hail, with the probability of rain indicated as 60%. At 1 p.m. local time, they report a cloudy weather with isolated showers. According to website of former Harvard Professor Dr. Lubos Motl


The Leftist "Mother Jones" talks to Pielke senior

He does a pretty good job of talking to that audience

Mother Jones: You've said that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change didn't quite get it.

Roger A. Pielke Sr.: I think the IPCC was basically a very narrowly focused document. In fact it was basically written mostly by atmospheric scientists. And they're focusing on a very narrow issue where the atmospheric increase of CO2 feeds down to affect the climate that has all these effects on resources, and I think that is so narrowly confined as to be of little use to policymakers in terms of what's really going to happen.

MJ: Can you give me an example of some of the things you thought they left out?

RAP: Okay, I'll give you the example of Asia. If you go back 200 years ago, China and India had lots of natural forests. As the population grew, large areas of China and India had been converted to cropland and urban areas. So what happens is instead of having this source of transpiration of water from the forests, you've converted it to areas that have less transpiration of water. And this has been shown with general circulation models. The same kind of models that have been used by the IPCC.

It says that if you change how much energy goes into heating in the atmosphere versus water vapor coming in from transpiration, it affects thunderstorm clouds over the region, which affects the monsoon circulation, which affects the weather patterns, the rainfall over Asia, and since that affects what happens over the North Pacific and downstream, it affects the global climate system. Amazon deforestation is the same thing.

And in the US, we've taken areas in the eastern two-thirds of the US, and we've had huge conversion of landscape. We've taken away the forest that was in the east. We've done model studies there and shown that this has an enormous affect on temperature, on precipitation. Wherever you do a landscape change, it changes the fluxes of energy and moisture into the atmosphere. That changes cloud patterns, changes rainfall patterns, and so forth, and so it affects weather locally, regionally, and then through the global circulation.

MJ: So it's not that you are a "global warming skeptic"; it's that you think that global warming has been hyped at the expense of other problems.

RAP: That's exactly right. I would also add that climate change is much more than global warming. We have altered the climate significantly, say by land-use change, without changing the global average surface temperature, yet it has big impacts. So I definitely think that we humans have altered the climate system. I think we have a strong component that has been warming-for some reason, it has stopped. And I don't understand the reasons why.

MJ: I remember hearing that last year was the warmest year on record, and a few years before that was the warmest year on record. I hadn't heard that global warming has stopped.

RAP: Josh Willis is one of the people I've worked with in the past, and he has a paper that came out recently that showed that at least since mid-2004, the upper oceans have not warmed. The trouble with the surface temperature that you hear about in the news is that it has all kinds of biases in it. It's got a warm bias because of the land-use change that occurs, when they measure these sites, the actual locations have... they're right next to buildings, right next to air conditioners. That data is, I think, extremely poor. The media has picked up on that particular metric, which is not the proper metric.

If you look at the lower atmosphere, the troposphere, the troposphere hasn't warmed up for about 10 years. So the data is conflicting with what the popular perception is. And I think that's the real risk. If that would continue, if these metrics, Arctic ice melting, all these things, don't behave the way people have claimed, then as you've said before, there's a risk that some really good things could be lost, that we should do anyway.

MJ: So I understand your basic policy idea is to look at things more holistically instead of just carbon dioxide emissions.

RAP: Exactly right. And you start from the bottom up, and resource-based focus, so you take California for example, or part of California. What are the biggest environmental risks? Fires, for example. What can we do to reduce the risk of fire? Well, of course when people live in the hills, you can try to get them to cut their trees down that are right close to their houses; you could thin the brush.

MJ: So which environmental problem should we be most worried about, on a global level?

RAP: With respect to human impact on the climate system? I think first we need to identify which of these problems has the largest effect on drought and flood patterns. Because of human input of aerosols, from biomass burning in the tropics, from industrial activity, it's spatially concentrated. And what we found out was when we compared the effect of these aerosols in altering wind circulations versus the effect of the greenhouse gases affecting wind circulations, the aerosol effect was 60 times greater. That number could change, but the bottom line is it's a much greater impact, because the greenhouse gases are more spatially dispersed. And in fact, if one is concerned with CO2 addition, which I think is justifiable, it's actually not global warming that people should focus in on, but the biogeochemical effect of added CO2, because it's a fertilizer. And plants respond differently.

I don't think we know the consequences of what we're doing. But our footprint on the environment is more than just CO2: It's nitrogen deposition, it's the other black carbon, the aerosols, it's land-use change. And so we put all of these things together and say, "How can we come up with a policy that reduces our impact on the environment?" Because we don't know the consequences.

MJ: So what does that mean in terms of energy and climate policy?

RAP: Energy policy and climate policy should be disconnected from each other. There are overlaps between the two, and the trouble is that people are using climate, mainly CO2, to invoke energy policy. I think that's a very bad way to go about it. In terms of energy policy, which I'm not an expert on, you have to consider each energy source in terms of its pros and cons. The way it's being done now, it's just sort of one dimensional-it's just assuming that carbon dioxide is the biggest threat to mankind, and I think that's really an absurd oversimplification of the complexity of the issue.

MJ: What role does personal conservation play in all of this? Does it help at all, or is policy the only way to fix all these problems?

RAP: Well, I think [actions] should be looked at on their own merits. For example, what is the benefit of plastic bags? Because you have to recycle them and so forth, as opposed to bringing your own bags. So each of those issues has to be looked at on their own merit. I know Aspen has a pretty good program that they introduced for climate. In reality, it has cost benefit. If you can tell a consumer "You can save money if you do this, and you're also going to have an environmental benefit," it's a win-win.

But there's an irony. We had a drought in 2002 in Colorado. So they put water rationing in place, and people mostly obeyed that. And so the drought went away. They found out that people didn't start using more water because they learned they could get by with less water for their lawns, so they raised the price. So in other words, the water people were depending on a certain amount of revenue to come in. So all of these issues are multidimensional. I think we should focus on what the benefit is of doing individual actions and community actions. And I think if we do that in a holistic fashion, we're going to come up with better decisions.

MJ: Are there any personal conservation techniques that you think are a waste of time, or any that you think are particularly important?

RAP: Water-use efficiency. If you can educate people that you don't need as much water for your lawn and your trees, you save water for everybody, and you also save money for the consumer. So I think that's an ideal one. It's basically an education issue, and you can do that with electricity as well, in terms of lightbulbs. People can learn that they shouldn't use incandescent light bulbs because they can save money with these other ones. So I think that's the approach-education is the first one to do. In the US, we don't have the littering you saw 30 or 40 years ago. Most people have learned that's not the polite thing to do. And it's not because there are litter laws, it's because people have become more environmentally conscious. So I think education plays a big role with the ones that you're talking about.

MJ: Even if you're not just talking about global warming, there's a point where there's no going back. Do you have any sense of how long we have to get all of this under control?

RAP: The problem is, we don't know if we're pushing ourselves toward or away from some negative impact. That's the problem. We could be making ourselves actually less likely to have some drought pattern, but since we don't know, to me the prudent pattern is to try to minimize our impact. Don't have too much CO2 in the atmosphere, but also limit our nitrogen deposition; try to get our landscape back to as close to the natural state as we possibly can. And if we can't do that because we're growing crops, try to understand the consequences.

MJ: Don't we know that there are negative impacts already? There are more storms. The sea ice is melting. Couldn't we look at those effects and say we do know that there are negative impacts?

RAP: I don't think there are more storms. That's actually in terms of tropical cyclones. There's a lot of controversy in the tropical storm community, and I think that a lot of the claims for increase in tropical cyclone activity are flawed. [It seems like there are more now] because they didn't have any satellites in the past.

In terms of sea ice, if you look at Antarctic sea ice, it actually has been well above average, although in the last couple days it's close to average, but for about a year or longer, it's been well above average, and the Arctic sea ice is not as low as it was last year. So in the global context, the sea ice has been fairly close to average. It doesn't mean it can't happen because we are altering the climate system. But whenever I look at the data, I see a much more complicated picture than what you typically hear about.


The Fingerprint Controversy Part-1

SEPP Science Editorial #10 (11/1/08)

The crucial question is: Is warming (predominantly) due to natural or human causes? How can one tell? The issue is of obvious importance since natural causes cannot be influenced in any way by policies that limit greenhouse (GH) gas emissions, such as CO2. Resolving the question is a difficult scientific task. Natural causes are plausible; the climate has been warming and cooling for billions of years on many different time scales [See, e.g., Singer and Avery 2007]. On the other hand, GH warming is also plausible, since the concentration of GH gases has been increasing due to human activities.

The method agreed to by everyone is the "fingerprint" method, which compares the pattern of temperature trends calculated from GH models with the pattern observed in the atmosphere. The first application of this method may have been by Santer et al in IPCC-SAR [1996]. However, Santer misapplied the method in order to force the conclusion that warming was due to human causes, namely GH gases.

In one attempt, he compared the geographic pattern of surface temperature trends, derived from GH models, with the observed pattern. He calculated a "pattern correlation coefficient" and claimed that it was increasing with time "as the human signal emerged from the background noise of climate variability" [IPCC-SAR, 1996, chapter 8]. However, when the graph there is compared to the one in his original publication [Santer et al 1995], one discovered that he had removed all of the trend lines, including zero and negative trends, except the one that suggested an increasing correlation in the last 50 years [Singer 1997]. When questioned about this by e-mail, he replied that it was done for "pedagogic reasons"**

Santer's second attempt, also in chapter 8 of IPCC-SAR, was to compare the modeled and observed latitude and altitude patterns of temperature trends. It was soon discovered, however, that his claimed "agreement" was due to a selective use of data; he had chosen a time interval (1963-1987) during which the tropospheric trend was increasing, while the overall trend during the period (1957-1995) was not [Michaels and Knappenberger 1996].

By then it had become quite apparent that there was a disparity between the observed trends in the troposphere and the surface [NRC 2000; Singer 2001]. Douglass, Pearson and Singer carried out a full-scale comparison of available model results and temperature observations from balloons, satellites, and reanalysis [2004]. They concluded that the observations did not confirm the expected increase (from GH models) in temperature trends with altitude in the tropics; but they did not delve into the implication of this disparity. As a result, their result was largely ignored.

Next, a full-scale investigation of this problem was carried out as part of the federally financed Climate Change Science Program. CCSP-SAP-1.1 [2006], the first and most crucial of the 21 reports of the CCSP, titled "Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences," confirmed the result of Douglass et al [2004].

To be sure, the abstract of CCSP 1.1 claims that the discrepancies between surface warming and tropospheric warming trends have been removed. This statement distorts the sense of the CCSP report and has been widely misunderstood as having confirmed the validity of GH models. CCSP-1.1 admits, however, (p.3) that in the tropics "the majority of observational data sets show more warming at the surface than in the troposphere..[but] almost all model simulations show more warming in the troposphere than at the surface." In other words, there exists indeed a discrepancy, which has not been removed. This Executive Summary was authored by Wigley, with the participation of the chapter lead authors, including Santer.

Following the publication of CCSP 1.1, and using best available models and data, Douglass, Christy, Pearson, and Singer [2007] extended their comparison between model results and observations in the tropical zone and concluded again that the observations did not confirm the GH model results. This paper was also ignored until a group of independent scientists, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) published its summary report in 2008. Drawing mainly on the data from CCSP-1.1 and Douglass et al [2007], NIPCC [Singer et al 2008] showed conclusively the disparity between GH models and observations.

The NIPCC then drew the obvious logical conclusion: Since GH models cannot explain the observations, the warming of the past 30 years must be due predominantly to causes other than GH gases. In other words, the human contribution to the warming trend since 1979 is minor and insignificant - a conclusion contrary to that of IPCC [2007]. Another way of stating the NIPCC result: Climate Sensitivity is considerably less than the values quoted by the IPCC, i.e. 1.5 - 4.5 C, and more in accord with the much lower values deduced by other methods [Schwartz, Monckton, Lindzen, Spencer].

Source (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

A well-informed reply to a conventional media article:

This article ("Current issue of the Observer - Cayman must adapt to global warming") is alarmist and is intended to scare Cayman's people into believing the harsh predictions of the IPCC (Inter Government Panel on Climate Change) about global warming. Murray Simpson is one of their disciples.

In actual fact, the earth entered into a global cooling phase about 10 years ago, and this cooling phase is accelerating. In the last 10 years, satellite measurements of atmospheric temperature have been falling. Last January, record cold hit Florida, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maine, Arizona, Texas, Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon, and Washington. During March, record cold again hit North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida, and then six more states in April. In fact, new record lows have been set every month in the US, including this October.

In the Southern hemisphere, Sydney, Australia, experienced its coldest August on record. Brazil and South Africa were surprised by snow, which they had never seen before. The US, Canada and Europe have had a cool summer.

The effect of global cooling on humanity will be entirely different and much more severe than any global warming. For starters, food crops will fail, food prices will rise, millions will starve, the sea level will fall, canals will dry up,Cayman will gain real estate, and will attract many more visitors trying to escape the cold.

No scientists dispute the fact that the earth's climate is always changing. What they do dispute is the direction and causes. Over the last 600,000 years there have been four ice ages, each lasting about 100,000 years, with warm periods in between, averaging about 10,000 years. And we are at the end of the latest warm period. No matter what the IPCC says, these are geological facts. Were humans causing those ice ages and intervening warm periods? If not, then the simple question is who, or what?

When the last ice age ended about 10,000 years ago, the earth warmed up to a peak temperature around 5,000 years ago when the Sumerians founded their society, and it has never been that high since. There have been valleys and peaks since then, but every peak has been lower than the previous peak. One of the recent peaks occurred in the 12th century, when there were flourishing vineyards all over Britain, and the Vikings discovered and settled in Greenland.

However, they were frozen out in the 1400s when our temperatures descended into the mini ice age. The Thames froze over every winter, and people could walk over the Baltic Sea ice from Sweden to Poland.

In recent years, the pronouncements of the IPCC (Inter Government Panel on Climate Change have been discredited. Their famous `hockey stick' graph showing temperatures over the last few hundred years has been shown to be a fiction. Since this `hockey stick' graph is the foundation of the whole global warming `science', then that `science' has also been discredited.

Dr David Archibald, an eminent climatologist, and others, have pulled the rug out from under the IPCC, by showing that the relationship between CO2 and global temperature is weak and almost non-existent. He even suggests that we need three times the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere than we have now, to optimize the growth of food crops.

A fundamental problem with the IPCC's `science' is that it ignores the geological data that was collected over thousands of years up until the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the beginning of their fraudulent `hockey stick' temperature graph.

Now please tell me how anyone can accept the IPCC's science, which cannot, and does not even attempt to explain what has happened in the earth's history. If they cannot do that, then how on earth can they purport to predict the future? In fact, they cannot and, until they can, the best possible course is to ignore the IPCC completely.

However, the IPCC continues to push their fraudulent predictions and scare tactics even more stridently than before. Never mind that on December 21, 2007, a "U.S. Senate report documents hundreds of prominent scientists - experts in dozens of fields of study worldwide - who say global warming and cooling is a cycle of nature and cannot legitimately be connected to man's activities."

The UN (United Nations) bureaucracy wants to grow its size, acquire more power, and extract income from trading so-called carbon credits. Billions of taxpayer money from all over the world is at stake, so this is something that all of us should take very seriously.


Australia's Great Barrier Reef could adapt to climate change, scientists say

Hoagy, the Danish nature-lover, gets a long overdue kick in the pants. Coral already grows in very warm waters -- in the Torres Strait, for instance. Species diversity is greatest there, in fact. Hoagy is a nut

The prediction of a prominent marine biologist that climate change could render the Great Barrier Reef extinct within 30 years has been labelled overly pessimistic for failing to account for the adaptive capabilities of coral reefs. University of Queensland marine biologist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg said yesterday that sea temperatures were likely to rise 2C over the next three decades, which would undoubtedly kill the reef. But several of Professor Hoegh-Guldberg's colleagues have taken issue with his prognosis.

Andrew Baird, principal research fellow at the Australian Research Council's Centre for Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, said there were "serious knowledge gaps" about the impact rising sea temperatures would have on coral. "Ove is very dismissive of coral's ability to adapt, to respond in an evolutionary manner to climate change," Dr Baird said. "I believe coral has an underappreciated capacity to evolve. It's one of the biological laws that, wherever you look, organisms have adapted to radical changes."

Dr Baird acknowledged that, if left unaddressed, climate change would result in major changes to the Great Barrier Reef. "There will be sweeping changes in the relative abundance of species," he said. "There'll be changes in what species occur where. "But wholesale destruction of reefs? I think that's overly pessimistic." Dr Baird said the adaptive qualities of coral reefs would mitigate the effects of climate change.

His comments were backed by Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority chairman and marine scientist Russell Reichelt. "I think that he's right," Dr Reichelt said. "The reef is more adaptable and research is coming out now to show adaptation is possible for the reef." Dr Reichelt said the greatest threat facing the reef was poor water quality in the coastal regions, the result of excess sediment and fertiliser. "If a reef's going to survive bleaching, you don't want to kill it with a dirty river," he said.

Professor Hoegh-Guldberg, who in 1999 won the prestigious Eureka science prize for his work on coral bleaching, said the view "that reefs somehow have some magical adaptation ability" was unfounded. "The other thing is, are we willing to take the risk, given we've got a more than 50 per cent likelihood that these scenarios are going to come up?" Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said. "If I asked (my colleagues) to get into my car and I told them it was more than 50 per cent likely to crash, I don't think they'd be very sensible getting in it."

He told the ABC's Lateline program on Thursday the threat posed by climate change to the Great Barrier Reef should be treated as a "global emergency". "Why we aren't just panicking at thispoint and starting to really make some changes? Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said. "It just ... it blows my mind sometimes."



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