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.

More Evidence for Rapid Coral Adaptation

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

By Jim Steele

Good news continues to accumulate regards corals’ ability to rapidly adjust to changing climates. The view of coral resilience has been dominated by the narrative of a few scientists. In the 1990s they advocated devastating consequences for coral reefs due to global warming, arguing coral cannot adapt quickly enough. Since the Little Ice Age ended, they believed rising ocean temperatures had brought coral closer to a “bleaching threshold”, a more or less fixed upper temperature limit above which corals cannot survive. Their model predicted the speed of recent global warming “spells catastrophe for tropical marine ecosystems everywhere”. Their assertions that “as much as 95% of the world’s coral may be in danger of being lost by mid-century” was guaranteed to capture headlines and instill public fear. However, a growing body of scientific research increasingly casts doubts on such alarming predictions. Unfortunately, that good news gets much less attention.

A recent peer-reviewed paper titled A Global Analysis of Coral Bleaching Over the Past Two Decades (Sully 2019) compared 20 years of ocean temperatures at which coral bleaching was initiated. From 1998 to 2006, the average sea surface temperature that initiated bleaching was 82.6 °F. But that temperature limit proves not to be “fixed” as earlier researchers incorrectly believed. From 2007 to 2017 the average temperature limit that initiated bleaching was higher, 83.7 °F. This indicates coral have been rapidly adapting to warmer regional climates much faster than once believed.

Based on these new observations the scientists concluded, “past bleaching events may have culled the thermally susceptible individuals, resulting in a recent adjustment of the remaining coral populations to higher thresholds of bleaching temperatures.” Furthermore, they suggested, “Localities that commonly experience large daily, weekly, or seasonal SST ranges [Sea Surface Temperature] may harbor corals, and strains of coral symbionts, that are more resistant to SST extremes.”

Other studies also observed similar rapid adaptations. Studies in Indonesian waters determined that two coral species, both highly susceptible to bleaching, had experienced 94% and 87% colony deaths during the 1998 El Nino. Yet those same species were among the least susceptible to bleaching in the 2010 El Nino despite a similar increase in water temperatures with only 5% and 12% colony deaths.

In the context of coral evolution over thousands and millions of years, such rapid adaptation was suspected by many scientists. After all, none of the coral reefs we observe today, that depend on symbiotic algae, existed 18,000 years ago. The last Ice Age Maximum lowered sea level by 400 feet, killing all coral above those depths. As ice sheets melted, oceans warmed, sea levels rose, and coral rapidly adapted to those ever-changing conditions. More recently, estimates of ocean temperatures just 3000 to 5000 years ago range from 1.8°F to 9°F warmer than today. And clearly those warmer temperatures did not result in massive coral extirpations, thus casting further doubt on predictions of massive coral deaths by 2050. Evidence of bleaching thousands of years ago also reveals it is not just a recent phenomenon.

Studies of coral reefs that existed thousands and millions of years ago, find the lowest extinction rates occurred in the warmest tropics. Sully 2019 similarly found “coral bleaching was less common in the equatorial regions.” In contrast to earlier “models that predict minimal coral survival in the tropical oceans within the next 100 years, recent field work shows considerable geographic variability in both temperature stress and coral survival”. Thus, they argue there is an “urgent need to develop better models” to more accurately predict coral bleaching.

Sully 2019 hypothesized “localities that commonly experience large daily, weekly, or seasonal SST ranges may harbor corals, and strains of coral symbionts [symbiotic partners], that are more resistant to SST extremes.” Increased resilience to a variety of bleaching events, whether induced by anomalous warmth or cold, prompted the Adaptive Bleaching Hypothesis first proposed in 1993. That hypothesis suggests that although bleaching events are a response to stress, by ejecting susceptible symbionts, coral create the potential to acquire totally new and different symbiotic partners that are better suited to new stressful conditions.  A broader analysis of the Adaptive Bleaching Hypothesis is discussed in the article “The Coral Bleaching Debate: Is Bleaching the Legacy of a Marvelous Adaptation Mechanism or A Prelude to Extirpation?

Because coral live in nutrient depleted environments, many species require single-celled photosynthesizing symbionts that typically provide ~90% of the coral’s energy needs. Just 40 years ago it was believed all corals were host to just one photosynthesizing symbiont. But thanks to technological advances in genetic sequencing, we now know a coral species can harbor several potential symbionts, each capable of responding optimally to a different set of environmental conditions. As predicted by the adaptive bleaching hypothesis, genetic techniques have now revealed a wondrously diverse community of symbionts with which coral can partner.

The more alarmist researchers had argued coral can only adapt very slowly over thousands of years via genetic mutation and natural selection. They incorrectly believed coral’s upper temperature limit is “fixed” for decades and centuries. But corals are now seen as an “eco-species” that can rapidly evolve and adapt to changing climates by expelling and acquiring new symbionts. Various symbionts enable various temperature tolerances.

To summarize Sully 2019, they found:

1. Coral now require higher ocean temperatures to bleach than the temperatures that caused bleaching a decade ago. This suggests rapid coral adaptation.

2. Coral bleaching was significantly lower in localities with a high variance in temperature anomalies. Localities with high variability likely maintain a wide variety of symbionts and coral genotypes.

3. There has been no universal response to global warming. Despite similar changes in temperature, bleaching was much less likely in equatorial region where coral diversity was highest.

4. Rapid changes in temperature can result in more bleaching, but the causes of rapid temperature change, such as an El Nino, were not analyzed.

Unfortunately, the last sentence in Sully 2019, reveals how some editors and journals are politicizing the science, and downplaying any optimism. Sully 2019’s last sentence read “immediate action globally to reduce carbon emissions is necessary to avoid further declines of coral reefs.” But Sully 2019’s research never tested or analyzed the effects of CO2 on temperature and bleaching. Their research only revealed resilience and rapid adaptation to warming, whether that warming was natural or CO2 induced. Furthermore, their research reported susceptibility to bleaching varied over time and location and did not detect a CO2 fingerprint. Their research did not determine whether rapid changes in regional ocean temperature were caused by changes in El Nino, shifting ocean currents, changes in upwelling, cloud cover or CO2 concentrations. In the past, honest and objective scientific journals restricted comments to conclusions based on the author’s actual research.

Over the years I have had several researchers thank me for posting information in my blogs that their editors had not allowed. They tell me editors have insisted on more catastrophic CO2-biased conclusions in order for them to publish. We also know from published emails that alarmist scientists like Michael Mann and Kevin Trenberth have actively “persuaded” journal editors, via bullying or other means, to obstruct publication of any skeptical scientific research that undermines Mann’s and Trenberth’s dire predictions. Sully’s CO2-alarmist, non-sequitur closing sentence is most certainly the fingerprint of another such enforced distortion that is now being superimposed on otherwise objective science.

Jim Steele is retired director of the Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University

 

Dr. Peter Ridd vs. James Cook University – Arguments Completed

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

Professor Peter Ridd writes:

We finally got home from Brisbane where the court hearing was held about 1200 km to the south, and it has been good to reflect on events. I am very hopeful and Judge Vasta seemed to indicate that he would try to hand down his judgement around Easter. So, until then we should wait and see.

As mentioned, the case delivered by Stuart Wood QC was brilliant. He did not focus on legal technicalities but instead concentrated on the concept of Intellectual Freedom. This was a very deliberate decision – if we are to win, it had to be on this point because in the end this was the root cause of the problem and the reason that there was wide public interest. Academics with controversial ideas on anything, including climate change and whether the damage to the Great Barrier Reef is being exaggerated, should be allowed to speak. In fact, they should be encouraged to speak. In addition, the focus on the wider problem might mean that the final judgement will have broader implications to the way our universities operate.

We contend that I had my Intellectual Freedom taken away under the context of a vague Code of Conduct. Stuart Wood QC argued how this was legally in error. He also demonstrated how this was totally contrary to the way a university should work. One of many highlights was when Wood QC used the JCU barristers’ own words that described my offending comments as “inappropriate” to show how the Code of Conduct could restrict any controversial comment. Who decides if my words are inappropriate – the university. “Inappropriate” sets a very low bar and a sensible academic knows that the best strategy is to either say nothing or make sure it is in agreement with the university administration – i.e. there is no freedom. By the Code of Conduct, a challenge as insignificant as a nasty look or a steely glare could be defined as a breach. And by JCU’s construction, the intellectual freedom clauses in our work contract are no protection.

Wood QC started with a discussion of the centrality of debate and disagreement in the rise of western civilisation and science. He quoted interesting examples of famous debates, which if they had occurred today at JCU and most other universities, would have resulted in both sides of the debate being fired for breaking what boils down to the Code-of-Politeness- Political-Correctness-and-What-the-University-Administration-Decides.
I must get a full transcript of Wood’s address for more detail but he then narrowed down to the specifics of my misdemeanours. These boiled down to 9 main categories and Wood took his time on each one. He gave the background and context, he looked at the detailed evidence (generally email trails from JCU’s search-for-dirt), and then demonstrated how in every case the University had broken its obligation to intellectual Freedom.

Wood QC finally considered the confidentiality directions that JCU used to try to keep everything secret and considered the clause in my work contract that was there to protect me against JCU releasing my information without my consent. This was completely opposite to JCU’s interpretation which was that it ALWAYS gave them the power to ALWAYs keep matters secret. One has to wonder why they are so ashamed that they needed to keep it secret.

The way the legal team worked was remarkable. Wood QC is by general agreement the top Industrial Relations lawyer in Australia and he had two barristers and two solicitors backing him up and feeding him the documents as he talked. He spoke non-stop for 4 hours in the final afternoon and it was like watching the reloading and firing of a 15 inch naval gun at the JCU ship. It was withering, relentless, and merciless. I wish there was a video of it. In my opinion, and let’s hope the Judge agrees, by the time he had finished JCU’s position was a sinking hulk. I felt sorry for their barristers (but maybe they will have the last laugh)

In the final analysis this case will be decided on whether the Code of Conduct trumps Intellectual Freedom or vice-versa. If JCU is correct, then it can no longer be considered to be a proper university and the government will have to do something about the way universities are governed and funded. If we are right, we will have to then look at how similar work contracts are likely being misused in most other Australian universities, and I suspect, around the western world.


John Roskam explains why Dr Peter Ridd deserves to continue his vital work at JCU and what JCU are costing themselves and Australia with their actions. WATCH:

Blowing the whistle on the climate of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

A brief overview of on-going climate research.

by Dr. Bill Johnston

Background

Australian taxpayers spend inordinate amounts of money each year on “saving” the Great Barrier Reef and to keep the bucket brimming with cash there is little wonder that the myriad of organizations involved want careful control over the spin and the people who do the work. The dust-up between Peter Ridd and James Cook University (JCU) is a case-in-point.

The Reef is indeed wonderful, big, can be seen from space; its worth this much or that depending on how its counted and of-course the bigger the better and therefore whatever they spend is an ‘investment for future generations’ … And JCU defends “Peter’s right to make statements in his area of academic expertise …”; except of course doubts he may have about other researchers’ research (otherwise known as the failing-to-act-in-a-collegial-way-and-in-the- academic-spirit-of-the-institution gotya). It does not help that with 15 coauthors, the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies Professor Terry Hughes makes the ambit claim that “Global warming is rapidly emerging as a universal threat …to the long term future of these iconic ecosystems” in the prestigious journal Nature (http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0041-2); especially if it isn’t true.

The Number-1 problem faced by the Reef

The biggest problem faced by the Reef in the 21st century is the feeding-frenzy resulting from too much money being flung at too many institutions all [peddling] their own exaggerated versions of catastrophe so they can demand more money and thus keep the gravy train puffing along. The players have habits to support – boards, over-paid vice chancellors and professors; administrators of this and that, travel budgets, meetings, multiple media-teams etc. all of which are proportionally paid-for from the Australian Research Council’s cash-for-science bucket. For every dollar that actually lands on the Reef, three or four dollars or more is likely to be swallowed by such overheads. Then there are the well-organised and well-funded climate drum-beaters like WWF, Nature Australia, GetUp!, Greenpeace, the Climate Council and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition doom-merchants, who prey on vulnerable children who are integral to the success of the enterprise.

It follows that if 50% of the big-spenders were forced to find something more useful to do, the amount of research done on the Reef could double or treble; alternatively, more could be spent on more pressing issues somewhere else. The question is, do the boards of the organizations, consisting mostly of lawyers, engineers, lobbyists, accountants and mates ever undertake due-diligence on their ‘brand’ or on the research they supposedly oversee?

As cause de jour for everything, climate change is looking very wobbly. Careful analysis cross-referenced by documents, plans and aerial photographs held by the National Library and National Archives of Australia shows that the Bureau of Meteorology has questions to answer about how data have been gamed to warm the climate. It is not feasible they can’t remember locations of the original Aeradio weather stations at Cairns, Townsville and Rockhampton and when they moved and changed. Rather than reciting untrue claims about climate warming to The Conversation, ABC and the Fairfax press, Blair Trewin et al. should front-up to taxpayers and explain how badly and why they got it so wrong. For their part, from CSIRO down, the good ol’ mates and fellows on flag-waving boards and in science institutes and academies have failed dismally to uphold their glossy governance statements. It is clear that scientists like Peter Ridd should be free to do their work without the burden of implied support for climate change, for which there is no evidence in any Australian weather station dataset. It’s also valid for scientists of Peter’s standing and repute to call out peers doing poor or shifty work especially where the hierarchy is more protective of their brand-and-gravy than they are concerned about excellence in science.

Behind the closed doors of political correctness and vested interests, Australian science has lost its way and it’s a hideous situation that taxpayers are constantly misinformed and manipulated by organizations they once held in high-regard. Despite the Bureau’s best efforts, including deliberate bias (https://s3.amazonaws.com/jo.nova/guest/aust/bom-audit/johnston-bill/2018/bourke/back-of-bourke-v1.3_10.pdf), there is no evidence the climate has changed or warmed or that climatic extremes are increasing. Except in fluffy-duck-science stories based on modelling, which are mainly perpetuated by competing doomsayers and institutional catastrophists via the left wing press; neither the Reef nor the Murray-Darling Basin are or have been under threat from climate warming.

Temperature across Australia are being reported as getting warmer because in November 1996 the Bureau changed to networked automatic weather stations, and over the ensuing 2 decades sacked their trusty observers and reduced the size of instrument shelters (Stevenson screens) from 230 to 60-litres. Without even considering site biases (obvious in time-lapse Google Earth Pro satellite images) unattended small screens beside dusty tracks and at airports are biased-high from accumulated grime. Biased data that changes the colour of summer from red to purple looks scary, but doesn’t change the climate.

Pushed from the top by CSIRO and the Australian Research Council’s money bucket and from the bottom by green groups; climate change is a billion-dollar scam the likes of which Australians have never experienced before. Chairman David Thodey who heads-up the CSIRO brand has no relevant scientific credentials (https://www.csiro.au/en/About/Leadership-governance/Minister-and-Board/Members), yet via silo-structures it is Thodey and his Board that oversees the Bureau and signs-off on “The State of the Climate”; “Climate change: Science and Solutions for Australia”; “Climate projections”; … “Climate Adaptation” ….. It is a problem that individual weather station data don’t support their rhetoric. Unlike Peter Ridd, Thodey didn’t have the spine to push back. He and his Board have allowed science to be hijacked for political purposes and the Great Barrier Reef gravy train is the product of that failure. Further, it’s well known that like JCU; within the Bureau and CSIRO, jobs are on the line for speaking-out.

In the name of ‘climate-justice and ‘climate-action’ and with a general election looming, it is time to put climate fallacies to bed so Australians can get on doing and making things that build wealth and contribute to the country’s future; and hopefully, so wannabe-politicians co-opted by vested interests like WWF don’t run amok and make decisions that affect everyone for all the wrong reasons.

Exemplified by Peter Ridd vs. JCU and for the sake of our nation’s future, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison should commit to an open inquiry into climate change including the role of the Bureau of Meteorology in creating trends and changes that don’t exist.


Here’s the backstory, complete with photos and diagrams:

GBR climate backstory_1.1

Coral Reefs in West Hawaiʽi Showing Signs of Recovery

From MauiNow.com:

January 22, 2019, 12:32 PM HST · Updated January 22, 12:32 PM

Nearly four years after the worst bleaching event in the state’s history, coral reefs in West Hawaiʽi are stabilizing and poised to recover, according to scientists from The Nature Conservancy.

Higher than usual ocean water temperatures in 2015 caused the first statewide coral bleaching event. TNC surveys revealed that an average of 60% of corals in West Hawaiʻi bleached, with some reefs experiencing up to 90% mortality. Corals bleach under stress, and severe or prolonged stress can lead to death.

For the last three years, TNC scientists have studied West Hawaiʻi’s coral reefs to identify the most resilient, meaning they can resist or recover from the stress of warmer ocean temperatures.

“Bleaching events like what occurred in 2015 can overstress a coral reef to the point where it may never recover,” said Dr. Eric Conklin, director of marine science for TNC’s Hawaiʻi program. “We surveyed over 14,000 coral colonies at 20 sites along the West Hawaiʻi coast from Kawaihae to Keauhou and were thrilled to see that many of the area’s reefs have stabilized, which is the first step toward recovery.”

Surveys showed that many of the most resilient reefs are in remote areas with limited shoreline access and exposure to human impacts. These reefs had lots of corals and little or no coral disease, and there was evidence that new corals were beginning to grow.

The least resilient sites all had multiple “stressors,” including fishing pressure, land-based pollutants and runoff. “Interestingly, the number of stressors affecting an area, not the severity of a single one, was the most important factor,” said Kim Hum, the Conservancy’s marine program director. “Reefs that are fighting the impacts of several stressors are more susceptible to temperature stress, making them more likely to bleach and less able to recover if they do.”

Surveys identified 25 coral species in West Hawaiʻi. Lobe coral (Porites lobata), one of the area’s most dominant species, proved to be the most resilient—with only 50% bleaching in 2015. Cauliflower corals (Pocillopora meandrina) were hardest hit—with 98% bleaching—but recent surveys show that they are beginning to recover.

“With more frequent and severe bleaching anticipated in the years ahead, there is a lot we need to do in West Hawaiʻi and across the state to minimize the impacts of a warming climate on our reefs,” Hum said. “We can make sure remote areas with few stressors stay that way, and we can reduce pressures from over-fishing, land-based pollutants and runoff in more populated areas.”

Currently, only 6% of State waters (out to three nautical miles) and 12% of nearshore waters (to a depth of 50 meters) have some form of management. To ensure the long-term health of Hawaiʻi’s coral reefs—and the food, jobs, and coastal protection they provide for Hawaiʻi’s residents—the State has committed to effectively manage 30% of the nearshore marine environment by 2030. The results of these surveys will help determine where and how to invest to ensure that Hawaiʻi’s most resilient reefs are protected.

Climate hysterics skyrocket

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

Increasingly absurd disaster rhetoric is consistently contradicted by climate and weather reality

Paul Driessen

Call it climate one-upmanship. It seems everyone has to outdo previous climate chaos rhetoric.

The “climate crisis” is the “existential threat of our time,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her House colleagues. We must “end the inaction and denial of science that threaten the planet and the future.”

Former California Governor Jerry Brown solemnly intoned that America has “an enemy, though different, but perhaps very much devastating in a similar way” as the Nazis in World War II.

Not to be outdone, two PhDs writing in Psychology Today declared that “the human race faces extinction” if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels. And yet “even people who experience extreme weather events often still refuse to report the experiences as a manifestation of climate change.” Psychologists, they lament, “have never had to face denial on this scale before.”

Then there’s Oxford University doctoral candidate Samuel Miller-McDonald. He’s convinced the only thing that could save people and planet from cataclysmic climate change is cataclysmic nuclear war that “shuts down the global economy but stops short of human extinction.”

All this headline-grabbing gloom and doom, however, is backed up by little more than computer models, obstinate assertions that the science is settled, and a steady litany of claims that temperatures, tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts et cetera are unprecedented, worse than ever before, and due to fossil fuels.

And on the basis of these hysterics, we are supposed to give up the carbon-based fuels that provide over 80% of US and global energy, gladly reduce our living standards – and put our jobs and economy at the mercy of expensive, unreliable, weather dependent, pseudo-renewable wind, solar and biofuel energy.

As in any civil or criminal trial, the burden of proof is on the accusers and prosecutors who want to sentence fossil fuels to oblivion. They need to provide more than blood-curdling charges, opening statements and summations. They need to provide convincing real-world evidence to prove their case.

They have refused to do so. They ignore the way rising atmospheric carbon-dioxide is spurring plant growth and greening the planet. They blame every extreme weather event on fossil fuel emissions, but cannot explain the Medieval Warm Period, Little Ice Age or extreme weather events decades or centuries ago – or why we have had fewer extreme weather events in recent decades. They simply resort to trial in media and other forums where they can exclude exculpatory evidence, bar any case for the fossil fuel defense, and prevent any cross-examination of their witnesses, assertions and make-believe evidence.

Climate models are not evidence. At best, they offer scenarios of what might happen if the assumptions on which they are based turn out to be correct. However, the average prediction by 102 models is now a full degree F (0.55 C) above what satellites are actually measuring. Models that cannot be confirmed by actual observations are of little value and certainly should not be a basis for vital energy policy making.

The alarmist mantra seems to be: If models and reality don’t agree, reality must be wrong.

In fact, even as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels climbed to 405 parts per million (0.0405% of Earth’s atmosphere), except for short-term temperature spikes during El Niño ocean warming events, there has been very little planetary warming since 1998; nothing to suggest chaos or runaway temperatures.

Claims that tornadoes have gotten more frequent and intense are obliterated by actual evidence. NOAA records show that from 1954 to 1985 an average of 56 F3 to F5 tornadoes struck the USA each year – but from 1985 to 2017 there were only 34 per year on average. And in 2018, for the first time in modern history, not a single “violent” twister touched down in the United States.

Harvey was the first major (category 3-5) hurricane to make US landfall in a record twelve years. The previous record was nine years, set in the 1860s. (If rising CO2 levels are to blame for Harvey, Irma and other extreme weather events, shouldn’t they also be credited for this hurricane drought?)

Droughts differ little from historic trends and cycles – and the Dust Bowl, Anasazi and Mayan droughts, and other ancient dry spells were long and destructive. Moreover, modern agricultural and drip irrigation technologies enable farmers to deal with droughts far better than they ever could in the past.

Forest fires are fewer than in the recent past – and largely due to failure to remove hundreds of millions of dead and diseased trees that provide ready tinder for massive conflagrations.

Arctic and Antarctic ice are largely within “normal” or “cyclical” levels for the past several centuries – and snow surface temperatures in the East Antarctic Plateau regularly reach -90 °C (-130 F) or lower. Average Antarctic temperatures would have to rise some 20-85 degrees F year-round for all its land ice to melt and cause oceans to rise at faster than their current 7-12 inches per century pace.

In fact, the world’s oceans have risen over 400 feet since the last Pleistocene glaciers melted. (That’s how much water those mile-high Ice Age glaciers took out of the oceans!) Sea level rise paused during the Little Ice Age but kicked in again the past century or so. Meanwhile, retreating glaciers reveal long-lost forests, coins, corpses and other artifacts – proving those glaciers have come and gone many times.

Pacific islands will not be covered by rising seas anytime soon, at 7-12 inches per century, and because corals and atolls grow as seas rise. Land subsidence also plays a big role in perceived sea level rise – and US naval bases are safe from sea level rise, though maybe not from local land subsidence.

The Washington Post did report that “the Arctic Ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer, and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot.” But that was in 1922.

Moreover, explorers wrote about the cyclical absence of Arctic ice long before that. “We were astonished by the total absence of ice in Barrow Strait,” Sir Francis McClintock wrote in 1860. “I was here at this time in [mid] 1854 – still frozen up – and doubts were entertained as to the possibility of escape.”

Coral bleaching? That too has many causes – few having anything to do with manmade global warming – and the reefs generally return quickly to their former glory as corals adopt new zooxanthellae.

On and on it goes – with more scare stories daily, more attempts to blame humans and fossil fuels for nearly every interesting or as-yet-unexplained natural phenomenon, weather event or climate fluctuation. And yet countering the manmade climate apocalypse narrative is increasingly difficult – in large part because the $2-trillion-per-year climate “science” and “renewable” energy industry works vigorously to suppress such evidence and discussion … and is aided and abetted by its media and political allies.

Thus we have Chuck Todd, who brought an entire panel of alarmist climate “experts” to a recent episode of Meet the Press. He helped them expound ad nauseam on the alleged “existential threat of our time” – but made it clear that he was not going to give even one minute to experts on the other side.

“We’re not going to debate climate change, the existence of it,” Todd proclaimed. “The Earth is getting hotter. And human activity is a major cause, period. We’re not going to give time to climate deniers. The science is settled, even if political opinion is not.” The only thing left to discuss, from their perspective was “solutions” – most of which would hugely benefit them and their cohorts, politically and financially.

Regular folks in developed and developing countries alike see this politicized, money-driven kangaroo court process for what it is. They also know that unproven, exaggerated and fabricated climate scares must be balanced against their having to give up (or never having) reliable, affordable fossil fuel energy. That is why we have “dangerous manmade climate change” denial on this scale.

That is why we must get the facts out by other means. It is why we must confront Congress, media people and the Trump Administration, and demand that they address these realities, hold debates, revisit the CO2 Endangerment Finding – and stop calling for an end to fossil fuels and modern living standards before we actually have an honest, robust assessment of supposedly “settled” climate science.

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and author of articles and books on energy, environmental and human rights issues.

Top 12 Debunked Climate Scares of 2018

Reblogged from Watts Up With That:

Reposted from The GWPF

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January 2018:  Worst-case global warming scenarios not credible: Study

PARIS (AFP) – Earth’s surface will almost certainly not warm up four or five degrees Celsius by 2100, according to a study released Wednesday (Jan 17) which, if correct, voids worst-case UN climate change predictions.

A revised calculation of how greenhouse gases drive up the planet’s temperature reduces the range of possible end-of-century outcomes by more than half, researchers said in the report, published in the journal Nature.

February:  ‘Sinking’ Pacific nation Tuvalu is actually getting bigger, new research reveals

The Pacific nation of Tuvalu — long seen as a prime candidate to disappear as climate change forces up sea levels — is actually growing in size, new research shows.

A University of Auckland study examined changes in the geography of Tuvalu’s nine atolls and 101 reef islands between 1971 and 2014, using aerial photographs and satellite imagery.

It found eight of the atolls and almost three-quarters of the islands grew during the study period, lifting Tuvalu’s total land area by 2.9 percent, even though sea levels in the country rose at twice the global average.

March: BBC forced to retract false claim about hurricanes

You may recall the above report by the BBC, which described how bad last year’s Atlantic hurricane season was, before commenting at the end: “A warmer world is bringing us a greater number of hurricanes and a greater risk of a hurricane becoming the most powerful category 5.I fired off a complaint, which at first they did their best to dodge. After my refusal to accept their reply, they have now been forced to back down

April: Corals can withstand another 100-250 Years of  climate change, new study

Heat-tolerant genes may spread through coral populations fast enough to give the marine creatures a tool to survive another 100-250 years of warming in our oceans.

May: Climate change causes beaches to grow by 3,660 square kilometers

Since 1984 humans have gushed forth 64% of our entire emissions from fossil fuels. (Fully 282,000 megatons of deplorable carbon “pollution”.) During this time, satellite images show that 24% of our beaches shrank, while 28% grew. Thus we can say that thanks to the carbon apocalypse there are 3,660 sq kms more global beaches now than there were thirty years ago.

June: Antarctica not losing ice, NASA researcher finds

NASA glaciologist Jay Zwally says his new study will show, once again, the eastern Antarctic ice sheet is gaining enough ice to offset losses in the west.

July: National Geographic admits they were wrong about notorious starving polar bear-climate claims

The narrative behind the viral photo of a polar bear starving, reportedly thanks to climate change, has been called into question by the National Geographic photographer who took it in the first place.

August: New study shows declining risk and increasing resilience to extreme weather in France

This risk factor for French residents of cities stricken by a disaster has been falling with every passing decade.

September: Coral bleaching is a natural event that has gone on for centuries, new study

Coral bleaching has been a regular feature of the Great Barrier Reef for the past 400 years, with evidence of repeated mass events dating back to well before Euro­pean settlement and the start of the industrial revolution.

October: Climate predictions could be wrong in UK and Europe

Current climate change predictions in the UK and parts of Europe may be inaccurate, a study conducted by researchers from the University of Lincoln, UK, and the University of Liège, Belgium, suggests.

November: Number and intensity of US hurricanes have remained constant since 1900

There’s been “no trend” in the number and intensity of hurricanes hitting the continental U.S. and the normalized damages caused by such storms over the past 117 years, according to a new study.

December: Alarmist sea level rise scenarios unlikely, says climate scientist Judith Curry

A catastrophic rise in sea levels is unlikely this century, with ­recent experience falling within the range of natural variability over the past several thousand years, according to a report on peer-­reviewed studies by US climate scientist Judith Curry.

HT/GWPF and Marcus

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

Coral Adaptation and Epigenetics

From Watts Up With That:

By Rud Istvan

WUWT has posted several excellent articles by Jim Steele on how global warming alarmism uses corals as the poster child for warming and acidifying oceans, none of which is scientifically justified. A brief review follows, calling attention to a recently discovered additional adaptation mechanism not covered AFAIK by Jim Steele’s posts. The motivation for this post was triggered by a recent lunch with newish neighbor Charles the Moderator (CtM), and his sharing many wonderful underwater photographs of the coral reef he now dives frequently off Pompano Beach (same reef system as off Fort Lauderdale, just a few miles further north and more conveniently onshore). If any coral reef images appear in this post, CtM added them and gets the photocredits.

I have had a longstanding interest in corals, since have been recreationally diving coral reefs for several decades, including those off my Fort Lauderdale beach condo since 2000. Even took my dive uncertified teenagers to the US Virgin Islands, where we snorkeled the reefs at the Carambola resort on St. Croix, and did the Virgin Islands National Park snorkel trail at Buck Island. It is the only underwater ‘hiking’ trail in the entire US National Park system.

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Corals are now known to have three, not two, evolutionary adaptation systems. This fact alone refutes any coral climate alarmism such as regularly coming out of Australia concerning the Great Barrier Reef.

The first adaptation mechanism is simply Darwinian evolution. Corals are ancient animals and very diverse. They have been around since the Cenozoic era. You would correctly surmise that as an animal group, corals have already survived a LOT of climate change. Corals are part of the Cnidara phylum, in the class Anthoza, comprising 5 orders of which four exist and one is extinct. There are over 2400 known coral species.

From a global warming alarm perspective, Darwinian evolution probably works too slowly for corals to adapt to ‘sudden’ anthropogenic global warming and associated ocean acidification. (For more on that overblown ocean alarm, CtM has a separate possible post on seawater chemistry and ocean pH biology, excerpted and adapted from essay Shell Games in my ebook Blowing Smoke.)

The second major coral adaptation mechanism is bleaching, which Jim Steele has previously explained in detail here. In sum, corals are filter feeders. All shallow water corals in the ocean photic zone have evolved a secondary food source provided by symbiont zooxanthellae, which are photosynthetic dinoflagellate algae of the genus Symbiodinum. These live within the coral polyp body, and photosynthesize food for themselves and the host polyp. In return, the polyp provides its symbionts with ‘fertilizer’ from its metabolic waste products. Symbionts provide the profusion of coral colors seen when diving live reefs. Coral polyps are translucent, so without symbionts appear white against their calcium carbonate exoskeletons, which we incorrectly think of as ‘coral’. Broad variation in zooxanthellae species means each is exquisitely adapted to local temperature and pH. If seawater conditions change, corals have evolved the ability to bleach. They expel their current symbionts (thus appearing ‘bleached’ white), and then wait for better ones to come along. That happens naturally since better adapted zooxanthellae differentially multiply in abundance.

This adaptation mechanism is biologically fast, less than a year. Coral alarmists argue that if the polyps do not repopulate symbionts within a few months, they can starve to death (typically about a year or a bit more depending on local seawater fertility). That is true. In which case the dead reef will be eventually be repopulated from new coral larvae after the annual spawning. As prophetically said in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.”

Snorkeling in the neighborhood. Click for larger image. ~ctm

Since about 2015, a third coral adaptation mechanism has been shown, epigenetics. Recent references are too numerous to link here. Interested readers can find dozens of papers and articles by simply googling ‘coral epigenetics’. Jean-Baptiste LaMarck was correct after all! Environmentally adapted traits CAN be passed down the generations. Especially in corals, which not only reproduce sexually by spawning, but also asexually by budding that directly transfers epigenetics to progeny.

Technically, the ‘noncoding’ DNA around each gene’s DNA (we skip the intron/exon ‘gene’ complication) determines when and how often a gene is expressed in relation to its cell’s ‘environment’. That is how embryos develop. The main method for ‘permanently’ turning off genes no longer needed as an embryo develops is DNA methylation, discovered by embryologists.

The big newish epigenetics realization is that DNA methylation can also ‘evolve’ in response the external environment, altering patterns of gene expression without evolutionary changes to the genes themselves. This alters the phenotype but not the genotype.

There is also a second epigenetic mechanism not found in embryology but recently found in many organism’s environmental responses. Since a cell’s nucleus chromosomes have their DNA strands bunched up like a yarn tangle, the tangle has to unfold for interior genes to be expressed into RNA. RNA in turn is the template cellular cytoplasm machinery uses to make the protein the gene encodes. For conservation of ‘energy’, cells evolved DNA refolding where the most frequently used genes eventually get located on the DNA tangle’s outside.

Coral epigenetics has now been show to use both methods, and provides neither a very fast nor very slow adaptation response. It may take decades—just the right time frame to adapt to global warming and climate change.

Since I am leaving any coral images to CtM (and those would not show epigenetics anyway), illustrating how powerful epigenetic adaptation is uses an example more familiar to all, and verifiable in any grocery store, dried beans.

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Modern genetic analysis of dried beans (all P. vulgaris) tells a fascinating epigenetics story. All the many domestic food phenotypes pictured above emerged near simultaneously from a single wild plant. As a result, they today still have very little genotypic variation amongst beans that superficially appear to come from different plants. Nope, all are P. vulgaris, no different than hundreds of dog breeds are all Canus lupus subspecies familiaris (translation, domesticated wolves).

Archeology shows that domesticated P. vulgaris emerged independently in Peru, (landrace kidney beans), in the Mexican highlands (landraces pinto and red beans), and once more in lowland MesoAmerica (landraces black and navy beans), all between 10000BCE and 8000BCE. These distinctly different bean phenotypes all emerged together during the emergence of sedentary agriculture and domesticated plants and animals. The DNA analysis proves bean phenotypes emerged through epigenetic selection rather than through genetic selective breeding—which would have introduced more genetic variation.

I agree with Jim Steele. Coral alarmism doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

Inconvenient study: Higher temperatures could help protect coral reefs

From Watts Up With That:

A new study in the journal Behavioral Ecology, published by Oxford University Press, suggests that higher water temperature, which increases the aggressiveness of some fish, could lead to better protection of some coral.

In the face of global warming, recent years have seen an increasing number of studies predicting the future of corals. It is well established that higher water temperatures lead many corals to die. Over the past century, global temperature has increased by 1°F. Meanwhile, research has shown that coral recovery can be significantly influenced by the behavior of species living around coral reefs.

Researchers here evaluated the relationship between fish behavior and coral performance using a farmerfish-coral system. Farmerfish (stegastes nigricans) are aggressive damselfish found around coral reefs in tropical climates that defend gardens of algae from intrusion by other fish. This study tested the relationship between coral recovery rates and the level of aggression exhibited by farmerfish groups when defending their gardens. The researchers did so by planting small coral fragments into farmerfish territories with different levels of aggressiveness.

The researchers collected data from 29 farmerfish colonies in French Polynesia from 2016 and 2017. They evaluated the average aggressiveness of each farmerfish group as well as the group’s reaction when intruders entered the farmerfish group’s territory.

Researchers found that more branching corals resided in the territories of aggressive farmerfish groups. In addition, corals experimentally planted into the territories of non-aggressive farmerfish suffered 80 percent more damage than the corals planted into the territories of aggressive groups.

Researchers also found that farmerfish groups composed of larger animals were more aggressive. However, follow-up analyses showed that group aggressiveness mattered more than group member size in determining coral success. Fish aggressiveness is therefore likely to be an important part of how coral reefs will grow and survive in future environments.

While warming oceans negatively impacts a variety of biological processes, this study hints that warmer temperatures, which often increase fish aggressiveness, could enhance the protective function of farmerfish for nearby corals.

“Predicting the future of corals will require a systems approach. Failing to account for broader ecological processes, such as species interactions, could lead us to issue the wrong predictions about how some corals will fare in future environments,” said the paper’s author, Jonathan Pruitt. “Heating up many corals even mildly can negatively impact a variety of physiological processes. However, this study shows that small increases could provide greater protection by resident fishes. Obviously this can’t go on for forever, though. At some point, all the protection in the world won’t matter anything if the corals can’t feed themselves.”

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The paper “Collective aggressiveness of an ecosystem engineer is associated with coral recovery” will be available at: https://academic.oup.com/beheco/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/beheco/ary092 on October 16 at midnight EST.

Abstract

The ecological impacts of animal groups may be different and predictable depending on their collective behavior. Farmerfish (Stegastes nigricans) live in social groups and collectively defend gardens of palatable algae. These gardens also serve as settlement and nursery habitats for corals because farmerfish mob corallivores that attempt to forage on corals within these gardens. We detected large among-colony differences in farmerfish collective aggression towards intruder fish that persisted across years. We further found that the territories of aggressive groups and territories containing larger farmerfish provided greater protection to corals: territories of aggressive groups naturally harbored more branching corals than nonaggressive groups, and experimentally outplanted branching corals experienced 80% less skeletal loss and grew larger over 25 weeks in aggressive territories than in nonaggressive territories. These findings hint that factors that increase farmerfish group aggressiveness (e.g., higher temperatures) could enhance the protective value of farmerfish territories for the replenishment of coral populations.