Climate change hype – it’s turtles all the way down under

From the Society for Experimental Biology via Eurekalert, now making the rounds on websites like ScienceDaily, worrisome news that climate change will possibly, maybe, could, put the endangered Mary river turtle in Australia at further risk. Even the author of the study admits “Whether climate change has already contributed to the decline is not clear,” says Ms. Micheli-Campbell. But let’s not let that get in the way of spinning a good story.

Oddly, there’s no mention of climate change as a threatening factor on the Queensland government websites that list the endangered turtle, but many, many, other things are. See more on that at the end of the story along with a temperature analysis. I didn’t expect to spend most of my Sunday on this, but the more I dug into it, the more it looked shonky, and it is. – Anthony

Climate change threatens endangered freshwater turtle

Young Mary river turtles (Elusor macrurus) that were incubated at temperatures predicted under climate change showed reduced mobility and preference for shallow water. Credit: Mariana A. Micheli-Campbell

The Mary river turtle (Elusor macrurus), which is restricted to only one river system in Australia, will suffer from multiple problems if temperatures predicted under climate change are reached, researchers from the University of Queensland have shown.

The scientists, who are presenting their work at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual conference in Glasgow on 3rd July 2011, incubated turtle eggs at 26, 29 and 32⁰C. Young turtles which developed under the highest temperature showed reduced swimming ability and a preference for shallower waters.

This combination of physiological and behavioural effects can have dual consequences for survival chances. “Deeper water not only provides the young turtles with protection from predators but is also where their food supply is found,” explains PhD researcher, Mariana Micheli-Campbell. “Young turtles with poor swimming abilities which linger near the surface are unable to feed and are very likely to get picked off by birds. These results are worrying as climate change predictions for the area suggest that nest temperatures of 32⁰C are likely to be reached in the coming decades.”

The Mary river turtle is already listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List and the population has suffered a large decline over the past decades. Some factors known to have affected the population include collection of the eggs for the pet trade and introduced predators such as foxes and dogs. “Whether climate change has already contributed to the decline is not clear,” says Ms. Micheli-Campbell. “But these results show it may be a danger to this species in the future.”

These findings may be shared by other species of turtle, but the outcome is likely to be more extreme in the Mary River turtle as climatic warming is particularly pronounced for this area and the relatively shallow nests of freshwater turtles are more susceptible to changes in ambient temperature than the deeper nests of sea turtles. Further research is needed to understand the effects of climate change on incubation in other turtles.

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Here’s what they say on the Queensland government website on the turtle:

From http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/wildlife-ecosystems/wildlife/az_of_animals/mary_river_turtle.html

Threatening processes

Juvenile E. macrurus were subjected to illegal collection for the pet trade throughout the 1960s and 1970s (they were sold as ‘penny turtles’). This collection has meant that an entire generation of turtles was removed from the wild leaving a reduced, aging population.

Today nesting is threatened by egg predation from feral animals and goannas, and nest trampling by cattle. This current threat has the potential to remove another generation from the wild population and place the entire species at risk of extinction. Water quality in the streams it inhabits has declined in the past 20 years. Parts of the Mary River catchment have been cleared and heavily grazed, and on these reaches of the river, the turtle is threatened by the effects of increased runoff, siltation and pollution. A reduction in water quality can be attributed to chemical pollution and sediment runoff; commercial sand-mining upstream of turtle populations; and the direct and indirect effects of grazing activity, which may also influence changes in flow rates. Impoundments that are designed without consideration of turtle conservation may also threaten this species by injuring turtles caught in floodways and high velocity water flows. Impoundments may also impact on turtles by changing flow regimes.

Removal of riparian trees prevents recruitment of logs into the instream environment. Emergent logs and log jams may be important elements of the Mary River turtle’s microhabitat.

Seems to me that “climate change” is the least of the problems, which is probably why it  isn’t mentioned.

But let’s take this a step further and look at temperatures. They say in the press release:

The scientists, who are presenting their work at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual conference in Glasgow on 3rd July 2011, incubated turtle eggs at 26, 29 and 32⁰C. Young turtles which developed under the highest temperature showed reduced swimming ability and a preference for shallower waters.

and…

…the outcome is likely to be more extreme in the Mary River turtle as climatic warming is particularly pronounced for this area..

According to the QLD government website on the turtle:

Habitat and distribution

The Mary River turtle occurs in the Mary River, from Gympie, to the tidal reaches just upstream from Maryborough.

and…

Egg morphology and other reproductive characters seem essentially like those of the other turtles in the Family Chelidae with a southern temperate breeding pattern. Nesting occurs in late October and again about one month later.

In a brochure put out by activists protecting the turtle I found:

Nesting occurs from October to January each year, with most of the nesting occurring in November and early December.

Since nesting is in the southern spring and summer, October -January, when high  temperatures start ramping up and because the tests done where problems were shown at 32C, which is much higher than that average annual temperature of the area, I think they are most concerned with the maximum temperatures.

Fortunately, BoM maintains long period of record weather stations at both locations and offers Tmax data. The two stations, about 70 km apart span most of the length of the Mary river:

From Google Earth - click to enlarge

First, Gympie, at the most upstream location. The graph below is from the BoM website.

From the Australian Bureau of Meteorology - click to enlarge

Source: here Doesn’t look like much of a trend in Tmax does it? In fact it looks warmer in the past around 1910-1920. So where is that:

…the outcome is likely to be more extreme in the Mary River turtle as climatic warming is particularly pronounced for this area… ?

I’ve also plotted the data myself two ways, since BoM helpfully provides a Comma Separated Value file here. Note the caveat BoM offers about the data, something I’ve mentioned before and I’m pleased to see they noted it:

Temperature data prior to 1910 should be used with extreme caution as many stations prior to that date used non-standard shelters.

So I chose start dates of 1910 in my plots. Here’s the annual mean Tmax:

click to enlarge image

Note the data discontinuity in 1960, which actually spans from about 1956 to 1965. There’s nothing I can do about that, since BoM has no data.

And here is the monthly data plotted for Gympie:

click to enlarge image

Either way, it appears that there is a downtrend in maximum temperatures at Gympie and that some of the hottest peaks occurred in the past.

Now let’s look at Maryborough, QLD, nearest the ocean delta outlet of the Mary river. Here’s the BoM plot for annual mean Tmax:

Source data here. And my plots:

The trend in Tmax, if there is one, seems essentially flat.

It is important to note that the authors of the turtle study cited incubation temperatures of 32C as being problematic in the development of hatchlings and then go on to say:

These results are worrying as climate change predictions for the area suggest that nest temperatures of 32⁰C are likely to be reached in the coming decades.

Where do they get this 32C assertion from? Perhaps this graph?

click for source image website

Source: http://www.epa.qld.gov.au/soe-online/SOWEB300.jsp?IndicatorId=381

Note that the above graph is an anomaly graph, referenced to a 1961-1990 baseline, or as they say “differences from the 1961-1990 average“. That’s not the same as the actual temperature data, which I plotted and as was shown on the BoM website for Gympie and Maryborough. The coolest period in their actual Tmax records was smack dab in the middle of that 1961-1990 baseline, so of course the present is going to appear warmer compared to that period. But, the fact remains, that in the actual Tmax data for Gympie and  Maryborough there is no trend, or a slight negative one.

As for turtle egg incubation worries, I’ll point out that in both Gympie and in Maryborough data, the monthly mean Tmax routinely exceeded 32C in the past, and apparently the turtles did fine before they started becoming pet store “penny turtles” in Australia, decimating the population.

And then there’s this from the SPRAT profile of the Mary river turtle published by the Australian government:

Nest temperatures in the wild vary from 26° to 40° C (Flakus 2002), and the species does not have temperature-dependent sex determination (Georges & McInnes 1998).

40C!? So what’s the problem?

And, guess what? On this second official web page run (the SPRAT profile) by the Australian government on the turtle I found, there’s no mention of “climate change” or “global warming” as being an issue. Zero, Zip Zilch, Nada, None.

Meanwhile, the compliant web press is busily regurgitating the false alarm over the Mary River turtle from this one press release, that doesn’t even have a paper attached to it yet that I can find at the Society for Experimental Biology website.

I checked the SEB sessions for this year’s annual meeting and found nothing, if anyone can spot the paper, please leave a note in comments. I’d really like to read this one. This is why science papers should always be linked to science press releases.

Another thing I find curious is the brochure (PDF)  put out by the activists that are protecting the turtle. They have their own website, maryriverturtle.com which is part of the Tiaro & District Landcare Group. According to the Tiaro & District Landcare Group the big push seemed to be to stop the Traveston Crossing Dam:


There’s a lot of chatter about stopping the dam on the activist website.

But, there’s no mention of climate change or global warming in their brochure. Zero, Zip Zilch, Nada, None. Heck, the word “climate” isn’t even mentioned in any context. There’s also no mention on their website using a Google site search for “global warming” , “climate change”, or just plain “climate” on maryriverturtle.com. I’ll bet there will be in a few days now.

But, guess who is listed in the Eurekalert PR announcement:

Yup, Tiaro & District Landcare Group aka maryriverturtle.com with a nice little yellow asterisk next to the name.

I suppose once they got the dam stopped, they needed a new boogeyman to keep people stirred up and active in saving the turtle, so here’s how I see it going down:

They got this grad student, a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland, Mariana Micheli-Campbell to look into the “issue”. The photo below, is from her website:

Mariana Micheli-Campbell holds a turtle hatchling

Also on her website, note that she lists this:

Mary River Turtle Scholarship Program – Tiaro & District Landcare Group, QLD, Australia (2009-2011).

So with the help of the scholarship program from the activist group, she goes to incubate some eggs at 32C and lower temperatures, observes some “issues” at the 32C higher temperature, she speculates about local temperatures in the decades ahead exceeding 32C due to the dreaded global warming while ignoring the historic temperature record, and make a press release with the catch-all protective caveat of “Whether climate change has already contributed to the decline is not clear,” while ignoring the fact that previous peer reviewed science says: Nest temperatures in the wild vary from 26° to 40° C.

The press regurgitates the study globally, (without questioning whether temperatures have ever exceeded 32C in the history of the area or what the previous science says) thanks to it being posted on Eurekalert run by the AAAS. Boom! Instant new problem. Fools rush in. Save the turtle! Cash flows into activist coffers, more research is needed. The circle of research life is completed.

Ah, activist science at its finest, truly it’s turtles all the way down.

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SIDENOTE:

As part of my research, I looked into GISS temperature data, and was shocked at just how bad the coverage was. Here is the GISTEMP selection table for the QLD area of interest:

click for table at GISTEMP website

Within a 228km radius, only two stations, Brisbane and Amberly Aero had current data, yet I was able to get current data from BoM easily. GISS seems to think the data for most of QLD stopped in 1992.

On the plus side, the closest station to Gympie that GISS actually has data for, Brisbane at 147km, shows a cooling trend in the annual Tmean plot:

The other QLD station GISS had, Amberley Aero, seems to have a lot of missing data:

Of course, the full Amberley Aero data since 1941 seems to be available at BoM here:  Tmax and Tmin

Note to Gavin Schmidt: As a US taxpayer, may I kindly suggest you get off your RC hobby horse and do some useful work to clean up this missing data mess with some new coding and quality control? If I can find the QLD data, you can, and if people are to have any faith in your work, they shouldn’t be able to find such sloppiness so easily.

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70 thoughts on “Climate change hype – it’s turtles all the way down under

  1. “They got this grad student, a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland, Mariana Micheli-Campbell to look into the “issue”. The photo below, is from her website:”

    Hey it’s tough to find money to finish grad school — I keep telling my daughter to sell her soul — just not to be cheap about. This girl knows where it’s at!

  2. Anthony:
    Nice dissection of more advocacy research. I hope you send he a link to your analysis.

  3. I find the main problem turtles face throughout Australia is their inability to cross a road fast enough. Whenever I see them crossing a road I stop and carry them across so they don’t become another turtle roadkill statistic.

  4. Does any recent environmental research exist that doesn’t refer to the dreaded climate change meme?

  5. Just as climate change is inevitable, so is the change of biological niches. And so too, is climate change one cause of changing biological niches. As the niches evolve, so do its inhabitants, often by extinction and replacement, sometimes by adaptation. Where would we be without this dynamic? Well, not reading Wot’s Up on the internet, that’s fer shur.

    It’s all good, folks.
    ===========

  6. Nigel Calder in the great global warming swindle, talks of writing a hypothetical paper on the “squirrels of sussex”. He says that mentioning global warming increases your chances of getting a grant.
    Another study paying homage to global warming right there.

  7. Anthony, I sure hope the world wises up and some credible university gives you an honourary doctorate for the work you do. You are a true scientist – you have an instinctive sense that allows you to identify an anomaly or problem, and complete dedication to finding out what is really going on.

    This was a masterly analysis and a nice piece of detective work. Like Bernie above, I hope you send this student a link to your analysis. I would hope that she would get this kind of feedback from her supervisory committee, but given the way the world has gone in recent decades, this probably won’t happen.

    That being said, I am sympathetic to the campaign to conserve estuarine species. Just do it honestly!

  8. Has she tried incubating the turtles in a solution of clam broth with carrots and onions at 100degC?

    I think the results could be stunning.

  9. I’ve just hit the tip jar to thank you more tangibly for your continuing excellent work. Happy Independence Day to you and your family, Anthony!

  10. This article totally exposes the fraudsters behind AGW with a little time and effort it’s easy to expose all these phony papers posing as scientific research.
    In a word – DISCUSSING.

  11. Turtles? Has anyone considered increasing the range by starting colonies of Mary River turtles on different rivers? (They’d probably have to start calling it the River Turtle or perhaps “The River Turtle Formerly Known As Mary.”)

    How about the platypus? My daughter decided she liked platypi years ago and has has gradually expanded that to all semi-aquatic mammals. Sensible, since we don’t seem to have platypi near where she goes to college, which oddly enough is St. Mary’s College of Maryland located in St Mary’s City which is next to St. Mary’s River. It’s a tidal river, and hence likely not a good place for Mary River turtles or platypi.

    Oh yeah. AFP (whatever that is but it’s hosted by Google, see http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gZy6XwttlgbjteqlkL6uIHmbnG2w ), says in part:

    Danger heats up for Australia’s platypus

    By Amy Coopes (AFP) – Jun 23, 2011

    SYDNEY – Global warming could shrink the habitat of Australia’s duck-billed platypus by a third, researchers warned Friday, with hotter, drier temperatures threatening its survival.

    A confusion of bird, mammal and reptile characteristics, the timid platypus is one of Australia’s most cryptic creatures, feeding at night and living in deep waterside burrows to dodge predators such as foxes and eagles.

    But its thick, watertight fur coat — one of the key tools to ensuring its survival in the cool depths of rivers and waterholes — could spell disaster in a warming climate, according to a new study from Melbourne’s Monash University.

    Using weather and platypus habitat data stretching back more than 100 years, researchers were able to map declines in particular populations in connection with droughts and heat events.

    The team then extrapolated their findings across a range of climate change scenarios laid out by the government’s science research agency, CSIRO, to model how global warming would affect the unusual native species.

    “Our worst case scenario at the moment suggested a one-third reduction in their suitable habitat,” researcher Jenny Davis told AFP of the work published in the journal Global Change Biology.

    Their average body temperature is 32 degrees Celsius (89 Fahrenheit) — lower than most other mammals — and they overheat rapidly when exposed to warm conditions out of the water.

    Of most concern, however, is the drying up of waterways where they forage for aquatic invertebrates, with the platypus needing to eat about 30 percent of their own body weight every day to survive.

    Davis said the creature’s demise was “just another warning sign” of global warming’s impact on Australia’s unique wildlife.

    Meanwhile, over at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/8596068/Duck-billed-platypus-at-risk-from-climate-change.html the Brits aren’t buying it. The article adds:

    “It reinforces the need to act decisively on climate change issues.”

    The comments include notes like:

    “Don’t worry about it Bonnie, they are probably going to want a bit of warming when the cooling kicks in.”

    “This animal has not evolved much if at all in the last 100 000 years. As such it could well be vulnerable to any environmental change. I would suggest that human activity is much more significant than any recent climate changes.”

    [and the reply "I wonder how it managed to survive the Middle Age warm period then."]

    [Personal comment: If the critter hasn't evolved much, perhaps it's more capable at handling changing conditions than one might expect and simply didn't need to evolve.]

    “Well, that’s a first. I tried to post links to 4 weather stations in Australia and these were blocked by … dunnoh.. Big Brother?

    Try this… go down the list of weather stations and look for Australia… its there.. Check the historic data for yourself..

    http://www.john-daly.com/stations/longrch.gif http://www.john-daly.com/stations/laun-hob.gif http://www.john-daly.com/stations/gabo-i.gif http://www.john-daly.com/stations/wilsons.gif
    [The Register did mess things up badly, or the poster concatenated all four together.]”

    Perhaps Australia should allow farmers to cut down Eucalyptus trees on farmland to expand farming and reduce the wildfire risk, and mandate trees along riverways be restored. That could balance out nicely.

  12. WHAT IS IT ABOUT SOCIALISTS AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH?
    OT sorry but Tips & Notes tends to cause my PC terminal memory hemorrhage.
    Academics on the Government payroll obviously believe their meal ticket is under threat. A group of 50 academics has attempted to prevent AGW sceptic Lord Monckton from speaking at Notre Dame University Western Australia. Andrew Bolt sheds some light on this motley crew of 50 academics, why there’s even a few “climate scientists” amongst them.
    On the other side of Australia, the activists have succeeded in intimidating the Brisbane Broncos football club in cancelling a booking for Lord Monckton to speak at their venue in Queensland. Joe Nova tells of a campaign waged by GetUp an Australian Labor Party front group that has seen the club cancel the booking at very short notice.

  13. Looks like Ms. Micheli-Campbell is well on her way to becoming Dr. Micheli-Campbell, climate scientist extraordinaire. All she needs now is to feed all her data into the mann-o-matic and produce the necessary final Turtle Hockey Stick graph.

  14. [Grr. Let me try that out with the blockquotes done better. Mods, feel free to delete my previous attempt.]

    Turtles? Has anyone considered increasing the range by starting colonies of Mary River turtles on different rivers? (They’d probably have to start calling it the River Turtle or perhaps “The River Turtle Formerly Known As Mary.”)

    How about the platypus? My daughter decided she liked platypi years ago and has has gradually expanded that to all semi-aquatic mammals. Sensible, since we don’t seem to have platypi near where she goes to college, which oddly enough is St. Mary’s College of Maryland located in St Mary’s City which is next to St. Mary’s River. It’s a tidal river, and hence likely not a good place for Mary River turtles or platypi.

    Oh yeah. AFP (whatever that is but it’s hosted by Google, see http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gZy6XwttlgbjteqlkL6uIHmbnG2w ), says in part:

    Danger heats up for Australia’s platypus

    By Amy Coopes (AFP) – Jun 23, 2011

    SYDNEY – Global warming could shrink the habitat of Australia’s duck-billed platypus by a third, researchers warned Friday, with hotter, drier temperatures threatening its survival.

    A confusion of bird, mammal and reptile characteristics, the timid platypus is one of Australia’s most cryptic creatures, feeding at night and living in deep waterside burrows to dodge predators such as foxes and eagles.

    But its thick, watertight fur coat — one of the key tools to ensuring its survival in the cool depths of rivers and waterholes — could spell disaster in a warming climate, according to a new study from Melbourne’s Monash University.

    Using weather and platypus habitat data stretching back more than 100 years, researchers were able to map declines in particular populations in connection with droughts and heat events.

    The team then extrapolated their findings across a range of climate change scenarios laid out by the government’s science research agency, CSIRO, to model how global warming would affect the unusual native species.

    “Our worst case scenario at the moment suggested a one-third reduction in their suitable habitat,” researcher Jenny Davis told AFP of the work published in the journal Global Change Biology.

    Their average body temperature is 32 degrees Celsius (89 Fahrenheit) — lower than most other mammals — and they overheat rapidly when exposed to warm conditions out of the water.

    Of most concern, however, is the drying up of waterways where they forage for aquatic invertebrates, with the platypus needing to eat about 30 percent of their own body weight every day to survive.

    Davis said the creature’s demise was “just another warning sign” of global warming’s impact on Australia’s unique wildlife.

    Meanwhile, over at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/8596068/Duck-billed-platypus-at-risk-from-climate-change.html the Brits aren’t buying it. The article adds:

    “It reinforces the need to act decisively on climate change issues.”

    The comments include notes like:

    “Don’t worry about it Bonnie, they are probably going to want a bit of warming when the cooling kicks in.”

    “This animal has not evolved much if at all in the last 100 000 years. As such it could well be vulnerable to any environmental change. I would suggest that human activity is much more significant than any recent climate changes.”

    [and the reply "I wonder how it managed to survive the Middle Age warm period then."]

    [Personal comment: If the critter hasn't evolved much, perhaps it's more capable at handling changing conditions than one might expect and simply didn't need to evolve.]

    “Well, that’s a first. I tried to post links to 4 weather stations in Australia and these were blocked by … dunnoh.. Big Brother?

    Try this… go down the list of weather stations and look for Australia… its there.. Check the historic data for yourself..

    http://www.john-daly.com/stations/longrch.gif http://www.john-daly.com/stations/laun-hob.gif http://www.john-daly.com/stations/gabo-i.gif http://www.john-daly.com/stations/wilsons.gif
    [The Register did mess things up badly, or the poster concatenated all four together.]”

    Perhaps Australia should allow farmers to cut down Eucalyptus trees on farmland to expand farming and reduce the wildfire risk, and mandate trees along riverways be restored. That could balance out nicely.

  15. The trick in gaining research funding is, of course, to link whatever you really want to study to the cause-celebre of the day. Unfortunately research scientists have now found a virtual bottomless pit of funding called “global-warming” and so long as one can link one’s research area to this, no matter how loosely, one will no doubt find funding coming one’s way. Hence the vested interest that we “skeptics” keep on griping about. Meh what do I know, after all I have a first degree in geology and therefore I must be in the pocket of “big oil”. Funny though, my cheque seems to have been displaced!

  16. If these turtles evacuate this mortal coil it will be because they did not adapt. There’s a reason cockroaches are found on every continent and it’s not because they’re cute. Small flightless birds are extremely vulnerable to introduced species. It is not in the rulebook that there will never be introduced species and so when one comes along, off go the flightless birds. Nature is not kind to tasty mammalians (I would have to exempt cows from this if growing populations are accepted as a positive metric) and genetic slackers.

  17. farcical.
    these turtles dig nests – they don’t lay eggs in the air. their eggs are not subject to air temperatures.
    they dig until they find acceptable temperature and humidity – they know what they’re doing.

  18. shame on the fakers for wanton turtle killing. there was no need for it but their nasty agenda.

  19. Why is it always ‘could, might, maybe if‘ in the research, and “DDDDDOOOOOOOMMMMM!!!!!” in the press release?

  20. Is this her dissertation research or just something she “looked into” for her friends? She has now given the issue a level of scholarly credence and herself a patina (tarnish) that, perhaps, is undeserved. She did NOT say the cute little things are gonna die because of a degree or two of change – so that’s a plus for her.

    Assuming this is not her dissertation, I suggest she send WUWT an outline of her real research topic and Anthony and some others can help her out.

    Now, Anthony, take the 4th off. Almost all of us will survive.

  21. Well done Anthony!

    It’s embarrassing to have this sort of rot emanating from our local hall of learning but great to see it nailed.

    Wishing you all a happy independence day!

  22. gnomish says:
    July 3, 2011 at 9:39 pm
    shame on the fakers for wanton turtle killing. there was no need for it but their nasty agenda.

    I emphatically agree. Play god, you dimwits. Hard-boiled results.

  23. The Traveston Crossing dam was cancelled by the former environment minister, principally to do with the Lungfish – another unique animal found in the area. The whole thing is mixed in with climate change in a mind-bending way. Brisbane was running low on water supplies around 2004-2005. This was blamed by Tim Flannery as because of climate change – and he advised that Brisbane would run out of water by 2007 or 2009 or something like that. In reality it was because the population of Brisbane and the greater area had nearly doubled since the 1970’s, when the last dam was actually built. There was a proposal for a new Dam in the 1980’s, but this was cancelled by a former state premier, with the dirty work done to grab green votes and directed by future PM and Copenhagen ‘friend of the chair’ Kevin Rudd. So Brisbane soldiers on into the 2000’s with no new water infrastructure and the dams start running low after an extended drought. ‘Climate Change’ is blamed, and two solutions are proposed – a desalination plant, and a new dam. This despite Tim Flannery advising that not enough rain will fall in the future to fill Dams anyway. Nobody likes new Dams getting built, so the state premier finds somewhere that has been rejected in the past by engineers, but does have the distinct advantage of being in an electorate that doesn’t vote for his party anyway. So the Dam is announced before initial planning is even completed and properties start getting resumed. But then a strange coalition of greenies (turtle + lungfish) and farmers (who want to keep their farms) unite and fight the government. It goes all the way to the top, and Federal Environment minister Peter Garret (former lead singer of Midnight Oil) cans the project because of the environmental issues. The dam is dead, but climate change alarmism is alive and well. Then, the SOI flips over, we get a major La Nina, and the Mary, Brisbane and every other river from the NSW border to Cape York has a major flooding episode. Just about every QLD dam is at 100% and overflowing. Flannery looks like a fool for his pronouncements, Rudd is booted from PM role because he backflips on his climate change policy and life goes on. The billion-dollar desal plant is mothballed, everyone’s water prices double because of the wasted money, and we the people are stuck with higher bills and no actual new supply. But the rent-seekers, meddlers and busybodies all made out like bandits.

    I say it is muddled because climate change was supposed to mean Dams could no longer be relied upon, so it shouldn’t have been proposed. But a city out of water is more of a problem than a hypothetical future issue. So climate change was used to sell the idea of the dam, but climate change was supposed to make the dam useless. But then, the desal plant gobbles up lots of coal-fired electricity and was built at sea level. So if coal-fired power is responsible for sea level rise, surely building a desal plant on the shoreline and running it with coal power is an own-goal? Thus the entirely-muddle-headed thinking of AGW politics rolls on, and anything that needs that little push to get over the line finds an excuse in climate change somewhere.

    Still, nice to see my local area featured on WUWT. You should visit the Mary Valley, the Fraser Coast and Fraser Island next time you are downunder. A more beautiful slice of the world is very hard to find. For the record, been here most of my life and the weather hasn’t ever changed. Still a beautiful climate here at about 26 deg s and 153 deg east.

    ps Tewantin is the official BOM station for the area. I’m surprised it doesn’t have more data.

  24. Too bad there isn’t a town on the Mary River named Myrtle.
    Then the rallying cry could be “Save Myrtle the Turtle”. The whole thing is just silly. PhD’s making stuff up just to get a cushy research grant.

  25. Anybody going to the Society for Experimental Biology Annual conference in Glasgow on 3rd July 2011 to nail this BSer?

  26. It is the very same government that wanted to build the dam – which would have really hurt the turtles – and was only stopped by sensible and compassionate (real) environmental people – who now want to tax everything in sight to stop an imaginary threat to the turtles. Talk about hypocrisy.

  27. So this group claiming to be concerned about an endangered species of turtle… experiments on its young?

    Some years ago in the American Southwest I tried to get a grant to do some research on scorpion learning abilities. There has been a longstanding problem that it is nearly impossible to motivate a scorpion to even move, let alone run a maze or otherwise demonstrate cognitive abilities. I figured out a (pain free) way to motivate them.

    At the same time I was declined, a colleague got a grant to study the impact of ‘global warming’ on the feeding habits of a certain scorpion species. Thing is, no one has studied its pre-‘global warming’ feeding habits, so I’m still puzzled as to how exactly they’re going to know what the impact is.

    Welcome to the Green Age, eh?

  28. Then the Queen left off, quite out of breath, and said to Alice, “Have you seen the Mock Turtle yet?”
    “No,” said Alice. “I don’t even know what a Mock Turtle is.”
    “It’s the thing Mock Turtle Soup is made from,” said the Queen.
    (Alice in Wonderland, chapter 9)

  29. I don’t care what her so called credentials are. ANY so called scientist who doesn’t admit that the climate has and will constantly change until the sun goes nova,and we puny humans can do diddly about,is only a scam artist,and useful idiot for the misygonists.

  30. What is the “Society for Experimental Biology” and why would this kind of ‘research’ being published there? What experiment? That would require logic.

    This climate change story looks more related to tapping in to that funding pool than to any real attempt at generating ‘evidence.’ It is just too ridiculous.

    Unless… since AGW causes everything it must have caused all those other “Threatening processes” which are this turtle’s real problems, as well as causing no warming. (The absence of warming is not necessarily evidence of the absence of warming.) In which case, the only thing that can save these turtles is a good stiff carbon tax.

  31. Further to your temperatures for Maryborough and Gympie you can add the following.
    Maryborough – summer max temps average between 30C-31C. Highest temp of 40.6C in 1979.
    Gympie – summer max temps average between 30C and 31.3C. Highest 42.0C in 2001.

    Turtles seemed to survived the ‘warming’ well in the past when, as the BOM data shows, it was warmer in the 1930s.

  32. A prime example of Darwin’s theory at work. Rising temperatures cause greater evaporation, leaving shallower waters to accommodate the turtles. Eggs that hatch in those temperatures are programmed to swim at shallower depths.
    Ain’t nature wonderful?

  33. Reminds me or Mr Garrison’s egg experiment to prove gay people make bad parents. Just as robust in its execution.

  34. Ongoing research into turtles and fish is more important than water supply and mitigation. As always, classes compete for resources, except that the academic class is the only one that never sees it this way.

  35. janama says:
    July 3, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    I find the main problem turtles face throughout Australia is their inability to cross a road fast enough. Whenever I see them crossing a road I stop and carry them across so they don’t become another turtle roadkill statistic.
    ===============
    I do the same,
    did you know we are breaking the law to do this?
    as a native critter taking the time to stop and SAVE their lives by touching them to lift them to safety, we are committing an offence
    now that! is seriously greenstupid in action:-)
    ps long neck turtles thank you by peeing a nasty garlic scented spray over you..lmost makes you wonder why? you help them sometimes:-)

  36. Could it be an experimental follow-up to this from 2009? (irrespective of “climate change” claims):

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090227095000.htm

    Closing sentences appear relevant:

    Previous research conducted by Dr Booth at Heron Island, and published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, investigated how much energy the hatchlings needed to reach safe deep water.

    Calculating the amount of energy the hatchlings consumed during an 18 hour swim, Dr Booth said the turtles carried almost 10 times as much energy in their yolk remnants as they needed to reach safety.

    “So the youngsters aren’t at risk of running out of energy before making it to safety,” he said.

    “They can probably survive 14 days in the open ocean before finding food.”

  37. Your delicious piece of forensic dissection has prompted me to send you a donation as well, Anthony. Turtles forever!

  38. Heh, “shonky”… I like that word. :-) Kind of a cross between shoddy and wonky, the ideal description of this kind of research.

  39. Biologists ought to know better than producing work which bewails the fate of an animal species because of AGW. After all, they surely must to know that this planet has gone through far more violent climate changes, never mind rather violent changes to habitats (plate tectonics, anyone?), in its history.
    But lo and behold – animals are still with us, some of rather ancient lineage, too. What’s more – they managed to survive and evolve without any help from us.
    Research such as this one show perfectly that AGW activists would rather waste money on such spurious quest than actively do something to protect the environment of this turtle. The Queensland Government site provides them with some pertinent clues … and AGW ain’t on their list …

  40. I have been keeping and breeding reptiles all my life so it is great to see a story I can comment on with some knowledge. The relative air temperature has little to do with the temperature at which reptiles eggs are incubated at, they are never left out in the open. Reptiles will seek out the best places to lay eggs that are at the correct temperature.

  41. So, this is what passes for Ph.D. candidate doctoral research? We have already dumbed down universities by letting just about anybody with loans/cash/poor-needy-me-scholarships get in. Now we are letting them into Ph.D. programs and throwing hint-hint cash on them. Wonder what Mann did for his doctoral?

  42. By the way, this review brings up the point I often make in my comments. Climate has to do with extremes and seasons and is predominantly geographically set. Weather is what meanders around within the climate and can have both short and long term patterns. Anomaly statistics reflects weather pattern variation based on comparison to an arbitrarily chosen averaged length of time. Historical max and min records along with records of extreme temps, reflects the boundaries of climate.

  43. Hey c’mon everybody — lighten up! We’re talking about a grad student who probably can’t make ends meet without selling her soul and kissing the Mannian Hand of Anthropogenic Climate Research.

    My daughter’s in grad school an just landed a temporary job. Yeah! she thinks — I can pay the rent and eat too! Nope 10 hours a week max or she looses her research funding. Now if only she could increase her research funding instead — but nope — got a job…

    So maybe this is a way to pay the rent and eat too — and maybe she is just renting her soul — not selling. Maybe it’s time for someone to send a polite letter and ask if she is really a believer — all under non-disclosure of course — or she’ll never get a research project again if she is not a believer.

    Not that people are exactly forced to do this kind of rental and selling — she could take a job as a postie — eh wot?

    Course there is the Hydrogen Energy Research I was asked to undertake — couldn’t stomach that one — but no more NRC grants eh? Coincidence I’m sure — but still.

  44. I shake my head – shameful and desperate is the name of the game in Australia, we are being taken for a ride politically and allowing this sort of nonsense in our schools to be passed off as research – what hope have we got – shame Australia wish it wasn’t so.

    Guys have a great fourth of July and don’t let this happen to your kids and country!!

  45. amicus curiae says:
    July 4, 2011 at 3:54 am

    janama says:
    July 3, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    I find the main problem turtles face throughout Australia is their inability to cross a road fast enough. Whenever I see them crossing a road I stop and carry them across so they don’t become another turtle roadkill statistic.
    ===============
    I do the same,
    did you know we are breaking the law to do this?
    as a native critter taking the time to stop and SAVE their lives by touching them to lift them to safety, we are committing an offence
    now that! is seriously greenstupid in action:-)

    Our local (New Hampshire USA) Snapping Turtles (much wider range than NH) are slow at crossing roads, I’ve helped a few across. I think it’s legal here! OTOH, Snappers don’t appreciate any help. I think they concentrate swamp muck smell, they keep prying my fingers off with their rear legs, and if I moved my hands forward they’d reach around with their long neck and bite off my fingertips.

    Typical size is 25 cm or so across – you really don’t want them around fingers and toes!

  46. Goodness me! Are we really that bad? It seems every time I check out this site there’s another helping of climate nonsense from Australia. Is there a balance problem here? Why are you picking on us? We’re a tiny nation population wise; such that an Australian story should only crop up once every few months, at most.

    Mind you on the basis of other issues, I parody our national anthem as “Advance Australia Pathetic”, so maybe it really is that bad…

  47. We have mentally devolved into the Dark Ages.

    When logic and science and technology were just memories of past greatness, all events could be explained by:

    “It’s God’s Will.”

    We now reflexively use:

    “It’s Climate Change”

    And we all say, “Amen”.

  48. “temperatures predicted under climate change” – i.e. modeled. My model of the sun’s evolution says it will turn into a red gas giant at some point, and all of this will not matter.

  49. Anthony … you might like to look at all Australian BoM stations in the GISS database that are current, or were current to 2008/2009 when I compared the two about a year back – 41 in total across Australia …

    http://www.waclimate.net/bomhq-giss-adjust.html

    The page is headlined “What happened in 1993?” for reasons that should be apparent in your GISS list of stations above. The BoM data is High Quality adjusted, which has nothing to do with why the BoM temps are consistently lower than GISS pre-93 and consistently higher post-93. Honest.

    Ken Stewart has also dug through the data …

    http://kenskingdom.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/bom-vs-giss-who’s-right/

    By the by, I got home about an hour ago from Lord Monckton’s address in the Wilsmore Lecture Theatre at the University of Western Australia. Almost all seats were taken in the theatre – I’d estimate about 230 people. It was similar to watching four years of WUWT postings condensed to an hour on PowerPoint. The UWA vice-chancellor had distanced the university from tonight’s Monckton lecture (http://www.news.uwa.edu.au/201106303703/uwa-distances-itself-monckton-talk) but I saw no protesters and only two dissenting people in the audience who left in a huff after Monckton cut off their questions (curt, but I think they deserved it).

  50. You could of course try to see if the species takes in other river regions in Australia or on other continents to improve their ability to stay in the evolutionary race. Of course you’d have to fend off OTHER conservationists who’d condemn the invasive species if you succeed.

  51. “WillR says:
    July 4, 2011 at 6:30 am”

    So it IS about the money! Well…well I need to sit down for a while and ponder how my taxes are being spent. Oh wait! This person is actually forming a conclusion before any ACTUAL research. I want MY money back. She can fund her own “specialty” herself.

  52. I am amazed at the number of species (especially cute ones) that allegedly can’t survive even a modest change in their environment. I thought that natural selection was suppose to weed out the species that are not able to adapt. Wouldn’t it be better to let the species that can’t tolerate minor changes to their environment go extinct, so that nature can evolve more adaptable versions?

    It amazes me how non-cute species, like mosquitoes, always are said to thrive in climate change, which as we know will make the world, warmer, colder, drier, and wetter at the same time.

  53. Pamela;
    About the MM PhD: you might find it a fascinating tale. IIRC, awarding it was hung up on the merits till a talent for attracting big GW funding surfaced, then was greased thru. Authority over his betters soon followed, exercised in a particularly aggressive and petty manner.
    And so it goes.

  54. Chris Gillham says:
    July 4, 2011 at 7:39 am

    The UWA vice-chancellor had distanced the university from tonight’s Monckton lecture (http://www.news.uwa.edu.au/201106303703/uwa-distances-itself-monckton-talk) …

    Ugh. A particularly mendacious and mealy-mouthed distancing, too. Excerpt:

    “I reject the position put by Lord Monckton and find his anti-science stance and related comments offensive. His views denigrate the values of universities such as ours where the quality of evidence-based and peer-reviewed science is paramount.
    …”

  55. Pamela Gray,

    Alas, doctorate means nothing these days, especially in “humanities.” You need to look into the actual work of a person to see if he or she really knows something, Ph.D. be damned.

    “Professor” has almost become a swearword: as soon as people hear “professor” they expect no common sense, convenient detachment from reality, conformism, oversimplification hidden by terminological obfuscation — lies, lies, and more lies. It’s not an ivory tower any more, it’s a cesspool.

    But we must be brave. Fighting stupidity is a process. It never ends, because a fool is born every minute.

    I only wish that somebody with Mr. Watt’s determination and skill would take upon the whole modern culture full of harmful myths and nonsense: political correctness, mandatory respect for religion, abstract paintings, atonal music, lack of electoral qualification, artificially hypertrophied interest in sexual deviations, nonsensical commercialized “sports,” majority of parasites living off the minority of working people, the whole shebang.

    Somebody, dissect Lady Gaga for me, please!

  56. re:Pamela Gray says:
    July 4, 2011 at 6:09 am
    So, this is what passes for Ph.D. candidate doctoral research? We have already dumbed down universities by letting just about anybody with loans/cash/poor-needy-me-scholarships get in. Now we are letting them into Ph.D. programs and throwing hint-hint cash on them. Wonder what Mann did for his doctoral?
    On this Independence Day, as in Abraham Lincoln’s day 150 years ago,we are involved in, as he put it, “a struggle for maintaining… that form, and substance of government, whose leading object is, to elevate the condition of men —
    to lift artificial weights from all shoulders —
    to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all —
    to afford all, an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life.”
    Now as this is my birthday, I will nourish some trees with my grill, while I sit under my American Flag and US Navy Flag, gently lapping the wind. I will raise my ice cold beverage and give thanks.:)

  57. All water-borne animals have to cope with large temperature fluctuations like the ten degrees yearly variation at the Mary River. In warm years they reproduce earlier whereas in cold years later. Furthermore they are very selective in choosing suitable nesting sites. An animal able to leave the water, as turtles and tortoises do, is in an even better position to cope with climate change. No problem.

  58. “…researchers from the University of Queensland…” You could have just stopped there. You may as well get the research done by a Primary school.

  59. Judging by the fact that it’s restricted to only one river system, I’d say the Mary River Turtle backed the wrong gene mix. Happens all the time.

  60. From the weather and not climate department.

    BBC – 1 July 2011
    Australia investigates washed-up turtles in Queensland

    “It is thought unseasonably cold weather or the flow of floodwaters into the ocean could be to blame.”

  61. THX for keeping the warmists honest

    I’d love to know how she clocked the allegedly slow swimming turtles vs. the faster swimming turtles.

  62. Anthony, we will miss you, but if you don’t have time to do what you have to do, what’s the point of all the incredible work you do on WUWT?
    Take a break and enjoy it!!

  63. I have seen many studies that examine the effect of incubation temperature on gender ratios among reptiles (including turtles) because they exhibit temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD), based on mean temperatures of the nests at certain critical times during embryonic development. In turtles with TSD, males are generally produced at lower incubation temperatures than females, with this change occurring over a range of temperatures as little as 1-2 °C.

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