Monday, June 20, 2016
A very angry woman writes:
"The horrific assassination of British MP Jo Cox should act as a caution for Anthony Watts and his personal vendetta against scientists, whose only "crime" is doing scientific research. He should be very wary of doing or writing anything that would lead one of his nutters to do something like that. I doubt he'll stop"
She claims that her blog is "not a high-brow blog" and it shows. She is just full of anger, in the common Leftist way. The anger seems to have flared up when she "was banned from the share trading forum, HotCopper" but for some unknown reason, the anger seems subsequently to have overflowed onto Anthony Watts. She is pretty obsessed by him. Just about everything he does is wrong, according to her. She is particularly steamed up about one of his more light-hearted posts -- about solar panels on Warmist roofs. A very strange lady
Note that Greenie concerns HAVE fuelled terrorism. Take the case of James Jay Lee, a Greenie who thought that the TV was not Green enough and that babies were "disgusting". Terrorist skeptics have yet to emerge, though.
Spiegel Science Editor: “Surprises Me Again And Again How Some React To Critical Articles On Climate Science”
On June 8 Spiegel science editor Axel Bojanowski wrote a rather harsh piece criticizing recent claims in the German media that “heavy rainfalls” were becoming more frequent in Germany when in fact there is no statistical evidence to support the claim.
He even went so far to call the claims in the media “a climate bluff"
Over the past few weeks Germany and parts of Europe have experienced heavy rainfall. Unsurprisingly some catastrophe-obsessed scientists tried to link the weather to climate change. This prompted the Spiegel journalist to write in his June 8 commentary that the climate doomsday headlines made with every occurring weather anomaly seem to have become a “knee-jerk” reaction by German media outlets.
In response to his critical article, Bojanowski, a geologist by education, was met with a fierce backlash, led by Potsdam scientist Stefan Rahmstorf, who posted one his patented, carefully-crafted the-science-is-settled essays.
Four days later, on June 14, at his blog here, Bojanowski shot back, defending the harsh criticism and tone he used in his critical article, and reiterated that the evidence of more days with extreme rainfall remains was non-existent and that scientists who claim otherwise are harming the discipline of science:
"My criticism was simple: Weather data show no increase in days with heavy rainfalls in Germany – experts, who hide this data, or who claim the opposite, are misleading the citizens, squandering trust in science, and are making science obsolete.”
On claims his criticism was exaggerated, he writes: “No. When experts – especially experts paid by the citizen – hide information or spin it, you should be able to read about this.”
Bojanowski adds: "None of the scientists or meteorolgists that I had criticzed supplied data that would show a long-term increase in heavy rainfalls in Germany. That’s exactly the problem.”
Bojanowski does say, however: "But it would not surprise me if soon there were data showing an increase in heavy rainfall in Germany.”
Climate science is not like other sciences
Because Bojanowski writes about climate, geology and earth sciences, he is well aware that debate and challenge are the fuels that drive scientific progress. So it’s only natural for him to express his surprise at the reactions scientists and journalists had to his critical articles. He summarizes:
"It surprises me again and again how some react to critical articles on climate science. In medical journalism, critical, evidence-based journalism has established itself. I’m very curious to see how things will progress in climate science, foremost concerning the results.”
Indeed, especially over the coming 5 – 10 years.
The Ozone Bureaucracy Complex: EPA Regulations That Can't Distinguish Between a National Park and City Harm the Poor Most
In October 2015, the EPA announced a new standard for ground-level ozone, tightening its stringent existing standard even more. It set the new standard at 70 parts per million (0.0070% of the atmosphere), a 9% decrease from the previous standard of 75 ppm established in 2008. Along with nearly 1000 counties nationwide that may not meet this new standard, one-third of all US counties, you’ll find at least 26 national parks. Does it seem ridiculous to you that the EPA has created a situation where some of the most rural and pristine areas of the United States could be lumping in the same category with the most densely-populated and industrialized? Well, then you don’t know the EPA.
Like many of today’s destructive regulations, this story began with a good idea. Ozone is a known pollutant that can be hazardous to human health, especially at high concentrations. In the Clean Air Act, Congress granted EPA the authority to set national standards for ozone concentrations in an effort to reduce then dangerously high ozone levels. And these regulations have been successful: from 1980-2014 national average ozone readings fell by 33%.
However, like any bureaucracy, the EPA knows that succeeding in an objective does not mean it is time to stop, regulation must always continue to grow. But ozone is not just produced by human activity, there are natural sources of ozone as well as ozone that drifts over the United States from other countries. Ozone from these sources is collectively known as background ozone. Background ozone levels vary from one part of the country to another, but in many parts of the country are close to or above the EPA’s new ozone standard, resulting the ludicrous situation of national parks exceeding the standard.
For example, under the new standards White Pine County, NV will be in violation. White Pine is a county of 9,000 square miles with a mere 10,000 residents, 94% of the county is federally owned land, and much of that is national park or pristine wilderness. And yet, because of background ozone, this county does not and likely cannot meet the EPA’s new standard. If this county cannot comply with the standard, it faces the prospect of permanently being labelled “non-attainment” for ozone, a draconian designation which severely limits building and investment. Counties with high background ozone levels face the impossible situation where the EPA demands they lower ozone readings, but the counties do not have any means to comply. But no matter, it is the job of the EPA to issue new decrees, and the job of the people to comply.
Even for those areas that have the theoretical ability to continue reducing ozone levels, there is the economic cost to consider. The EPA’s own projection of costs has varied wildly: in 2010 EPA projected that the 70 ppm standard would cost $19-25 billion a year, but by 2015 when EPA issued the regulation, it estimated a cost of just $1.4 billion per year. Private estimates of course range much higher.
Moving beyond that headline number, think about what these costs mean for the communities that must bear them. For example, several of the counties that will newly be in violation of EPA ozone standard are in northern Arizona and New Mexico, and a majority of the area of these counties is covered by the Navajo Nation reservation. The Navajo Nation has a poverty rate of 43%, and an unemployment rate of 42%. Per capita income on the reservation is about $7,300, and many thousands of homes on the reservation are not even connected to electricity.
This is a part of the country that needs jobs and economic investment, precisely what the ozone standards prevent. Indeed, across the country counties which are in violation of ozone standards are often home to some of the most concentrated areas of poverty in the United States. A factory that cannot be built near Chicago because of the EPA can be built somewhere else, but the poor residents of Chicago continue to go without jobs. The EPA fails to consider that draconian economic punishments from ozone standards hurt the poor the most, and a lifetime of grinding poverty is far more harmful to a person’s health and wellbeing than ozone levels of 75 ppm.
Ultimately, this is yet another example of a bureaucracy creating a new regulation where none is need simply to justify their own existence. Ozone levels and emissions have fallen for decades, and would continue to fall under the 2008 standard. Indeed, the 2008 standard has still not been fully implemented. The EPA itself has identified 19 metropolitan areas which need more time to meet the previous 2008 standards, and will be giving those areas more time to comply.
The EPA claims that it has no choice and must proceed with this rulemaking, but in 2011 President Obama ordered the EPA to withdraw its previous proposed ozone standard in the name of “reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty.” But today it seems that despite pitifully weak economic growth, regulatory burdens are no longer such a concern.
Top Scientists: CO2-Induced Warming Is “Weak” To Non-Existent For Greenland, Antarctica!
We routinely read about “highest ever” Arctic ice sheet and sea ice melt rates in the Arctic. And about rapid, “faster-than-expected” melting of ice shelves in West Antarctica. And then, of course, we’re told that sea levels are rising at an accelerating rate — a catastrophically accelerating rate — due to the amplified warming at the poles, or “polar amplification”.
The predominant cause of these alarming climate changes is almost invariably attributed to anthropogenic CO2 emissions, of course. These headlines are now commonplace, designed to grab our attention and stir us to action. But does the scientific evidence confirm that the polar climate is predominantly determined by the rise in anthropogenic CO2 emissions?
As documented in the below Climate4you graph (HadCRUT4), the Arctic climate has followed a roughly 60-year oscillation in the last century. Arctic (70-90 N) temperatures warmed during the 1920s to 1940s, cooled during the 1950s to1990s, and then returned to a warming trend from the mid-1990s onward.
Back in the early 1990s, the failure of the Arctic region to warm during the previous ~40 years (1950-1990) despite the concomitant increase in anthropogenic CO2 emissions was puzzling to scientists publishing in the journal Nature (Kahl et al., 1993: “Absence of evidence for greenhouse warming over the Arctic Ocean in the past 40 years“), leading them to question whether the models for the CO2 greenhouse warming hypothesis could adequately explain climate fluctuations for the polar regions.
In contrast to the recent Arctic warming trend, there has been a lack of atmospheric warming in and around Antarctica since the late 1970s according to both the UAH and RSS datasets (as shown in the two graphs below). Scientists have documented a net growth in Antarctic sea ice in the last few decades, and, according to Fan et al. (2014), the Southern Ocean has also cooled since 1979, consistent with the increase in sea ice. These results are, of course, not consistent with modeled projections.
Key points from the Fan et al. (2014) paper entitled “Recent Antarctic sea ice trends in the context of Southern Ocean surface climate variations since 1950“:
[A]ll of these studies reported a close relationship between [sea ice extent] and sea surface temperature (SST) whereby sea ice gain is associated with lower SSTs and vice versa. … Cooling is evident over most of the Southern Ocean in all seasons and the annual mean, with magnitudes approximately 0.2–0.4°C per decade or 0.7–1.3°C over the 33 year period [1979-2011].”
The unsettled science of polar amplification and CO2 forcing
As the warming in the Arctic has resumed (after decades of cooling), scientists no longer seem to be questioning the theoretical models projecting a polar-amplified warming due to increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Instead, it is presumed to be “settled science” that the dominant cause of the Arctic warming trend since the mid-1990s has been anthropogenic CO2 emissions.
But is the science of polar amplification due to a rise in atmospheric CO2 really settled? A paper published recently (2015) by Dr. Schmithüsen (Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany) and colleagues may seriously undermine this conceptualization. The scientists analyze observational measurements (using the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer) of global-scale CO2 radiative forcing and find the greenhouse warming effect for CO2 is “weak” (Greenland) to non-existent (Antarctica) at polar locations, and that the CO2 greenhouse warming effect is instead strongest in the equatorial regions. Not only is the polar amplification paradigm rendered questionable by these observed results, but Schmithüsen et al. (2015) have found that, for central Antarctica, increasing CO2 actually leads to a “negative greenhouse effect”, or a net cooling.
Cloud radiative forcing more than CO2 radiative forcing
To put this relatively “weak” -1 to +5 W/m2 CO2 greenhouse forcing for the polar regions into perspective, consider that the radiative forcing (greenhouse warming effect) for clouds has been found to be several times greater (~30 W/m2) over the Greenland ice sheet than for CO2 forcing (~5 W/m2). In fact, scientists (Tricht et al., 2016) have determined that cloud forcing warmed the Greenland climate by 1.2°C from 2007 to 2010, which is enough heat energy to melt 90 Gigatonnes (Gt) of ice.
Here’s an excerpt from the Tricht et al. (2016) paper “Clouds enhance Greenland ice sheet meltwater runoff“:
"Clouds are known to play a pivotal role in regulating the local SEB [Surface Energy Balance], with competing warming and cooling effects on the surface. […] The satellite-based cloud observations allow to estimate the cloud impact on the SEB [Surface Energy Balance]. … The annual mean CRE [Cloud Radiative Effect] of 29.5 (±5.2) W m 2 provides enough energy to melt 90 Gt of ice in the GrIS [Greenland Ice Sheet] ablation area during July and August. … The snow model simulations, which capture the evolution of the GrIS SMB [Surface Mass Balance] from 2007 to 2010, indicate that clouds warm the GrIS [Greenland Ice Sheet] surface by 1.2° (±0.1) C on average over the entire period [2007-2010]. … These results further indicate that not only liquid-bearing clouds but also clouds composed exclusively of ice significantly increase radiative fluxes into the surface and decrease GrIS SMB [Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Mass Balance]”
Not only for Greenland, but on a global scale, cloud radiative forcing has also long been observed to be far more climatically influential than CO2 forcing. For example, in the Ramanathan et al. (1989) paper entitled “Cloud-Radiative Forcing and Climate: Results from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment” — which has been cited over 1300 times in the peer-reviewed literature — it was determined that the greenhouse effect of CO2 may need to be increased by a factor of 100 to approach the greenhouse effect of clouds.
The implications of these measurements showing relatively minimal CO2 greenhouse forcing at the poles are enormous. Succinctly, the alarmist insistence of a significant anthropogenic influence on polar ice sheet melting and the consequent impact on sea level rise become highly dubious if observational evidence reveals that the CO2 greenhouse effect is only very modest (-1 to +5 W/m2) for the polar regions. For if the Arctic warming trend and sea ice decline that resumed in the 1990s cannot be significantly attributed to increases in atmospheric CO2, this severely undercuts the heart of alarming claims about humans catastrophically altering the polar — and global — climate.
The sensational headlines about melting polar ice and rapidly accelerating sea level rise would be reported with much less exhortative zeal if there wasn’t also a co-existing paradigm that says anthropogenic CO2 emissions are what drive these alleged climate changes. So when science doesn’t corroborate what the alarming headlines say about a significant anthropogenic or CO2 influence on the polar climate, ice melt, or sea level rise, that science is usually glossed over…or dismissed. After all, the science is supposed to be settled. Right?
Former ACLU Prez: Targeting Global Warming Skeptics Is ‘Pure Harassment’
Harvey Silverglate, a renowned civil rights attorney and former president of the American Civil Liberties Union in Massachusetts, called investigations of global warming skeptics by state attorneys general “pure harassment.”
“It is outrageous for any law enforcement official to be seeking to win this battle for minds by flexing law enforcement muscle and trying to shut up the other side,” Silverglate told The Boston Herald Thursday.
Silverglate, a veteran civil rights lawyer, was reacting to a subpoena issued Wednesday by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, demanding ExxonMobil turn over 40 years of records, including records regarding prominent conservative think tanks.
Healey claims the investigation is to determine if Exxon misled the public and shareholders about the risks of global warming. Healey is the latest state prosecutor to demand records from groups that disagree with her on global warming. New York AG Eric Schneiderman became the first law enforcer to investigate Exxon in November.
“It’s not the way scientific or factual or even political battles are settled in this country, which last I checked is still a free country,” Silverglate said, who founded the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
State AGs claim their investigations are based on reporting from liberal news outlets that Exxon tried to cover up the truth about global warming by funding conservative groups skeptical of man-made warming and opposed to anti-fossil fuel policies.
“The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, but it does not protect companies from defrauding the American people or improperly disclosing information to their shareholders,” 19 Democratic California lawmakers recently wrote to state AG Kamala Harris, who has her own probe into Exxon.
But as more AGs start to investigate their political opponents, others are propping up to stop what they see as attacks on free speech.
“Exxon is a resident of the state of Texas, and we felt this was an attack on their first amendment rights,” Texas AG Ken Paxton said after he and Alabama AG Luther Strange filed a brief in support of Exxon’s legal battle to defeat a subpoena from U.S. Virgin Islands AG Claude Walker.
“They have every right to have their opinions on climate change. In my opinion you cross the line when you start prosecuting individuals for disagreeing with you,” he said.
Newspapers have also come out against Democratic AGs who are targeting Exxon.
“Climate change campaigners argue the seriousness of the issue means extreme measures are warranted, but the exact opposite is the case,” the Financial Times editorial board wrote in response to the Exxon investigation.
“It is precisely because the stakes are so high that all arguments must be heard. The actions by the attorney-generals can only degrade the quality of that debate,” they wrote.
Australia: The Great Barrier Reef’s Self-Serving Saviours
By WALTER STARCK
(Walter Starck is one of the pioneers in the scientific investigation of coral reefs. He grew up in the Florida Keys and received a PhD in marine science from the University of Miami in 1964. He has over 40 years worldwide experience in reef studies and his work has encompassed the discovery of much of the basic nature of reef biology. In this process over 100 species of fishes, which were new to science, were found as well as numerous, corals, shells, crustaceans and other new discoveries)
All the many and varied claims of threats are based on speculation and the flat-out fabrications of researchers, bureaucrats and activists seeking grants and donations. Let us hope that a political leader emerges to decry and defund the gold-plated alarmists and the immense harm they are doing
Virtually every year for the past half-century news reports have bannered dire proclamations by “reef experts” on imminent “threats” to the Great Barrier Reef. This has sustained an ongoing, ever-growing charade of “research” and “management” aimed at saving the reef from a litany of hypothetical threats conjured up by a salvation industry which now costs taxpayers over $100 million annually. Although none of these “threats” have ever proven to be anything other than hypothetical possibilities or temporary fluctuations of nature, the doomsters never cease to rummage through their litany of concerns to find something they can present as urgent in order to keep the funding flowing.
For a time in the 1970s and ’80s genuine basic research was beginning to reveal a fascinating range of new understanding about the reef. Sadly, this all too brief golden age of discovery faded away when researchers found that the surest path to funding was to go with the flow and float their careers on the rising tide of environmentalism. We now have a whole generation of researchers whose entire involvement has been in the context of investigating various environmental concerns. Understandably, they perceive and/or present every fluctuation of nature as evidence of some threat.
In this process the open, sceptical, inquiring approach of science has been displaced by what has become the environmental facet of political correctness. Like the latter, it is weak on evidence and brooks no questioning of its doctrine, the penalty for any such heresy being personal denigration, the rejection of research funding, and the rejection of papers by peer-reviewed journals. At its most sinister, even dismissal from employment.
However, and despite all the pretence of scientific authority and consensus, there has been an growing divergence between the orthodoxy and the reality. This stress has recently ruptured into a serious fracture of the salvationist monolith. A recent article, “Great Barrier Reef: scientists ‘exaggerated’ coral bleaching“, in The Australian reports the chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), Russell Reichelt, as stating that the extent of the recent coral bleaching event has been greatly exaggerated. This admission is particularly significant for two reasons: it specifically contradicts claims by researchers, and it comes from the GBRMPA, which until now has itself taken a lead in proclaiming the scientific authority of the many and purported threats to the reef.
Additional support for the accusation of serious exaggeration about threats to the reef has also come from the reef tourism industry, which is gravely concerned about the negative impact of such publicity on their businesses. As the dive-boat captains and tour operators know from their own direct and daily experience, the reef remains healthy and vibrant. It is not dying.
Meanwhile, the doomsters persist in upping the ante to a level of absurdity, now claiming $16 billion is needed from government over the next decade to save the reef.
The reef itself is out there, over the horizon and beneath the sea, where the truth and evidence of its ongoing good health is safely inaccessible. Any alleged and imminent catastrophe can be claimed, with little risk of those claims being revealed as untrue. Indeed, given the media’s inclination to take dictation rather than seek and publish facts, such assertions are seldom even questioned. In the absence of evidence, an easy-to-claim “authority” alone prevails. “Experts” flourish where knowledge struggles and trust is safe from test. Even so, truth has a way of accumulating over time until even the best crafted untruths cannot be maintained.
Recently, there has been a flurry of doomster propaganda capitalising on an extensive coral bleaching event. The thrust of the impression being presented is that most of the corals on the GBR have been killed, that climate change is the cause, and making billions of dollars available to the reef salvation industry is urgently necessary.
The actual situation is far less dramatic. Bleaching events occur when wave-driven mixing ceases during periods of extended calm associated with strong El Niño conditions. This results in the one- to two-metre surface of the ocean becoming several degrees warmer than the water immediately below. This extra-warm layer moves up and down several meters with the tide and may extend deeper in channels or around the edges of reefs where it flows off shallow reef tops on a falling tide. Corals subjected to excessive warmth and rapid temperature fluctuations expel the symbiotic algae which live in their tissues and their white limestone skeletons show through their now-colourless polyps. Such bleaching mainly affects the shallow tops of reefs where it is also very conspicuous. Coral at greater depths remain healthy.
The GBR consists of over 2500 named reefs and many more smaller, unnamed coral patches. The high percentages claimed to be affected by bleaching refer to a sample of reefs where some bleaching was seen, not to the total area of coral which has been affected. The reef is vast and bleaching surveys have naturally concentrated on the regions where it is occurring. How much of the total coral area of the GBR has bleached has not been assessed. A reasonable estimate would likely be closer to 10-20% than to the 90+% being claimed in news reports. Most of the affected corals can be expected to survive and promptly recover, just as they have in other bleaching events.
Some portion of bleached corals will indeed die, and high levels of recovery may require a decade or more. However, mortality from this cause is natural and not dissimilar to the effect of naturally occurring fires in forests. On the GBR, damage to reefs from severe tropical cyclones is in fact much more intense, extensive and frequent than the effects of bleaching. Historical records and proxy studies clearly indicate that both El Niño events and tropical cyclones have been common for many centuries and that neither their frequency nor intensity has increased. In fact, the frequency and intensity of storms in the past century appear to have been well below the preceding one, and there is clear evidence of far more severe impacts in earlier centuries.
It is also important to be aware that extensive coral mortality on shallow reef tops can result from heavy rain during an exceptionally low tide when corals can be exposed to the air for several hours. These so-called “minus tides” can be accurately predicted; typically, they occur several times in most years. It is not at all improbable that this entirely natural factor might also be involved in the mortality being attributed to the recent bleaching.
Whatever the cause, though, any apparent damage is never wasted by those who understand the academic funding process better than than they are prepared to admit grasping the truth about the reef, its corals and eco systems. For otherwise un-notable academics, it is a welcome opportunity to appear important, to bask in the spotlight and attract public attention, to hype the “save the reef” industry and squeeze further funding from politicians under pressure to be seen as doing something, no matter how pointless and expensive. Next year — and you can bet the house on this — the current “threat” will be forgotten in favour of a fresh one.
The repeated claim of a 50% decline in coral cover is based on a recent study which was preceded by an earlier one using the same data from the same research institution only two years before. The first one concluded that no statistically significant change in coral cover had occurred over the previous 25 years. The 50% decline was then declared after including surveys of the damage inflicted by two Category 5 cyclones in the subsequent two years, along with liberal application of some dubious statistical jiggery pokery. Contrary to the claims of this second study, the frequency of such storms is not increasing and reefs do recover surprisingly quickly. A 20% increase in coral cover in the cyclone damaged areas has already been found.
The newer study was published in a high level peer-reviewed journal which requires that any conflicting evidence be addressed. Although the earlier study was briefly cited in passing, no acknowledgment was made of its directly contradictory conclusion. By not mentioning any conflicting evidence in a journal which specifically requires this, the false impression was presented that there is none. It is also worth noting that the lead author of the first study was a co-author of the later one. How then to explain the conflicted findings? At minimum, some might see scientific misconduct at work, perhaps even outright fraud.
Crown-of-Thorns starfish infestations devouring corals are another superannuated “threat” currently being recycled. In the past it was first blamed on shell collecting, then on fishing when the charge against collectors lost all credibility. More recently, the blame shifted to declining water quality due to fertiliser runoff from farming. The reality is that erratic population booms are inherent to the reproductive strategy of starfish and are well known for various species all over the world. Crown-of-Thorns outbreaks commonly occur on isolated oceanic reefs, as well as on coastal reefs in desert regions where agricultural runoff cannot be a factor. Extensive sampling of the frequency of the distinctive spines of the CoT starfish in reef sediments indicate large and erratic fluctuations for at least the past 8000 years. On the GBR no credible correlation has been demonstrated between CoT outbreaks and runoff events. In Western Australia the same kind of CoT outbreaks occur despite there being no runoff from agriculture.
Corals on the GBR are frequently subject to extensive natural mortality from storms, floods and bleaching events. There is no evidence of any recent increase in the frequency or intensity of such events. In the subsequent recovery process the fast growing branching and plate-like coral forms tend to overgrow the slower growing, more massive species. The preference of CoT for these faster growing forms may well be important in the maintenance of coral diversity.
The effect of runoff on GBR water quality has also been grossly exaggerated. Significant runoff in the GBR catchment is limited to occasional brief flood events. These affect only relatively restricted inshore areas well removed from the main body of the reef, which is much further offshore. The nutrient flux on the outer reefs is dominated by naturally occurring internal waves which are much more frequent and orders of magnitude greater in effect than anything coming from the land. Contrary to the highly misleading claims of the reef’s self-proclaimed and self-promoting saviours, there is no evidence of decreasing water quality on the GBR. If anything, the quality of runoff has almost certainly improved over recent decades from advances in land-management practices. In particular this has included a substantial reduction in fertiliser and pesticide usage. There is simply no evidence for any decline in water quality on the reef, and agrichemical usage in the catchment area has declined in recent decades. In short, no evidence exists for anything other than natural perturbations in the condition of the GBR.
A further repeated and grossly misleading claim by the reef salvation industry involves the value of reef tourism. They often cite a varying figure in the billions of dollars which, if not entirely fabricated, can only be the total value for all tourism in the region. This ignores the fact that only about half of visitors actually visit the reef at all and, for the majority of those who do, it is a one-time day trip. A 2013 report by Deloitte Access Economics entitled Economic Contribution of the Great Barrier Reef estimated the value of reef-related tourism in 2012 was $481.4 million — a mere 7.5% of the total value for tourism. Attributing the entire value for tourism to the reef is no more honest than attributing it to the rainforests, beaches, restaurants, backpacking or any other activity that attracts tourist dollars. To do this repeatedly is pathetically ignorant, grossly dishonest or both.
Still another, repeatedly presented misrepresentation is that of increasing warming of reef waters. While there does seem to be a slight warming trend of about three-quarters of a °C over the past century in the global average temperature, the records on which this is based are highly variable and erratic with a margin of error which is greater than the claimed warming. Where good records are available some places show warming and others cooling. The available sea surface temperature data from the GBR shows no statistically significant trend over the past three decades.
The reef is fine. Reef tourism operators know this from direct daily experience and have belatedly started to object to the doomster propaganda. All of the claims of threats to the GBR are based entirely on hypothetical speculations or outright fabrications by researchers, bureaucrats and activists seeking grants, budgets and donations. To its credit, as noted above, even the GBRMPA has recently found the untruths and exaggerations too much to endorse. Government needs to recognise that where genuine understanding is limited, committed belief in the prevailing misunderstanding does not constitute genuine expertise, nor can truth be conjured by modelling ignorance with a computer.
Coral reefs are highly diverse dynamic environments frequently subject to large natural perturbations. Environmentalism primes us to believe in a “fragile balance of nature”, with any significant fluctuation as evidence of some unnatural “impact” caused by humans. Researchers soon discovered that investigation of environmental threats assured generous funding and the result is now a whole generation of researchers whose entire training and experience of the reef has been in the context of investigating such threats. They see every fluctuation as a threat and while they proclaim deep concern for the reef, their true commitment is more to the threats. This becomes apparent if any suggestion is made that a purported threat may not be as great as they claim to fear. The reaction is never hopeful interest. Always, it is angry rejection.
Regardless of whether the reef salvation industry is based on sincere self-delusion or more base motives, it is out of touch with the reality of both the reef and the economic circumstances we face. It has become an extravagant farce. It has never effectively addressed any threat and is something we can no longer afford. It is past time for this to begin to be recognised as such, most particularly
The claim that $16 billion is needed to save the reef is utter nonsense. That vast sum cannot prevent climate change, nor can it stop storms, floods or El Niño events. It cannot prevent starfish outbreaks or bleaching. All it can achieve is to keep the reef saviours on a permanent Barrier Reef holiday and drive more of our struggling primary producers out of production with ever more restrictions, demands and costs.
This is beyond stupid. It is obscene. Australia is indeed the lucky country — but luck, by definition, is never a permanent condition and the current circumstances of the economy are unprecedented and serious, with prospects for the future even more so. Although having one of the world’s highest levels of per capita GDP, Australia also ranks among the highest of developed nations in personal debt, interest rates, and taxation, as well as costs for housing, power, food, education and health care. At the same time most manufacturing has been driven offshore and is now at the lowest portion of GDP in developed economies.
In an economy increasingly dependent on primary production the number of small independent producers has also declined by two-thirds or more over recent decades. This is true across the spectrum from small miners to farmers, graziers, loggers and fishermen. Although various factors have played a role in this change, ever increasing environmental restrictions, demands and costs have been key elements. Unfortunately, these smaller independent operators were the flexible, low-overhead producers who could weather the vicissitudes of nature and markets to thrive in better times. The result has been an ever increasing dominance of foreign owned multinational companies across primary production as well as soaring food prices for domestic consumers.
Australia is now caught up in a perfect storm of weak commodity prices, a high dependence on imports and overseas borrowing, plus an economic base that is increasingly foreign owned. Although the behaviour of complex dynamic systems, such as the national economy or the GBR, is inherently impossible to predict with certainty, the best available evidence indicates that the condition of the economy is far more threatened than is the reef. The “threats” to the reef exist only in the realm of hypothetical possibilities imagined by armchair “experts” claiming authority and unsupported by any firm evidence. The demand for government to spend billions of dollars to “save” the reef is simply obscene when the effective real outcome can only be to load more demands and restrictions on vital productive activity already struggling to remain viable.
A further exposure of the rot in reef science appeared only a few days ago in The Australian (June 11) entitled “Reef whistleblower censured by James Cook University” reports that Professor Peter Ridd, a very experienced and highly regarded senior professor at James Cook University, was threatened with a charge of serious misconduct for questioning the scientific integrity of some blatantly alarmist claims about the GBR. In academic speak “serious misconduct” is code for the sack. If a highly regarded senior professor is so treated take it as a given that the 90+% of academics who are more junior in status will take note to avoid any appearance of dissent. It appears that, as far as the administration at JCU is concerned, maintenance of a comfortable place at the public trough must override any considerations of academic freedom or scientific integrity. It would seem the official definition of “serious misconduct” is more concerned with exposing it than with its commission.
To add a further layer of absurdity to the farce, the upcoming election is seeing politicians of all parties vie with one another to shuffle and re-label sundry budget items and issues in order to inflate public perception of their “commitment” to saving the reef. As if a solar farm in Western Australia or banning a coalmine in outback Queensland represents meaningful efforts to save the reef!
Reader responses to alarmist hype in the mainstream news media clearly indicate a large and growing majority of the electorate is unsympathetic to the ongoing eco farce. When a political leader finally emerges who is willing to confront it, that person is likely to find a tsunami of support. We can only hope that day is coming soon.
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
Posted by JR at 12:21 AM