Monday, April 27, 2015

Australia: Fishing impacts on the Great Barrier Reef

Mankind has impacted food species since time immemorial so this is nothing new -- and no evidence of any harm to people is adduced from it in this instance.  And vast parts of Australia's surrounding waters are in marine parks anyway. Fishing is already very restricted

It's long been known that environmental impacts such as climate change and pollution are amongst the drivers of change on the Great Barrier Reef.

Now researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) at James Cook University have found that removing predatory fish such as coral trout and snapper, through fishing, causes significant changes to the make-up of the reef's fish populations. [Anything else would be surprising]

"A stable and healthy reef [Define "healthy"] includes a high abundance and diversity of predatory fish and a relatively low number of herbivorous and small prey fish," says study lead author April Boaden, a PhD student at the Coral CoE.

"Predatory fish are extremely important for maintaining a balanced ecosystem on the reef, yet predators such as coral trout, snapper and emperor fish remain the main target for both recreational and commercial fishers," she says.

As part of the study, the researchers conducted extensive surveys of fish and their habitats at multiple sites across the Great Barrier Reef.

They compared fish communities in designated marine reserves (green zones), recreational fishing areas (yellow zones) and sites that allowed both commercial and recreational fishing (blue zones).

"We found that the fish communities on reefs differed greatly according to the level of fishing that they were subject to," Ms Boaden says.

"Predator numbers were severely depleted in heavily fished areas, while smaller prey fish such as damselfish, and herbivores such as parrotfish, had increased greatly in number having been released from predation."

The reduction in predator abundance through fishing altered the balance and structure of the coral reef ecosystem.

"Major disturbances such as cyclones, coral bleaching, climate change, Crown of Thorns Starfish and river run-off are thought to be the primary agents of change on the Great Barrier Reef," says study co-author, Professor Mike Kingsford from the Coral CoE.

"Despite this, we have demonstrated that great differences in the abundance of predatory reef fish, and of their prey, can be attributed to humans," Professor Kingsford says.

The findings support the continued and improved use of the existing marine networks on the Great Barrier Reef.

"The good news is that the data demonstrate that the current system of marine reserves on the Great Barrier Reef is effective in preserving predator numbers, and in doing so we can learn more about the processes affecting reefs in the face of multiple impacts," Professor Kingsford says.

"Fishing impacts are something that we can manage fairly easily compared to other threats such as climate change and run-off pollution, which are threatening the Great Barrier Reef," adds Ms Boaden.

Journal Reference:  A. E. Boaden, M. J.  Kingsford. Predators drive community structure in coral reef fish assemblages. Ecosphere, 2015; 6 (4): art46 DOI: 10.1890/ES14-00292.1


Sixty-five years of duck and cover

By Don Todd

In the 1930s, the theme song of the Democratic Party was “Happy Days Are Here Again.” What a change that is from the current unofficial theme song of the left which seems to be “Nobody Knows the Troubles I’ve Seen.” The left is in a constant state of high anxiety over impending doom. The cause of this doom changes periodically, but the message is always the same: “The end is near!”

People used to laugh at such eccentric notions; now the Democrats want to punish anyone who disagrees with their predictions of impending catastrophe.

In the 1950s, “nuclear holocaust” was just the thing to keep people up at night. Grade school children were called upon to hide under their desks with their hands over their heads as if this would protect them from a nuclear attack. Conelrad, the emergency broadcast system was advertised regularly on the radio just to remind everyone an attack could come at any moment.

Over time, people got tired of worrying about an attack that never came; so to replace the H-Bomb, Dr. Paul Ehrlich in 1968 came up with The Population Bomb. Time magazine ran a cover story, and television documentaries were produced to convince the American public that soon we would be eating our dead because of a lack of food and arable land. Dr. Ehrlich’s book became a best seller, and anyone who disagreed was labeled an idiot and a science denier. To defuse the population bomb, it was recommended that birth control chemicals be placed it the public water supply. The recommendation was made by Dr. John Holdren, who is now President Obama’s National Science Advisor. Dr. Holdren did have one caveat, and that was that these chemicals should not affect our pets.

When The Population Bomb fizzled, a new crisis appeared on the horizon, “The New Ice Age.” Soon, we were told, we would all be freezing in the dark. Newsweek ran a cover story.

When this did not happen, we were soon warned about the depletion of the ozone layer that was being caused by canned aerosol products and the refrigerant used in most homes and cars on which DuPont was about to lose its patent. A large segment of the population was predicted to imminently be in danger of coming down with skin cancer. Products were effectively banned; a new patented refrigerant was produced by DuPont; and now we seldom hear of the ozone layer.

Acid rain was a grave concern. It was going to defoliate the forest; there would be no shade; and like the other scientific emergency fantasies, the end result would be death to all humans. Cockroaches, it was predicted, would survive.

Nuclear winter had a short run as the next thing to worry about. ABC did a movie of the week on it. Dr. Ehrlich of The Population Bomb fame traveled the country scaring college students with his new horror stories. My son attended one of these sessions at George Mason University, and he reported that a young woman ran from the auditorium shrieking in fear.

Then global warming debuted in a crowded Congressional hearing room during a typically hot Washington summer day with the air conditioning turned off. The witness was sweating. How could anyone deny warming was here when you could see it right before your eyes?

Global warming did not happen, so a shift was made to climate change. Since the climate changes over time that seems life a safe bet.

What is one to make of 65 years of predictions of impending doom from the left? Part of it is “Hey, look! A squirrel!” They do this in order to distract people from the real damage the left is doing to Western civilization. Another part is that these are very unhappy people, and misery loves company.


Media Too Welcoming of Climate Skeptics? Please

In a recent interview with Think Progress, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said he believes the climate debate in America is still hotly contested because climate skeptics are provided too much leeway. “There’s this journalistic ethos saying if I get one opinion then I need to get another opinion that countervails that,” he explained. But we know the world isn’t anything other than round (something, ironically, the science community once disputed), so why should a doubter be allowed to argue it is “lest someone think you are being biased in your reporting?”

Says Tyson, “[T]hat’s absurd. You wouldn’t do that, you’re educated. You know that there are certain points of view that have no foundation at all in objective truth.”

The same concept, he suggests, applies to the alarming predictions about man-made global warming: “I think journalists are abandoning what would be their sensibility of following the emergent truths and in some cases painting a debate as though there’s a scientific debate when in fact there isn’t one — and that makes for headlines and more clicks.”

The fact that not a single prediction portending environmental disaster has materialized provides all the evidence we need to call these “emergent truths” for what they are — lies.

And Tyson’s attack on the media is especially laughable considering climate skeptics are rarely allowed to present their point of view on national television — and public opinion on this issue still isn’t on the Left’s side. According to a 2014 study by Indiana University researchers Lars Willnat & David H. Weaver, only 7.1% of journalists describe themselves as Republicans, down from 18% in 2002 and 25.7% in 1971, yet the American Enterprise Institute reports the percentage of Americans “worried a great deal” about the climate is just 32% in 2015, slightly down from 35% in 1989.

There is no vast right-wing conspiracy among the media. Even so, some lies, as public polling proves, are clearly just too pretentious to fall for.


The State of Our Planet Is Better Than Ever

[Wednesday was] Earth Day and to hear the experts like Usher and Al Gore tell the story, the planet is in a miserable state. We’re running out of our natural resources, we’re overpopulating the globe and running out of room, the air that we breathe is becoming toxic, the oceans are rising and soon major coastal cities will be underwater, and the Earth is, of course, heating up, except when it is cooling down.

This is perhaps the single greatest misinformation campaign in world history. Virtually none of these claims are even close to the truth — except for the fact that our climate is always changing as it has for hundreds of thousands of years.

Since the first Earth Day back in the 1970s, the environmentalists — those who worship the creation rather than the Creator — have issued one false prediction of Armageddon after another. Yet despite a batting average approaching zero, the media and our schools keep parroting their declinism as if they were oracles rather than proven shysters.

Here are the factual realities that we should be celebrating on Earth Day.

1) Natural resources are more abundant and affordable today than ever before in history. Short-term (sometimes decades-long) volatility aside, the price of most natural resources — from cocoa to cotton to coal — is cheaper today in real terms than 50, 100, or 500 years ago. This has happened even as the world’s population has nearly tripled. Technology has far outpaced depletion of the Earth’s resources.

2) Energy — the master resource — is super abundant. Remember when people like Paul Ehrlich nearly 50 years ago and Barack Obama just three years ago — warned the we were running out of oil and gas. Today, thanks to the new age of oil and gas thanks to fracking, the United States has hundreds of years of petroleum and an estimated 290 years of coal. Keep in mind, this may be a low-ball estimate; since 2000, the Energy Information Administration’s estimates of recoverable reserves have actually increased by more than 7 percent.

We’re not running out of energy, we are running into it.

3) Air and water. Since the late 1970s, pollutants in the air have plunged. Lead pollution plunged by more than 90 percent, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide by more than 50 percent, with ozone and nitrogen dioxide declining as well. This means that emissions per capita have declined even as the economy in terms of real GDP nearly tripled. By nearly every standard measure it is much, much, much cleaner today in the United States than 50 and 100 years ago. The air is so clean now that the EPA worries about carbon dioxide which isn’t even a pollutant. (And, by the way, carbon emissions are falling too, thanks to fracking). One hundred years ago, about one in four deaths in the U.S. was due to contaminants in drinking water. But from 1971-2002, fewer than three people per year in the U.S. were documented to have died from water contamination.

4) There is no Malthusian nightmare of overpopulation. Birth rates have fallen by about one-half around the world over the last 50 years. Developed countries are having too few kids, not too many. Even with a population of 7.3 billion people, average incomes, especially in poor countries, have surged over the last 40 years. The number of people in abject poverty fell by 1 billion from 1981 to 2011, even as global population increased by more than 1.5 billion.

5) Global per capita food production is 40 percent higher today than as recently as 1950. In most nations the nutrition problem today is obesity — too many calories consumed — not hunger. The number of famines and related deaths over the last 100 years has fallen in half. More than 12 million lives on average were lost each decade from the 1920s-1960s to famine. Since then, fewer than 4 million lives on average per decade were lost. Tragically, these famines are often caused by political corruption — not nature. Furthermore, the price of food has fallen steadily in the U.S. — and most other nations steadily for 200 years.

6) The rate of death and physical destruction from natural disasters or severe weather changes has plummeted over the last 50 to 100 years. Loss of life from hurricanes, floods, heat, droughts, and so on is at or near record lows. This is because we have much better advance warning systems, our infrastructure is much more durable, and we have things like air conditioning, to adapt to weather changes. ?We are constantly discovering new ways to harness and even tame nature.

Earth Day should be a day of joy and celebration that life on this bountiful planet is better than anytime in human history. The state of the planet has never been in such fine shape by almost every objective measure. The Chicken Littles are as wrong today as they were 50 years ago. This is very good news for those who believe that one of our primary missions as human beings is to make life better over time and to leave our planet better off for future generations.


Mass. Stuck With $113M Marine Terminal Built for Failed Offshore Wind Farm

Massachusetts taxpayers are stuck with a $113 million marine terminal started by former Gov. Deval Patrick as a construction staging area for a failed wind farm project that was supposed to provide clean energy and hundreds of jobs for the state's residents.

Touted as “America’s first offshore wind farm,” Cape Wind planned to erect 130 Siemens wind turbines five miles off the coast of Cape Cod and harness the strong winds blowing through Nantucket Sound to produce electricity.

But the $2.6 billion project’s contracts with the state’s two largest utilities were terminated in January after Cape Wind missed its December 31 financing deadline.

Last July, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz heralded Cape Wind, which was awarded a $150 million loan guarantee by his department, as the beginning of “a strong U.S. offshore wind industry.”

“With this agreement and with the investments we have made in infrastructure like the South Coast Marine Commerce Terminal, we have positioned Massachusetts as a first-in-the-nation hub for a new offshore wind industry that will bring jobs and a clean source of Massachusetts-made energy for future generations,” Patrick said last September when he announced a lease agreement for the terminal.

“I am very happy Cape Wind will be built in New Bedford… Governor Patrick’s administration deserves credit for its work to support this project and to make Massachusetts a leader in clean energy,” echoed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), just three months before the wind farm project collapsed.

The project faced stiff opposition from local communities and wealthy residents ranging from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy to billionaire William Koch, both of whom had family compounds on Cape Cod.

The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound complained that the 440-foot high wind turbines would have been visible from the shore and “would look like LaGuardia Airport” at night. The group also said the wind farm would be a threat to navigation and commercial fishing in the sound while significantly increasing local residents’ electricity bills.

Instead of creating hundreds of new jobs and 360-million megawatts of clean energy, Cape Wind created a new problem for state officials: What to do with the unfinished $113 million marine terminal?

Last month, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), a quasi-governmental agency, announced it had terminated its $4.5 million, two-year contract with Cape Wind to rent the 28-acre terminal, which is located in New Bedford, Mass.

MassCEC has since received three bids for operation of the terminal, which is still under construction and $10 million over budget. The winning bidder is expected to be announced by this summer.

But Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton, who chairs MassCEC, says renting the empty terminal will likely not bring in the same amount of revenue as the Cape Wind deal promised.

“I think it will be less. I think it’s just a question of how much less,” he told The Boston Herald.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the estimated levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for new generation resources in 2019 – defined as “the per-kilowatt hour cost (in real dollars) of building and operating a generating plant over an assumed financial life and duty cycle” – will be $204.10 for offshore wind, or more than three times the $66.30 cost for producing electricity using natural gas.


Nonsense about climate and health

H. Sterling Burnett

Following a playbook designed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as described in memos the Obama administration fought to keep secret, on April 7 President Barack Obama announced efforts to highlight the alleged public health impacts of climate change on children and minorities. Obama made the announcement personal, noting he was terribly frightened once when he had to rush his daughter Malia to the emergency room when she couldn’t breathe due to asthma.

As an asthma sufferer myself, I can attest such an attack is frightening. However, as a recent study (one in a long line of studies) shows, asthma attacks and the increasing rates of asthma have nothing to do with global warming, and everything to do with poverty, increasingly sedentary lifestyles, and indoor air quality. It is shameless of Obama to exploit his daughter’s asthma to push his politically unpopular climate agenda.

The recent study, authored by a research team led by Dr. Corrine Keet of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, found no link between outdoor air quality and childhood asthma. Rather, the study points to indoor air pollution, from secondhand smoke, mold, rodents, and the like, as a significant factor in childhood asthma cases. EPA does not have authority over indoor air pollution.

Discussing the study in Environment & Climate News, Paul Knappenberger, assistant director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, said, “Clearly, I think it undermines one of the primary excuses used by the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and some types of air pollutants as well.”

Since science has not established a link between climate change and public health, much less a specific link between global warming and the health of children or minorities, one cannot help but wonder why the administration is pushing this line of argument.

A memo released as part of an ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request examining EPA rule-making reveals the administration’s motives. The March 2009 memo shows EPA feared it was losing support for its climate efforts because opinion polls consistently showed the public ranked fighting global warming very low on its list of priorities. The memo describes EPA’s decision to shift the debate from concerns about melting ice caps and declining polar bear populations, to promoting the idea global warming poses a direct threat to public health, especially children’s and minorities health. Quoting the memo,

Most Americans will never see a polar ice cap, nor will [they] ever have a chance to see a polar bear in its natural habitat. Therefore, it is easy to detach from the seriousness of the issue. Unfortunately, climate change in the abstract is an increasingly – and consistently – unpersuasive argument to make. However, if we shift from making this issue about polar caps [to being] about our neighbor with respiratory illness we can potentially bring this issue home to many Americans.

According to the memo, EPA took steps to raise concerns about climate change among minority groups and women, using headline-catching “hooks” concerning social justice and children’s health.

Per the memo, “We must begin to create a causal link between the worries of Americans and the proactive mission we’re pushing.”

Chris Horner, an attorney and senior fellow of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, obtained the memo through FOIA. Horner said, “This memo shows EPA’s recognition the global warming case is ‘consistently – an unpersuasive argument to make,’ and thus required a facelift, from a pro-scarcity movement of wealthy white elites to a racial and ‘social justice’ issue.”

Considering how the mainstream media unquestioningly parrots every claim made by the Obama administration concerning climate change, it did not surprise me reporters failed to link the president’s April 7 announcement to the recently uncovered EPA memos. Evidently bad climate news, as opposed to the truth, sells papers.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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