Please Send Money: Aussie Ecosystems are Collapsing because Climate Change

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Did anyone notice the end of the world?

Ecosystems across Australia are collapsing under climate change

July 5, 2018 6.09am AEST

To the chagrin of the tourist industry, the Great Barrier Reef has become a notorious victim of climate change. But it is not the only Australian ecosystem on the brink of collapse.

Our research, recently published in Nature Climate Change, describes a series of sudden and catastrophic ecosystem shifts that have occurred recently across Australia.

These changes, caused by the combined stress of gradual climate change and extreme weather events, are overwhelming ecosystems’ natural resilience.

Once an ecosystem goes into steep decline – with key species dying out and crucial interactions no longer possible – there are important consequences.

Targeted interventions, like the assisted recolonisation of plants and animals, reseeding an area that’s suffered forest loss, and actively protecting vulnerable ecosystems from destructive bushfires, may prevent a system from collapsing, but at considerable financial cost. And as the interval between extreme events shorten, the chance of a successful intervention falls.

Read more: https://theconversation.com/ecosystems-across-australia-are-collapsing-under-climate-change-99367

The abstract of the study;

Biological responses to the press and pulse of climate trends and extreme events

R. M. B. Harris, L. J. Beaumont, T. R. Vance, C. R. Tozer, T. A. Remenyi, S. E. Perkins-Kirkpatrick, P. J. Mitchell, A. B. Nicotra, S. McGregor, N. R. Andrew, M. Letnic, M. R. Kearney, T. Wernberg, L. B. Hutley, L. E. Chambers, M.-S. Fletcher, M. R. Keatley, C. A. Woodward, G. Williamson, N. C. Duke and D. M. J. S. Bowman

The interaction of gradual climate trends and extreme weather events since the turn of the century has triggered complex and, in some cases, catastrophic ecological responses around the world. We illustrate this using Australian examples within a press–pulse framework. Despite the Australian biota being adapted to high natural climate variability, recent combinations of climatic presses and pulses have led to population collapses, loss of relictual communities and shifts into novel ecosystems. These changes have been sudden and unpredictable, and may represent permanent transitions to new ecosystem states with-out adaptive management interventions. The press–pulse framework helps illuminate biological responses to climate change, grounds debate about suitable management interventions and highlights possible consequences of (non-) intervention.

Read more (paywalled): https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-018-0187-9.epdf

Somehow I doubt things are quite as bad as the researchers claim. Thanks to the courage of Peter Ridd we have all seen what happens to researchers in Australian academia who criticise extreme climate claims.

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85 thoughts on “Please Send Money: Aussie Ecosystems are Collapsing because Climate Change

  1. The Conversation? Alarmist much? I live in Australia and if this were true the media would be spewing about it. Oh wait, the soccer world cup is on, so…meh!

  2. Ecosystems indeed are under threat from human encroachment in many places.
    Burning and cutting down rainforests to make arable lands for human agriculture.
    Suburban sprawl in North America and into natural habitats because we like to see nature from our front porches.
    Overfishing and drift netting in large swaths of the un-policed oceans is another threat.

    But none of that has much, if anything, to do with TheMagicMolecule directly as a part of our atmosphere. TheMagicMolecule is making the biosphere greener, and enhancing land and ocean food-chains from the bottom up.

    • And the worst affected part -most recently- was the most remote, making it necessary to invoke the magic molecule and AGW to implicate man directly!

    • I read a report that over 80% of Australians 18 years of age, raised within 1km of the ocean have never seen the sea. Let that sink in.. we’re a nation of urban dwellers spoon fed ‘truths’ by media clods.

      Saying one time to friends I was heading out bush for a few days was met with bewildered stares and confused expressions – why do people do that? I was asked. telling them I needed to sight in a rifle was met with looks of disgust. I honestly fear for this country of mine..

          • blue rings, box jellyfish, man o’ wars, sharks, rays, sand burns requiring hospitalization , bloody cold water, cone shells, stone fish, cobblers, rips, sea snakes – there’s plenty of reasons parents don’t let their kids near the beaches in WA. Sure my parents used to head IN to the water when there were shark sightings as we sat playing on the beach as they were spearfishers.. and I’ve had plenty of welts from box jellies that took months to heal, sliced to the bone by a small shark bites and the odd surfboard – yeah- terrified parents aren’t keen on these things despite the risks being very low.

            Here’s one study (not the one I saw from a few years back) but this one’s from Queensland’s tourist beach destination near the GBR, a hot tropical zone where people flock to the beach for comfort – and yet in it they find in excess of 15% have never been to the beach.
            https://researchonline.jcu.edu.au/34668/1/DoesParticipation.pdf

            that’s a tourist beach hotspot. not a residential Perth suburb with kids who in grade 1 as a school requirement have ipads, travel chauffeured
            to school every day and are afraid of grass.. I shall continue looking for the other one.

      • Sorry , I don’t buy that statistic. No one where ever they live would consciously avoid ever going one kilometre in a particular direction from his home unless there was a very good reason.

        I know people living in West Berlin before the Wall came down who never ventured to the other side even when restrictions were easing. That I can understand, though it surprised me at first. But I’m calling BS on that “report”.

        Some times (always) you need to question your sources. That is what being sceptic means.

        • oh i dunno
          i live near a lake and dont go the halfmile to see it.
          i lived in adelaide for 30+ yrs and maybe bothered to go to the beach 10 times at most usually because someone else wanted to go. sand salt n sunburn ppht!
          theres supposed to be some speccy natural wonders n touristy stuff all around my place, i couldnt give a rats to go look. i have my home n land and dont feel the need to spend ripoff amts on fuel to drive see anything. seen one chunk of gumtrees or hills or whatever , pretty much seen em all.

          • When first working I lived one block from the beach.
            Made it there twice in 18 months.

          • dunes – coastal dunes obscured the sea for almost every place I’ve lived (near the coast) in Western Australia, and yes, while at high school despite me being a beach kid who swam every day summer and winter, enduring box jellyfish stings rips and even Cyclone Alby, there were plenty of kids at the same school who had *never* been to the beach.

            These days I suspect the numbers were accurate – helicopter parents in 300m2 houses covering the entire blocks, nah – outdoors is for mugs.

        • Greg, For twenty years I lived in SE Florida with its beautiful beaches and ocean. I spent my life in and around the water. While I didn’t do a survey I was shocked to find out how many people had never been or desired to go to the beach, on the water or had ever looked at the ocean or bays except when driving by. I did “test” that bizarre fact at a very large party one night. I got on stage and asked the audience how many had been to the beach or ocean in the past year, less than ten percent raised their hands. Interestingly I did that test later at a smaller party. More people raised their hands. Why? Cruise ship industry had exploded.

          • When I lived in Florida while in grad school, I was in or on the water a great deal, working. But “going to the beach” implies towels, picnic baskets, and crowds of people, just not something I wanted to do. Also, the beach re-nourishment projects have created a very unpleasant kind of beach, it is hard and full of lumpy fossil coral and shells. This is great for collecting, btw, something I also did.

        • @Greg;
          I can believe it. I grew up at the Jersey Shore, less than 10 miles from the beach, and I can count on two hands with fingers left over the number of times I’ve been to the beach, either at Sea Bright or the Sandy Hook National Park.

      • Many, particularly migrant children, have never been over the great dividing range.
        There is hardly any traffic on the main roads out
        West compared to the coastal Pacific Highway.
        The beaches in Sydney are highly underpopulated.
        Sure, Bondi is full of backpackers.

        Taking the children to the beach was easy.
        We had to get them out of bed, drove to Mona Vale and stayed until it was too hot.
        On a Sunday in Summer there would be maybe 200 on the beach by 11AM.
        Only campers on school holidays really get to the beach.
        A lot of the problem is working hours.
        Many in the West of Sydney commute for at least three hours a day.
        By the time the weekend comes it is catch up time.
        The roads to the beaches are clogged and hot by 3 pm when they are ready to drive there.
        When I tell people we are going to say Condoblin or Moree they say,’ never heard of that place’.
        One close to me put up a delightful Chinese family in a country area and they had to leave.
        They could not handle the silence and darkness.
        Zazove, come and visit Australia, we are worth a visit.
        Just for the record, guns are strictly regulated, there is no constitutional right, or natural
        right for that matter, to bear arms.

      • I’m with Zazove on this one. Unless I see the report and it seems valid, sounds like bollocks to me. I live more than 1km from the ocean, yet I can see if from my south facing windows.

      • You would need to be remarkably ignorant to believe that. I would even say profoundly so. People travel from 100’s of miles to go to the beach in Australia. It is part of our culture. If you lived 1km away from the beach it would be part of your life.

        • yeah they do, I knew a families from Kelleberin and Bunfinch who traveled every school holidays to the coast without fail. However, folks living in Trig where I spent a few years.. not so much.

      • Karlos, I have lived on the Australian east coast all my life, and, how can I be kind?…that’s close or equal to the GREATEST KROCK I EVER HEARD!

    • It could be renamed GREATER barrier reef
      since a warmer ocean will increase the area suitable for coral growth.

  3. What the frick is “the press and pulse of climate trends” and how is it that species that are claimed to be adapted to high natural climate variability are unable to cope once the anthropogenic label has been applied absent any evidentiary proof? Sudden change? There are no proven climate trends reported that exceed natural variability or seem different from changes we can ellucidate from the the preindustrial era either in magnitude or velocity. Extreme weather events? There is nothing, absolutely nothing here that is new, other than a pathological preoccupation of the liberal media and the most radical and religious element of the environmental movement.

  4. ‘…..highlighting that undisturbed systems are not necessarily more resilient to climate change.’

    All living things have to adapt or move on, so its nonsense to suggest that ecosystems are not necessarily more resilient after millions of years of adaptation. Central Australia is pristine like a Martian landscape.

  5. So, how bad were these ecosystems when the temps were even higher than they are now?

  6. Nobody can find the actual damage being done by global warming, but don’t worry, the models say that it is there and everybody knows that models are never wrong.

  7. Intelligent wildlife conservation is possible. One of the groups I’ve always looked up to is Ducks Unlimited. Maybe the folks who really really care about the Great Barrier Reef could take some lessons from Ducks Unlimited. You don’t hear alarmist propaganda from Ducks Unlimited, they just get down to work and do things that help.

  8. The Conversation huh? So named because the domain name Dissenters-will-be-banned was unavailable. The simple fact it was published here tells us a lot about both the paper’s target audience and how seriously the rest of the world should be taking it.

    There are also some very interesting claims being made here. Take the line “actively protecting vulnerable ecosystems from destructive bushfires”.

    Sorry kids, but if you wanted to do that in Australia you probably should have started many thousands of years ago. Pre 1788 ‘land management’ often consisted of burning everything downwind in order to assist in the hunting process. As a result of this the Australian environment was ‘encouraged’ to become largely fireproof to the extent there are actually some types of Australian tree that will only germinate AFTER the extreme heat of a bushfire.

    Sweeping statement I know, but in many ways NOT burning Australia every couple of years is bad for the ecology.

    • one thing you dont see near bushfires, climate change alarmists. They leap into the fray when the media vans arrive.

    • Re fire and Australia

      Bill Gammage “The biggest estate on earth: how aborigines made Australia”

    • Lefty/greenies have imposed reactionary enviro policies that create huge amounts of sickly and over crowded trees and brush.
      When fire does breakout now they tend to be worse.

    • Many conifers need forest fires to germinate. It’s not uncommon wherever wildfires are possible.

  9. This rubbish is on a par with stuff that turns up in my email spam directory. The Press Pulse Theory seems to be popular among the Anthropocenists, Capitalocenists, so may be a favourite of the Idiocenists in general. Needless to say. the shifts they are claiming are either (a) normal or more likely (b) entirely non-existent.

  10. Look at NOAAs sea temp anomaly map. Australia is commpletely surrounded by cold water. The GBR is bathing in it, too. I dont see the new climate communications strategy of unbridled hysteria working for them but it is an improvement on the Ship of Fools strategy. Australia has the highest per capita number of climate Liliputians on the loose so they are the canary in the coal mine for detecting the collapse of the global clime syndicatd ecology.

    I have to give it to them though, scaring all the tourists away was a creative twist to the strategy.

    https://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/ocean/sst/anomaly/

  11. Apparently Australia has turned into a Mad Max wasteland; or it soon will if we don’t send them money right now without question.

  12. I was shown underwater pictures of a local reef yesterday. One year after the devastation caused by cyclone Debbie, the reef is recovering. It’s like spring growth after a frosty winter. The GBR is very resilient.

  13. Maybe I should call my friend Peter in Brisbane and alert him. Sounds like he should leave. Not a second to lose.

    • Get out now!

      Except for South Australia which must be a paradise since they have all those windmills.

  14. It is difficult to read this paper without laughing out loud.
    Twenty one authors.
    Species extinction again.
    In Australia we have an infestation of cane toads since they were disasterously introduced in the 1930s to combat cane beetles.
    They are heading west and south from North Queensland at an alarming rate.
    Is there any prospect that climate change can eradicate these pests or are only nice fauna at risk?

    • The crows figured out how to eat them. They flip them over and eat the stomachs, avoid the poisonous parts. Cane toads are a lot rarer these days, and a lot more timid.

      • And I thought the crows liked hanging around McDonald’s, Hungry Jack’s and Red Rooster.

        • at Hamilton Vic the crows hanging round the fast food outlets were amazing..theyve replaced the seagulls we hardly see any more..hmm? maybe the junk food from decades past wiped the gulls out?

      • I was at Lake Argyle in March and they were everywhere. But you did see the occasional eviscerated one. I heard that some of the smaller carnivorous marsupials were also eating them.

      • Brilliant stuff!! now can someone teach them how to deal with Cockatoos? we have plague numbers atm

        • I’ll trade you for our bats, bat faeces can eat holes through vehicle paint…

          • bat shi*t can give you Hendra too! as well as a risk of Nipah though theyve not reported i guess they also havent tested
            and then Lyssa virus IS also a definite.
            Id far rather they culled the damned bats, the cockies are a seasonal nusiance but they do trim trees pretty well . and if your aerials taken a hiding get the repair dudes to string the cable into 2 inch polypipe they can’t chew through, problem solved!
            repair guys bitch about doing it BUT its because they like the money made on callouts n re wiring of course.

      • Growing up in north Queensland, cane toads were prolific. We’d go around in the evening collecting them on a pitchfork, but never made a dent in the numbers. Hundreds of them under every streetlight feasting on insects. If going out to dinner, I’d try to run over as many as I could; this reduced my wife’s appetite and saved me money. But today, you rarely see a toad.

      • The only problem with Australia that really bothered me was those damn flies. When I lived there I complained about them. One person I was complaining to ask me if we had flies in merica. I said yes but not like the one you got. Those sobs are mean. They will wait outside the entrance of buildings then fly around and on your face until you get back inside. I would like to live there but then I remember those damn flies and think eh maybe not.

  15. And here I am living next to the Reef on a coal and LNG harbour. I am having baramundi, caught on the reef from just out the harbour mouth. The dolphin pod in the harbour has a baby. The sea eagles have finished nesting. The racket from the wild birds feeding on the tree flowers is settling because it’s winter. The islands are green. There is coral growing in the harbour mouth (it’s a fresh water estuary. And there is a huge plague of tourists, all come to visit the pristine reef.
    I do not know where these free loading authors come from, but they certainly have never visited the central zone of the Great Barrier Reef. In 40 years living here, it’s the best I’ve ever seen. Must been the CO2, can’t be the temperatures because on average they have fallen in winter.

  16. After decades employed in Australian mining, I can but pity people like the authors who mention destruction by mining and by climate change in the one breathless breath. Poor souls have not been around enough to see the miniscule area affected by mining, or the expensive rehab that follows as a part of the cost package. More on the plus side, Australian miners have often been in the vanguard of research into their local regions and heavy hitters when paying for precautionary measures and further research and remediation. I am proud of this record, but not at all proud of propaganda laden pseudo scientists.
    These authors are too light on knowledge of past conditions. What they see now as disaster might well be part of the way it has been for centuries. You can cherry pick weather records about heat waves to show that they have become a. More frequent and b. Less frequent. Geoff

    • Mining is next to Monsanto in the lexicon of green hatred, very much guilty even if proven innocent. A recent report on the BBC World Service about an investigation into Glencore started with the statement “Glencore is controversial to many because it is involved in mining”.

  17. I´m not from Oz myself, but I’ve been there a number of times the last 40 years, and spent a lot of time in the bush (more than most Australians probably). I’ve seen the bush when wet and I’ve seen it when dry.

    And I’ve learned not to believe what I read about it. I remember in late 2008 I was in Sydney for a congress. Of course I had read about the terrible drought gripping Australia, and I had been doubtful whether it would be worth it taking a holiday in the Mallee and the South Australian Ranges (two of my favorite areas) when I was finished. Fortunately I did. And what did I find? Water-levels were low, true, but the vegetation was doing perfectly well, and so was the wildlife. Now, Australian wildlife is adapted to periodic severe drought, and one of the adaptions is that they stop breeding when conditions get too tough. Not so in 2008, every female ‘roo had a joey, the daddy emus were herding the usual number of chicks and the malleefowl were tending their mounds as usual.

    There has been a lot of extinctions in Australia, true. And none of them had anything to do with climate, and everything to do with cats, foxes, rats, hogs and rabbits.

  18. Why oh why, would you replant trees in a forest area that is dying due to increasing climate change? The poor blighters would stand no chance of surviving because whatever killed off the big trees is getting worse. Take heart however CO2 can’t cause climate change as it has not caused global warming since 2000 and even the IPCC acknowledges that climate change is not making bad weather events worse.

  19. This right here is the whole purpose behind “climate change” formally “global warming” formerly “global cooling” and formerly “world overpopulation”.

    This is the motivation behind it all: Send us money!
    What they don’t add is the second part of that sentence: You stupid saps!

  20. Some while ago, Australia was covered in rainforest and, surprise surprise, endured the attendant temperate (small daily & annual variation) climate that that caused.
    Some ‘smart’ critters came along and couldn’t handle that. It was a difficult place to obtain food if you didn’t have wings or weren’t good at tree-climbing.
    No matter, they brought the trees down to them and burned holes in the forest to corral other (edible) critters.
    The ‘smart’ critters used fire to do that, safe in the knowledge that the trees would grow back. How could they not. They were everywhere. And *just* kept growing. What could *possibly* go wrong?

    Well. Something patently did go wrong. Because one day the ‘smart’ critters started a small fire and before they knew it, the entire continent burned to a cinder.
    Oh dear. They hadn’t realised how old Australia was and how fragile its dirt was.
    They had created a desert. With its attendant climate of highly unpredictable extremes.
    That was about 30,000 years ago.
    The place still is a desert.
    Live with it

    (A few descendants of the fire-starters are still around – riddled still with guilt – hence their enigmatic nature)

    And today?
    ‘Smart’ critters are making the same mistake.

    • and as regards “please send money”
      Any chance of us sending them rocks & stones?

      The Brain-Deads would never speak to you again.
      (Mmmmmm, I haz the silver lined cloud)

      Like how the boys & girls on Easter Island used ground up rock to fertilise their soil nigh on 300 years ago.
      (While the girls were still around i.e. before the Dutch abducted many of them and precipitated the Lord of the Flies regime that James Cook came upon)

      Whoever made ‘that craic’ about “the Stone Age didn’t end because blah blah” had better eat their words.
      A new Stone Age had better kick off pretty damn soon or we are all going the way of The Aborigine (and Australia)

      • There was exactly one dutch visit to Easter Island before Cook, Roggeveen in 1722, and they didn’t abduct anybody.

        Are you perhaps thinking of the Peruvian slave-raid in the 1860’s?

      • Peta, you do Newark no credit with that nonsense. The cause of the state of Australia’s forestry was good old Climate Change (natural version). Yes the Aboriginals used fire, but even if they weren’t there, lightning would have started fires. Where do you get that Schist from?

    • strewth Peta (arent you well named!) what utter rubbish!
      the wipeout of a lot of the “rainforest” you claim existed was the bloody ICEAGE and dry we also copped.
      I am really amazed someone can be so thick to try n posit that the entire damned continents trees bar a select few was burnt out.
      cue raucous laughter..
      the eucalypts are the woody weeds that established niches and outgrow far better less fireprone trees like the mountain ash etc sadly they dont regenerate like the weedy ones learnt to do.
      betcha the areas in qld burnt last yr are doing the regen thing already

    • Aboriginal burning and elimination of the megafauna has almost certainly affected the vegetation big time. For example previous interglacials did not have nearly as much eucalypt woodland as the current one. However it is many million years since mainland Australia was mostly (temperate) rainforest. Not since the continent drifted into the desert zone as a matter of fact.

      Though there is now quit a bit of tropical rainforest in the young, mountainous northern part of the continent, which is however temporarily separated from the rest by the high interglacial sea-level.

  21. what an absolute steaming pile!!!!!
    the names are unknown
    so I’m guessing the up n coming greentard uni grads might be the guilty?
    dunno
    whoever they are they should STFU and go get a real job.

  22. The (non)Conversation is openly alarmist.

    a·larm·ist
    əˈlärməst/
    noun
    1.
    someone who is considered to be exaggerating a danger and so causing needless worry or panic.
    a·larm·ist

    Like the troll David Appel, most climate fanatics are arrogant enough to brag about their alarmism.
    Everytime a climate extremist openly practices alarmism, the publuc should be reminded of what they are actually admitting:
    they are deceitful and not to be trusted.

  23. Are you sure that the GBR existed 2000 years ago? If it is true that the GBR is dying now, why has it survived the warm periods of the last 10,000 years?

    • The GBR is about 800,000 years old according to drill cores. During that time it has died and regenerated about 10 times, since it ends up on dry land as a low limestone range every ice-age. And since glacials are much longer than interglacials it has actually been dead about 90% of those 800,000 years.

      But on the other hand another and just as large reef comes to the surface halfway between Qld and New Caledonia during ice ages.

  24. I have a solution. Send me $1billion US now and I will fix everything. I promise! Really.

  25. Environuts say the same thing about ecosystems in every capitalist country. Most people live in urban areas and have never seen one of those ecosystems so they’re easy to fool.

  26. Typical “The Conversation” alarmism, making the mostest disaster out of the leastest facts. Their big boogeyman is the 2016 bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).

    The 2016 bleaching was due to the El Nino, which caused water to slosh eastward from the western Pacific, lowering sea levels at the GBR. The tops of the shallowest reefs were now exposed to many more hours of daytime sunshine and UV, and the corals that were exposed at low tide for many more hours than they could handle, cooked in the sun. None of the usual suspects, ocean warming, ocean ‘acidification’ or CO2 back-radiation had anything to do with this bleaching. But round them up anyway, because this is “The Conversation.”

    And they also remark about some big wildfires burning large swaths of brushland, and some mangrove swamps drying up and dying during a period of drought. I’m sure neither of those two things has ever before happened in the history of Australia. /sarc

  27. You can tell it’s trash when you see phrases such as this:
    “loss of relictual communities and shifts into novel ecosystems”.
    Relictual, is that something like victual, something to eat. No, they mean “relict”, from relic- small things left over from something past.
    Novel? New? maybe.

  28. I was unaware that bushfires are a threat to aussie ecosystems, the vast majority of which have evolved to rely on/survive bushfires.

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