Derek Tipp – Jennifer Marohasy
THE propaganda from our Great Barrier Reef scientists at the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium is relentless. According to Janice Lough, Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), the rate of change from anthropogenic global warming is unprecedented and is already having a catastrophic impact on the Great Barrier Reef. Also in front of the TV camera today, Phillip Munday, James Cook University, said the most spectacular of our coral reef fish will disappear. And John Pandolfi, University of Queensland, was begging us to do more to save the reef. Australian Institute of Marine Science research director Peter Doherty told the $10 million symposium of more than 2000 marine scientists from 80 countries of an “alarming and unsustainable decline” in coral over large sections of the Great Barrier Reef in nearly three decades.
But I reckon it’s all a put-on: they are crying wolf.
One of the symposium themes is ‘Climate change and bleaching’.
There have been some spectacular bleaching events in the last 15 years. The reality, however, is that most of the Great Barrier Reef has not bleached, and those areas that have bleached have almost fully recovered. The following are some interesting facts about heat and coral growth: 
1. All the species of coral that occur in the Great Barrier Reef also grow in Papua New Guinea where the waters are 2 degrees warmer.
2. Coral growth rates and tissue thickness generally increases with increasing temperature. The only regularly temperature-stressed corals in Queensland are in Moreton Bay, because the ocean water there regularly gets too cold.
3. The short lived Acropora corals which are most susceptible to bleaching make a choice of the symbiotic algae which resides inside them. It is the expulsion of these algae that causes bleaching. It is now known that the some clades of algae make the coral grow very fast but also renders them susceptible to bleaching. On the other hand, other clades of algae make the coral grow slowly but to be less susceptible to bleaching. By selecting different clades of algae, it is now apparent that the corals can easily adapt to major temperature changes, whether these are natural or not.
4. If global warming occurs and the sea-level rises in consequence, there will be a spectacular increase in coral cover on the large areas of reef flat which are now almost devoid of corals due to the fall in sea-level that has occurred in Queensland over the last 5000 years. These areas are presently below the spring low tide level and are thus exposed to the air. Sea level rise will allow these areas to recolonise.
5. High surface water temperatures associated with the two major bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef in recent decades were a result of periods of extended calm associated with strong El Niño conditions. At such times normal wave mixing ceases as does the normal wave driven currents across shallow reef tops. This permits unusually high water temperatures to develop and the water on top of reefs to become especially warm. There is no evidence to indicate any influence of anthropogenic climate change in these events nor of any increase in the frequency or strength of such events.
Scientists at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and various universities depend upon generous government funding to study the supposed threats of climate change and coral bleaching. But rather than reporting their research findings in a scientifically meaningful way they behave as political activists and propagandists and talk nonsense.
1. Climate change could make reef boring, Conor Duffy, July 10, 2012. http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2012-07-10/climate-change-could-make-barrier-reef-boring/977326
2. Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns hears of threats to our natural ocean wonders, Peter Michael, July 10, 2012. http://www.cairns.com.au/article/2012/07/10/227711_local-news.html
3. Interesting facts about heat and coral growth compiled by Professor Peter Ridd, James Cook University.