Bramston Reef Corals – The Other Side of the Mud Flat

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

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Reposted from Jennifer Marohasy’s blog

May 6, 2019 By jennifer

THE First Finding handed down by Judge Salvador Vasta in the Peter Ridd court case concerned Bramston reef off Bowen and a photograph taken in 1994 that Terry Hughes from James Cook University has been claiming proves Acropora corals that were alive in 1890 are now all dead – the fringing reef reduced to mudflat.

Meanwhile, Peter Ridd from the same university, had photographs taken in 2015 showing live Acropora and the need for quality assurance of Hughes’ claims.

Both sides were preparing evidence for over a year – with the lawyers apparently pocketing in excess of one million dollars – yet there was no interest in an independent assessment of the state of Bramston reef.

It more than once crossed my mind, that with all the money floating around for reef research and lawyers … there could perhaps be some mapping, or just one transect, at this most contentious of locations supposedly indicative of the state of the Great Barrier Reef more generally.

In his judgment Judge Salvadore Vasta was left to simply conclude that it was unclear whether there was now mudflat or coral reef where an extensive area of Acropora coral had been photographed back in 1890, but that Peter Ridd nevertheless had the right to ask the question.

Indeed, the court case and the appeal which must be lodged by tomorrow (Tuesday 7th May), is apparently all about ‘academic freedom’ and ‘employment law’, while the average Australian would perhaps be more likely to care if they got to see some coral and some fish – dead or alive.

I visited Bramston Reef over Easter because I couldn’t wait any longer to know if the corals in Peter Ridd’s 2015 photographs had been smashed by Cyclone Debbie that hovered over Bowen two years later, in April 2017.

As I drove into Bowen, I took a detour towards Edgecombe Bay, but I didn’t stop and explore – because I saw the signage warning of crocodiles.

Peter Ridd had told me that his technicians had approached from the south south-east in a rubber dinghy to get their photographs. The day I arrived (April 18, 2019), and the next, there was a strong south south-easterly wind blowing, and no-one prepared to launch a boat to take me out.

On the afternoon of Easter Friday – ignoring the signage warning of crocodiles – I walked through the mangroves to the water’s edge. I found the mudflat which Terry Hughes had claimed now covers once healthy Acropora coral and walked across it. The other side of the mudflat there was reef flat with beds of healthy Halimeda. This area of reef flat over sand extended for nearly one kilometre – before it gave way to hectares of Acropora coral.

Professor Hughes had just not walked far enough.

When, with much excitement, I showed my photographs of all the Acropora to a Bowen local. He described them as, “rubbish corals”. He seemed ashamed that the corals I had photographed at Bramston reef were not colourful.

For a coral to make the front cover of National Geographic it does need to be exceptionally colourful. Indeed, for a woman model to make the cover of Vogue magazine she needs to be exceptionally thin. But neither thin, nor colourful, is necessarily healthy. Indeed, Acropora corals are generally tan or brown in colour when they have masses of zooxanthellae and are thus growing quickly – and are healthy.

White corals have no zooxanthellae and are often dead, because they have been exposed to temperatures that are too high. Colourful corals, like thin women, are more nutrient starved and often exist in environments of intense illumination – existing near the limits of what might be considered healthy.

Such basic facts are not well understood. Instead there is an obsession with saving the Great Barrier Reef from imminent catastrophe while we are either shown pictures of bleached white dead coral, or spectacularly colourful corals from outer reefs in nutrient-starved waters … while thousands of square kilometres of healthy brown coral is ignored.

Peter Ridd did win his high-profile court case for the right to suggest there is a need for some quality assurance of the research – but I can’t see anyone getting on with this. The Science Show on our National Broadcaster, hosted by a most acclaimed scientist journalist, has reported on the case just this last weekend. Rather than launching a dinghy and having a look at Bramston Reef, Robyn Williams has replayed part of a 2008 interview with Peter Ridd, and let it be concluded that because Peter Ridd holds a minority view he is likely wrong.

Understanding the real state of the Great Barrier Reef is not a trivial question: it has implications for tourism, and the allocation of billions of dollars of public monies … with most currently allocated to those properly networked – but not necessarily knowledgeable or prepared to walk beyond a mudflat to find the corals.

Signage warning of crocodiles.

Signage warning of crocodiles.

Photographs of the Acropora out of the water where taken about here.

Photographs of the Acropora out of the water where taken about here

There is a mudflat to the west of Bramston Reef.

There is a mudflat to the west of Bramston Reef.

That mudflat is teeming with life, as expected in an intertidal zone.

That mudflat is teeming with life, as expected in an intertidal zone.

This Porites coral is a healthy tan colour.

This Porites coral is a healthy tan colour.

After the mud flat there was reef flat, with coarse sand and lots of Halimeda. All healthy, and typical of an inner Great Barrier Reef.

After the mud flat there was reef flat, with coarse sand and lots of Halimeda. All healthy, and typical of an inner Great Barrier Reef.

Halimeda is a green macroalgae, it was healthy.

Halimeda is a green macroalgae, it was healthy.

Acropora corals with a view to Gloucester Island.

I did find one bleached coral.

I did find one bleached coral.

Most of the Acropora was a healthy brown colour suggesting good growth, rather than beauty.

Most of the Acropora was a healthy brown colour suggesting good growth, rather than beauty.

There were also corals to the south east.

There were also corals to the south east.

Looking across to Gloucester Island, in front of the mangroves when the tide was in, early on 19 April.

Looking across to Gloucester Island, in front of the mangroves when the tide was in, early on 19 April.

Looking towards Gloucester Island, the day before.

Looking towards Gloucester Island, the day before.

To be sure to know when I post pictures at this blog, and to get the latest news regarding the Peter Ridd court case including the possible appeal by James Cook University, subscribe for my irregular email updates.

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Peter Ridd: Crying Wolf Over The Great Barrier Reef

NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

By Paul Homewood

From GWPF:

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Scientists from James Cook University have just published a paper on the bleaching and death of corals on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and were surprised that the death rate was less than they expected because of the adaptability of corals to changing temperatures. It appears as though they exaggerated their original claims and are quietly backtracking. To misquote Oscar Wilde, to exaggerate once is a misfortune, to do it twice looks like carelessness, but to do it repeatedly looks like unforgivable systemic unreliability by some of our major science organisations.

It is a well-known phenomenon that corals can adapt very rapidly to high temperatures and that if you heat corals in one year, they tend to be less susceptible in future years to overheating. It is the reason why corals are one of the least likely species to be affected by climate change, irrespective…

View original post 800 more words

Cliff Mass: victim of academic political bullying

Climate Etc.

by Judith Curry

There is a disturbing story coming out of the University of Washington surrounding Cliff Mass.

View original post 2,520 more words

Arizona Appellate Court decides Hockey Stick emails must be released

Press Release from FME Law
July 3, 2018

Arizona Appellate Court Decides Hockey Stick Emails Must Be Released Despite the University’s Appeal.

One thousand seven hundred and sixty-three days ago, on behalf of its client, the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic, PLLC (FME Law) asked the University of Arizona to hand over public records that would expose to the world the genesis of what some consider the most influential scientific publication of that decade – the Mann-Bradley-Hughes temperature reconstruction that looks like a hockey stick.

The University refused.

On February 26th of this year, and after submissions of legal briefings that now fill two banker’s boxes, and three trips to the Appellate Court, the trial court ordered release of the documents, giving the University 90 days to disclose the documents in a word-searchable form. Three days before the deadline, the University filed a motion asking the trial court to “stay” the disclosure of the public records while they appealed the case. In a 13 word decision, the trial court found “the requested relief is not warranted.”

The University then asked the Appellate Court for a stay, arguing that once the documents were released, “that genie could not be put back in the bottle,” in the event the trial court’s decision was reversed.

Yesterday, a mere six days after filing of the final legal brief on the motion for a stay, the Appellate Court issued a seven-word decision:

“Motion for Stay Pending Appeal is DENIED.”

The Appellate Court gave no explanation as to why it denied its motion, but it would likely be one of the reasons offered by FME Law in its brief to the court. A Copy of that brief is attached to this news release. Among other things, this order means the Appellate Court could not conclude that the University would have probable success on the merits of their argument. Nor could they conclude there were “serious questions” remaining to be addressed.

“This decision by the Appellate Court is much more than a small procedural action,” said Dr. David Schnare, the member-manager of the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic, PLLC, who is prosecuting this case. “We asked for the full history of the hockey stick graph and much more. We sought the history of the fourth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report and the discussions among the scientists as they discussed climate papers and the then burgeoning antagonism between climate scientists not of like mind.” Chaim Mandelbaum, Executive Director of FME Law explains, “This case is not over, but we appear to be at the beginning of the end.”

The University may wish to now appeal to the Arizona

Supreme Court for a stay, an effort attorneys familiar with the case believe would not change the outcome. “This decision does not end the appeal, however,” Mr. Mandelbaum stated.

Dr. Schnare described the status of this case and its importance. “We did not take this case only to obtain the history of a very controversial period of time in the climate wars. We also took this case to cast sunlight on how public universities work, how they contribute to the formation of public policy, and how professors behave within the policy arena. Core legal issues remain before the court – particularly about how to protect the research process while still allowing the public to learn how this sector of the government works. The University’s appellate brief is due on July 30th, our answering brief is due on September 7th and any reply from the University comes after that. We won’t have a final appeals court decision on the merits of this case until late in the year, and then it will be on to the Arizona Supreme Court.”

In the meantime, the documents will have to be handed over. Dr. Schnare and his staff will take the first look at those documents. With a doctorate in environmental management and decades of experience in policy formation, he, with the assistance of FME Law staff, will sort these documents, organize them for use by the public and prepare a report on what they contain – so to speak, a chronical of that historic time, based not on cherry picked emails but on the full history as available in the public record. They will then turn over the public records and their report to their client who is expected to make them available to the public.


FME Law is a 501(c)(3) public charity dedicated to be an honest, pro-environmental legal presence that represents clients seeking to hold state and federal governments to the ethical and legal requirements that protect and enhance free market environmentalism. For further information, Contact Chaim Mandelbaum (703) 577-9973, Executive Director of FME Law; or, Dr. Schnare (571) 243-7975, Member-Manager of FME Law, PLLC.

 

PDF Attachment: PR and court decision: FME Law Press Release July 3, 2018