Monday, November 08, 2021

Cyclones Downs, Corals Up – Except in Glasgow

Written by Jennifer Marohasy

It is impossible to reconcile the official statistics and what is under-the-water with the media reporting – including the reporting from Glasgow. There are meant to be more cyclones and less coral, but we have quite the reverse according to the official statistics. It is also making no sense that those who purport to care so much about the Great Barrier Reef still haven’t visited it. Then there are those who have visited it once, and then there are those who have visited it but never actually got in the water. Some of them are in Glasgow.

It was not for nothing that former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – he apparently visited Magnetic Island some years ago but never got in the water – approved a A$443 million grant to the tiny Great Barrier Reef Foundation. As far as I can tell it is paid out in little bits to all those in proximity who are prepared to lament how the corals are dying. I’ve meet so many who have received something, and so the useful idiots are paid off by the special people now in Glasgow.

On the eve of Glasgow, the same foundation put out comment:

Insufficient global action on climate change is taking a serious toll on the health of our Great Barrier Reef and coral reefs around the world. The facts are clear – coral reefs and their communities are on the front line. We know current climate change commitments don’t go far enough to protect them and we know this is the critical decade in which to act with urgency. Next month’s UN Climate Change Conference – COP26 – will be a pivotal moment in the global response to climate change.

On Tuesday 13th October 2020, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology put out a media release ‘Tropical Cyclone seasonal outlook for The Coral Sea’ in which it was acknowledged that, and I quote: "Recent decades have seen a decline in the number of tropical cyclones in our region."

Bureau climatologist, Greg Browning, went on to explain that this summer is likely to buck that trend, and that: "On average Australia sees 9 to 11 tropical cyclones each year, with 4 crossing the coast."

Cyclones can be devastating to coral reefs. Huge waves pound relentlessly smashing branching and fan corals. Sponges and squirts are upended. Massive Porites can be lifted and thrown metres – sometimes beyond the reef proper and onto the beach.

Given the Great Barrier Reef, as one ecosystem comprising nearly 3,000 individual reefs stretching for more than 2,000 kilometres, cyclone damaged areas can almost always be found somewhere. A coral reef that is mature and spectacular today, may be smashed by a cyclone tomorrow. So, I’m always in a hurry to visit my next reef particularly given all the modelling suggesting an inevitable increase in the number of cyclones and an inevitable decline in coral cover.


The 2020–21 Australian region cyclone season was another ‘below average’ season, producing a total of just 8 tropical cyclones with just 3 of these categorised as severe. So since records began it is a case of less cyclones and less severe cyclones which must be good for the corals.

The Bureau has not updated this chart since the 2016/2017 season. The trend continues a downward trajectory with just 8 tropical cyclones last season (2020/2021) with 3 categorised as severe.

Perhaps not surprisingly we are also seeing an increase in coral cover, and this is exactly what the latest report from the Australian Institute of Marine Science concludes. According to their Long-Term Monitoring Program (LTMP) based on surveys of 127 reefs conducted between August 2020 and April 2021, and I quote: "In 2021, widespread recovery was underway, largely due to increases in fast growing Acropora corals.

Survey reefs experienced low levels of acute stressors over the past 12 months with no prolonged high temperatures or major cyclones. Numbers of outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish on survey reefs have generally decreased; however, there remain ongoing outbreaks on some reefs in the Southern GBR.

On the Northern GBR, region-wide hard coral cover was moderate and had continued to increase to 27% from the most recent low point in 2017.

On the Central GBR region-wide hard coral cover was moderate and had increased to 26% in 2021.

Region-wide hard coral cover on reefs in the Southern GBR was high and had increased to 39% in 2021."

More information at

Meanwhile former US President Barack Obama – who has never ever actually visited the Great Barrier Reef – confirmed he will attend the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow. He is apparently meeting young climate change activists and highlighting their work around the world. I’m wondering when he will bring them to see the corals. The closest he has got, so far, is to Brisbane back in November 2014. He gave a speech at my old university lamenting the parlous state of the corals and claiming he wanted to take his daughters to see the corals before they were all gone.

But. We are still waiting. As far as I can tell, like Malcolm Turnbull, Barack Obama frightens the children about that which they have never actually seen or experienced with his own eyes – and with opinion that often does not even accord with the available statistics.

Former US President Bill Clinton hasn’t made it to Glasgow, but he did visit the Great Barrier Reef back in November 1996. He apparently spent a short hour snorkelling at a reef off Port Douglas.

If I didn’t know something about the scientific method, greenhouse gases, the Great Barrier Reef, and that foundation, I would be inclined to believe there was a crisis – and that there really was something I should do about it. As it is, I know that coral bleaching occurs as part of a natural cycle that will repeat irrespective of any agreements made in Glasgow. I also know as fact that there has been no increase in the incidence of cyclones and that coral cover is good and improving. It is also fact that coral reefs would benefit if there was rising sea levels because they could keep growing-up and also that they grow faster as sea temperatures increase.

Did you know that there are arguably more colourful corals and even better coral cover in waters just a few degrees warmers? The warmer waters are just to the north of Australia around New Guinea and Indonesia.


Pfizer linked to 18 new cases of heart inflammation in Australia

The number of cases of heart inflammation in Australia linked to the Pfizer vaccine has risen to 253 from about 21.9 million doses.

There were 18 new likely cases of myocarditis in the past week, a condition that sees patients experience chest pain, abnormal heartbeat and shortness of breath.

One new blood clots case linked to the AstraZeneca jab was also recorded, taking the total to 158 cases and nine deaths in Australia from about 13.1 million doses. The confirmed case involved a 40-year-old man from NSW.

The figure was released in the Therapeutic Goods Administration Covid-19 vaccine weekly safety report on Thursday afternoon.

The youngest case classified as ‘likely myocarditis’ to date was 12 years old.

Of the cases classified as likely to be myocarditis, most of the patients experienced symptoms within three days of vaccination.

Around half of the patients were admitted to hospital with eight treated in intensive care. Most patients treated in hospital were discharged within four days.

The TGA says “the estimated reporting rates in Australia appear similar to overseas rates.”

“As we have received limited adverse event reports for Spikevax (Moderna), our analysis of likely myocarditis cases focuses on data for the Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine,” the medicines regulator said.

In Australia, myocarditis is reported in nearly one out of every 100,000 people after receiving the Pfizer vaccine. While it is more commonly reported in young men and teenage boys after the second dose (6.7 cases in 100,000 people) it remains rare.

Cases usually occur within 10 days and resolve after a few days following treatment and rest.

The TGA advises people to seek medical attention if they experience symptoms that could suggest myocarditis or pericarditis.

This includes: chest pain, palpitations (irregular heartbeat), fainting or shortness of breath, particularly if they occur within one to five days of vaccination.

“ATAGI advises that people who develop myocarditis or pericarditis attributed to their first dose of Comirnaty (Pfizer) should defer further doses of an mRNA Covid-19 vaccine and discuss this with their treating doctor,” the TGA says.


Push for school kids to sing national anthem daily

Queensland students would be made to sing Advance Australia Fair at the start of every school day under a plan put forward by the LNP rank-and-file, in a bid to foster “national identity” in younger generations.

LNP members, at the party’s state council meeting in Gladstone on Saturday, supported calls for the state Opposition to “adopt a policy that would mandate the singing of the National Anthem at the beginning of the school day for all schools”.

Former state candidate Pinky Singh argued singing the anthem each day would foster unity, regardless of a student’s race or religion.

Maroochydore MP Fiona Simpson, who led the singing of the anthem at the meeting earlier in the day, said if children didn’t learn to embrace the importance of the national anthem in school they wouldn’t understand it when they left.

She said she had been “surprised” to learn that a small number of schools never sing the national anthem.

“We must ensure our children understand how important it is as part of their national identity and then grow that as citizens,” Ms Simpson said.

Meanwhile, a number of federal LNP candidates and incumbents were formally ratified ahead of the looming election.

This included Henry Pike for Bowman and Olivia Roberts for the South Brisbane seat of Griffith, currently held by Labor.

Ms Roberts ran for the LNP in the same seat at the 2019 election and picked up 40 per cent of first preferences — though this was not enough to win in a three-horse race which included a leap in support for The Greens.

The LNP secretariat could be heading into the campaign cycle with a freshly minted state secretary, following the departure of Tony Eyres.

President Lawrence Springborg confirmed the party was in the process of a nationwide recruitment process for the top ranking administrative position, with the aim of selecting someone “sometime in the early part of next year”.


Innocent politician run out of politics by fake news. Media complicit

It took police less than a day to clear an MP of upskirting claims, but that didn’t stop the Twitter mob, writes Des Houghton.

Quick quiz: What do Derryn Hinch, Sarah Hanson-Young, Murray Watt and a string of journalists, actors, bloggers, academics have in common?

They have all issued grovelling apologies to Andrew Laming, the federal member for the bayside electorate of Bowman that straddles Brisbane and Redlands.

The tone was set by a national political reporter who said: “In March 2021 I published tweets about Andrew Laming MP that referenced him taking a photo up a woman’s skirt.

“This was factually incorrect; the woman was not wearing a skirt. “I regret this error and unreservedly apologise to Andrew Laming for the hurt and distress I have caused him. I corrected it as soon as it was brought to my attention and have deleted the tweets.”

A university academic, who cares not for full stops, said: “Earlier in 2021 I published 2 tweets about Andrew Laming MP.
“I accept that the claims made about Mr Laming in those tweets were false & defamatory" “I unconditionally withdraw those claims and apologise to Andrew Laming for the hurt and offence caused to him by reason of my conduct”

More than a dozen media commentators and federal and state MPs issued apologies after they got concerns notices from gun defamation lawyer Rebekah Giles, who is acting for Laming.

Rebekah Giles is the lawyer who defended Christian Porter. A top company lawyer I know was almost quivering at the mention of her name. She is relentless.

A number of Facebook posts by Labor figures and a union group were also deleted.

There are two prominent people who deleted tweets without any apology that I know of. One was Senator Kristina Keneally, a former NSW Premier. And there are two members of the Queensland Parliament still under scrutiny for other comments they made on social media. One post, in my opinion, was an indirect smear on Laming’s character.

The affair began innocently enough when Laming went to the bayside landscape supplier Nuway at Thornlands on December 18, 2019, to buy some river stones for a heritage property he was restoring.

In what appears to me to be an unremarkable act, Laming, took a photograph of a young woman on bended knee putting cans of soft drink in a small bar fridge on the floor. She was “crouching” not bending over, and she was not showing underwear or revealing a G-string, as some reported.

I know this because I have copies of the pages of Det Sen Sgt Mat Wickson’s notebook, where he says in his own hand that the woman was wearing work shorts and a work shirt with long socks and work boots.

Wickson described the shorts as “ruggers”. He said she wore her polo shirt out, over her work shorts. So, any suggestion her underwear was visible was incorrect. The copper’s notes also confirm that Laming’s picture was a general one of the workplace taken at normal zoom.

I’ve decided not to name the woman here. She must be sick of it all by now.

I do know it is not unusual for politicians of all persuasions to photograph people they meet and post them on Facebook.

On that fateful day he went to buy the stones, Laming even had a conversation with the woman about her future, and she later befriended him on Facebook.

Laming was officially cleared by police in less than a day. Yet the media tsunami was unstoppable.

I’ve been pounding the keyboard for more than 50 years and can honestly say I cannot remember a case where the commentators got it so wrong.

The cold hard truth for all of us in the media is that Laming was bullied out of office by fake news.

Journalism is in a bad place when it stoops to reporting allegations aired on social media.

Radio, TV and print media were in a frenzy and there was even a rally outside Laming’s Cleveland office with Labor’s rent-a-crowd holding up insulting signs.

Laming was even criticised by his own side, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison also weighing in to condemn him before he was fully apprised of the facts. ScoMo had done another Holgate. From that time on Laming’s political future was untenable.

Then Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese called him a creep.

Laming remains an MP but will exit office the day the election is called.

Laming has already had a significant victory in the battle to clear his name after Twitter attacks by high-profile ABC journalist Louise Milligan.

Milligan posted multiple tweets which Laming alleged “irrevocably damaged his personal and professional reputation”.

ABC managing director David Anderson said at parliamentary Estimates hearings that ABC paid $79,000 in damages to Dr Laming plus $45,000 for his legal costs. The ABC’s costs were $168,000, and rising.

But the drama is far from over. Laming is suing Channel 9, the original publisher of the accusations. In court documents, Dr Laming’s lawyers say he has “suffered substantial hurt, distress and embarrassment”.

Laming is seeking damages, interest and costs, as well as an order that Nine be permanently restrained from repeating such claims in the future.

It’s destined to be a landmark case for journalism that may run right up to next year’s election.




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