Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Another shriek about bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef
This is just a repetition of a story that has been going on for a year or more. Previous claims of this nature have been shown to be highly exaggereated so a repetition of the claims from the same people as before has no credibility.
I was born and bred in an area close to the reef and have been hearing cries of alarm about the reef for 50 years. But somehow the reef still seems to be there. It has always had episodes of retreat but coral is highly resilient and bounces back quite rapidly.
One thing we can be sure of is that the problems were not caused by anthropogenic global warming. Why? Because that theory says that warming is caused by increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. But the latest readings show NO increase in CO2 during 2015 and 2016
There WAS warming up until recently but that was caused by the El Nino weather cycle, not CO2. Once again we had the chronic Warmist problem that CO2 levels and temperatures do not correlate. Below is a picture of the El Nino effect on global temperatures. You see it peaked late last year and has been falling ever since. So if warmth was the cause of the reef problems, the reef should soon start to recover
Two-thirds of the corals in the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef have died in the reef’s worst-ever bleaching event, according to our latest underwater surveys.
On some reefs in the north, nearly all the corals have died. However the impact of bleaching eases as we move south, and reefs in the central and southern regions (around Cairns and Townsville and southwards) were much less affected, and are now recovering.
In 2015 and 2016, the hottest years on record, we have witnessed at first hand the threat posed by human-caused climate change to the world’s coral reefs.
Heat stress from record high summer temperatures damages the microscopic algae (zooxanthellae) that live in the tissues of corals, turning them white.
After they bleach, these stressed corals either slowly regain their zooxanthellae and colour as temperatures cool off, or else they die.
The Great Barrier Reef bleached severely for the first time in 1998, then in 2002, and now again in 2016. This year’s event was more extreme than the two previous mass bleachings.
Surveying the damage
We undertook extensive underwater surveys at the peak of bleaching in March and April, and again at the same sites in October and November. In the northern third of the Great Barrier Reef, we recorded an average (median) loss of 67% of coral cover on a large sample of 60 reefs.
The dieback of corals due to bleaching in just 8-9 months is the largest loss ever recorded for the Great Barrier Reef.
To put these losses in context, over the 27 years from 1985 to 2012, scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science measured the gradual loss of 51% of corals on the central and southern regions of the Great Barrier Reef.
They reported no change over this extended period in the amount of corals in the remote, northern region. Unfortunately, most of the losses in 2016 have occurred in this northern, most pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef.
The bleaching, and subsequent loss of corals, is very patchy. Our map shows clearly that coral death varies enormously from north to south along the 2,300km length of the Reef.
The southern third of the Reef did not experience severe heat stress in February and March. Consequently, only minor bleaching occurred, and we found no significant mortality in the south since then.
In the central section of the Reef, we measured widespread but moderate bleaching, which was comparably severe to the 1998 and 2002 events. On average, only 6% of coral cover was lost in the central region in 2016.
The remaining corals have now regained their vibrant colour. Many central reefs are in good condition, and they continue to recover from Severe Tropical Cyclones Hamish (in 2009) and Yasi (2011).
In the eastern Torres Strait and outermost ribbon reefs in the northernmost part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, we found a large swathe of reefs that escaped the most severe bleaching and mortality, compared to elsewhere in the north. Nonetheless, 26% of the shallow-water corals died.
We suspect that these reefs were partially protected from heat stress by strong currents and upwelling of cooler water across the edge of the continental shelf that slopes steeply into the Coral Sea.
For visitors, these surveys show there are still many reefs throughout the Marine Park that have abundant living coral, particularly in popular tourism locations in the central and southern regions, such as the Whitsundays and Cairns.
The northern third of the Great Barrier Reef, extending 700km from Port Douglas to Papua New Guinea, experienced the most severe bleaching and subsequent loss of corals.
On 25% of the worst affected reefs (the top quartile), losses of corals ranged from 83-99%. When mortality is this high, it affects even tougher species that normally survive bleaching.
However, even in this region, there are some silver linings. Bleaching and mortality decline with depth, and some sites and reefs had much better than average survival. A few corals are still bleached or mottled, particularly in the north, but the vast majority of survivors have regained their colour.
What will happen next?
The reef science and management community will continue to gather data on the bleaching event as it slowly unfolds. The initial stage focused on mapping the footprint of the event, and now we are analysing how many bleached corals died or recovered over the past 8-9 months.
Over the coming months and for the next year or two we expect to see longer-term impacts on northern corals, including higher levels of disease, slower growth rates and lower rates of reproduction. The process of recovery in the north – the replacement of dead corals by new ones – will be slow, at least 10-15 years, as long as local conditions such as water quality remain conducive to recovery.
As global temperatures continue to climb, time will tell how much recovery in the north is possible before a fourth mass bleaching event occurs.
'It's not good enough': Pauline Hanson says there is no definition of 'Aboriginal' people - and claims anyone can give themselves the label if they marry an Indigenous Australian
Pauline Hanson has said there is no definition of an Aboriginal person while calling for changes to race-hate laws.
The One National leader told Andrew Bolt on Sky News on Monday she believes there is no definition, and has been asking for one for years.
'If you marry an Aboriginal you can be classified (as one), or if the community or the elders accept you into that community you can be defined as an Aboriginal,' she said.
'That's not good enough because then if you make a comment about it, well what are you? Are you an Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal?'
'I think that people need to toughen up a bit, we've all become so precious.
'We've stopped freedom of speech - to have a say to have an opinion and I remember when I was a kid sticks and stones may break your bones and that was the old saying.'
Senator Hanson made the remarks while defending calls for changes to the Racial Discrimination Act.
The firebrand senator says she had previously raised issues about 'equality' over the years about the definition of 'Aboriginal'.
'I think the whole lot needs to be opened up on this, a big debate on this.'
She believes people have become increasingly precious but it should be up to the public to judge controversial comments, including from her or indigenous leader Noel Pearson.
W.A. Police will be able to ram dangerous drivers off the road using the PIT manoeuvre if Labor is elected
DANGEROUS drivers who lead police on wild high-speed chases should be rammed off the road before they can hurt innocent people, Opposition Leader Mark McGowan claims.
Mr McGowan said that if Labor was elected in March, his Government would support a trial of the what is known as the "PIT manoeuvre" on WA roads to enable police to end chases quickly before they got out of the hand.
The manoeuvre is used widely in America, Canada and Britain where police use their vehicles to force fleeing cars into an uncontrolled spin.
But the manoeuvre is controversial, often resulting in serious injury or death to the fleeing driver.
The WA Police Union has been pushing for the PIT to be used in WA, but the idea does not have the support of the Police hierarchy.
Mr McGowan said strict controls would be introduced around when and where the PIT could be used, but he believed the prospect of causing injury to a dangerous driver was a preferable outcome to an innocent family losing their lives.
"I have seen some of those chases on the television and all you want is that car to get off the road before they kill someone," Mr McGowan said.
"I think extreme cases deserve extreme action and the people putting the public at risk like that... deserve everything they get."
'See you in court': Student rejects Labor MP Terri Butler's apology and vows to continue lawsuit
A stoush between a Queensland law student and Labor frontbencher Terri Butler over claims of a "racist smear" is bound for court after he bluntly rejected her apology as a "sham" and vowed to press ahead with a $150,000 defamation lawsuit.
Ms Butler announced at the weekend she had apologised to 25-year-old Calum Thwaites after repeating on national television allegations levelled against him in a case brought under controversial section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act.
Mr Thwaites was one of three Queensland University of Technology students accused of causing offence in a series of Facebook posts about an Indigenous-only computer lab. Mr Thwaites vehemently denied he used the phrase "ITT niggers" and the case against all three men was thrown out of the Federal Circuit Court this month.
On Q&A, Ms Butler implied the allegations had never been tested and said of Mr Thwaites' denials: "He would say that, wouldn't he?" Mr Thwaites elected to sue for damages of up to $150,000, claiming he had been traduced as a racist, bigot and perjurer.
In her letter of apology, sent on Sunday, Ms Butler wrote: "There should be no suggestion that you were responsible for the Facebook post [or] that you are racist, or bigoted. I offer you my unreserved apology for enabling those meanings to be conveyed."
But in a reply released by his lawyer Tony Morris on Monday, Mr Thwaites outright rejected Ms Butler's apology, telling her that to accept it would turn him into her "unpaid publicist". "You will not be surprised to learn that I have no intention of doing so," he wrote.
Mr Thwaites told Ms Butler that her subsequent comments - including suggesting to Fairfax Media that his lawsuit was "hypocritical" - meant that "your so-called 'apology' cannot be regarded as an 'apology' at all".
He also rejected her invitation to discuss the matter further by phone or in-person, saying he would see her in court. "I am sure that we will have an opportunity to meet at the trial of the defamation action," he said.
Mr Thwaites signed off the letter: "P.S. Happy 39th birthday."
Ms Butler - Labor's spokeswoman on equality and universities - has hired law firm Maurice Blackburn, where she was formerly a principal before entering politics in 2014, and is due to file her defence by December 23.
In his letter to Ms Butler, Mr Thwaites outed himself as a former Labor supporter, saying he had "until now" believed the ALP to be "the good guys" of politics. Since effectively becoming a pin-up boy for reform to section 18c, he had been embraced by Coalition figures including the "unreformed right-wing warhorse" Eric Abetz, he wrote.
Ms Butler said the letters spoke for themselves and had no further comment.
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