Coral Reefs Can Take The Heat, Unlike Experts Crying Wolf

From The GWPF

  • Date: 26/12/18
  • Peter Ridd, The Australian

This unreliability of the science is now a widely accepted scandal in many other areas of study and it has a name: the replication crisis. When checks are made to replicate or confirm scientific results, it is regularly found that about half have flaws.

Scientists from James Cook University have just published a paper on the bleaching and death of corals on the Great Barrier Reef 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 careless, but to do it repeatedly looks like unforgivable systemic unreliability by some of our major science organisations.

The very rapid adaptation of corals to high temperatures is a well-known phenomenon; besides, if you heat corals in a given year, they tend to be less susceptible in the future to overheating. This is why corals are one of the least likely species to be affected by climate change, irrespective of whether you believe the climate is changing by natural fluctuations or because of human influence.

Corals have a unique way of dealing with changing temperature, by changing the microscopic plants that live inside them. These microscopic plants, called zooxanthellae, give the coral energy from the sun through photosynthesis in exchange for a comfortable home inside the coral. When the water gets hot, these little plants effectively become poisonous to the coral and the coral throws them out, which turns the coral white — that is, it bleaches.

But most of the time, the coral will recover from the bleaching. And here’s the trick: the corals take in new zooxanthellae, that floats around in the water quite naturally, and can selectselecting different species that are better suited to hot weather.

Most other organisms have to change their genetic make-up to deal with temperature changes — something that can take many generations. But corals can do it in a few weeks by just changing the plants that live in them.

They have learned a thing or two in a couple of hundred million years of evolution.

The problem here is that the world has been completely misled about the effects of bleaching by scientists who rarely mention the spectacular regrowth that occurs. For example, the 2016 bleaching event supposedly killed 93 per cent, or half, or 30 per cent of the reef, depending on which headline and scientist you want to believe.

However, the scientists looked only at coral in very shallow water — less than 2m below the surface — which is only a small fraction of all the coral, but by far the most susceptible to getting hot in the tropical sun.

A recent study found that deep-water coral (down to more than 40m) underwent far less bleaching, as one would expect. I estimate that less than 8 per cent of the Barrier Reef coral died. That might still sound like a lot, but considering that there was a 250 per cent increase in coral between 2011 and 2016 for the entire southern zone, an 8 per cent decrease is nothing to worry about. Coral recovers fast.

But this is just the tip of the exaggeration iceberg. Some very eminent scientists claim that bleaching never happened before the 1980s and is entirely a man-made phenomenon. This was always a ridiculous proposition.

A recent study of 400-year-old corals has found that bleaching has always occurred and is no more common now than in the past. Scientists have also claimed that there has been a 15 per cent reduction in the growth rate of corals. However, some colleagues and I demonstrated that there were ­serious errors in their work and that, if anything, there has been a slight increase in the coral growth rate over the past 100 years.

This is what one would expect in a gently warming climate. Corals grow up to twice as fast in the hotter water of Papua New Guinea and the northern Barrier Reef than in the southern reef. I could quote many more examples.

Read the full GWPF story  here.

Peter Ridd was, until fired this year, a physicist at James Cook University’s marine geophysical laboratory.

Original source paywalled. The Australian, 26 December 2018

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72 thoughts on “Coral Reefs Can Take The Heat, Unlike Experts Crying Wolf

  1. Given that there is coral in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, I doubt that the Great Barrier Reef was actually in trouble.

    • The average shallow water temperatures published for the Great Barrier Reef vary between 22 to 28 deg C, or 71 to 82 deg F. Actually, that’s rather cool compared to the eastern Gulf of Mexico where shallow water temps can easily reach 90 deg F in the summer, every year, yet the corals grow quite well here too. In fact, the current water temperature today in Tortola, BVI – that’s late December, one of the coolest months of the year since Tortola is still well north of the equator – is 81 deg F – about equal to the highest temps in the Great Barrier Reef. I can attest to the fantastic coral reefs around Tortola.

      Corals just aren’t that sensitive to water temps … and to the degree there is sensitivity, it is addressed by the position within the water column of the corals .. if a particular coral species doesn’t like “hot” water, then it grows deeper in the water column.

    • We have dived all through Indonesia, PNG, Philippines, Solomons, where water temps are in high 20sC, and conditions are brilliant. No troubles with coral, why is the GBR singled out for AGW damage?

    • It’s fortunate they don’t drill for oil or gas in the Persian Gulf as that would be the end of the coral for sure.

  2. As always, the alarmists had to ignore everything that has been known for decades and decades to foist their scare stories.
    Nothing in this report is news to me.
    It is what I and other realists have been saying all along.

    • It isn’t new is that someone who’s studied the reefs for 30 years who doesn’t toe the CAGW line has to be silenced. It’s so scary that Cook Universities research $$$ is under threat of disappearing if the public actually every understands what’s really going on, (all facetiousness intended there). I also wish it had changed that the believers systematically attempt to silence and simultaneously discredit anyone who actually studies the planet. Anyone that sees data which totally refutes and says just the opposite the fund sucking leeches say it says dares dispute the politically correct gospel and must be excommunicated from the holy science church. It’s just the opposite of what science is supposed to do and the true planetary tragedy. If anyone deems it worthy to help Peter out there’s a link at this story I think https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/02/08/peter-ridd-hits-back-at-jcu-james-cook-university-hard/.

      Keep up the fight poor physicists, real scientists, and the millions of us who really know what’s going on.

  3. So, I’m guessing they fired Peter Ridd because he has a tendency to just blurt out the truth? You know, without regard to funding issues, concensus views, political slogans, snowflakes and safe zones, etc?

  4. The explanatory version of science process must prevail over alarmist science or society and science lose out.

    Thanks, this is great info.

  5. Speaking of “experts crying wolf”, this just in: San Fran Nan has said she will appoint Florida Representative Cathy Castor to head a global warming committee in the new congress. Kathy has degrees in Political Science and Law, and the Science part of Social Science will let her show Peter Ridd the error of his ways. Save the corals! Jesus, I need a drink.

    • Come now, why would you need a scientist when the science is settled and it’s so simple even a Republican can understand it? CO2 is the master control knob making it hotter. The world ends unless we implement world socialism immediately. What part of implementing world socialism needs a scientist? Her choice is very practical.

  6. In the UK such backtracking is known as a reverse ferret. Or in this case rats carefully deserting the sinking AGW ship.

  7. A question never answered by Alarmists: why did the GBR not go extinct during the Medieval or Roman Warm Period, when températures were higher than today?

  8. Peter,
    Thanks for the update! In 2 paragraphs you refer to ‘A recent study….’. Could you provide references to these 2 studies?

  9. Having more brave scientists of integrity who risk all in these postnormal, amoral times is what this dodo science needs more of unfortunately. When officialdom 40yrs ago created scares of post 1950 temperature rises of 5-7C by 2100 with “business as usual” CO2 additions, they also were certain there had been no significant CAGW prior to 1950.

    There were problems with this picture hammered by sceptics. First, the temperature series by the late 1990s indicated that the 20 years of warming that was causing all the hype, was barely a recovery from an almost 40yr deep cooling down from the mid 1930s-early 1940s that had many of the scientificos ringing alarms that the “Ice Age Cometh” and it was all man’s fault.

    The uncomfortable facts of this is that the 0.8C increase from 1850 all took place prior to the 1940s with CO2 static at about 280ppm and a 35% increase in CO2 thereafter had occurred accompanied by the ice age scare cooling period. Another fact was that no sooner had temperatures “recovered” to 1940 levels by 1998 (some say 1997), the climate slipped into rhe “Dreaded Pause” for as long as the hyped warming had lasted!

    Led by GISS’s James Hansen, the clime synicate set about to drastically rejigger these in-their- faces terminal falsifications of CO2 global warming theory. They pushed the 30s-40s hot period down most of a degree C, thereby getting rid of the embarrassing pre 1950s record highs and tilting the Ice-Age-Cometh slope the other way so that the warming from 1850 was more or less continuously rising.

    But what to do with the multiple degrees C predictions not showing up by the early 2000s? Well, they pushed the 1950s starting gate back to 1850 so that they could bank the 0.8C, added 0.7C more on as the target total we must not exceed by 2100! Ninety- seven percent of the world apparently took this in their stride!

  10. Universities first and foremost require funding to survive. Good science increases funding while Bad science decreases funding.

    it matters not if your science is correct if your institute goes belly up. It matters not if your science is complete rubbish if your institute prospers.

  11. Claas Relotius, the ex-Der Spiegel award winning journalist and fake story cheat would make a great climate science alarmist.

    Now he is accused of taking money for saving fictional Syrian children.

    He would also make a great VW exec.

  12. I guess it would just kill them to admit CO2 limiting triggers bleaching…..they need more CO2

    Inhibition of photosynthetic CO2 fixation in the coral Pocillopora
    damicornis and its relationship to thermal bleaching

    http://jeb.biologists.org/content/jexbio/217/12/2150.full.pdf

    Breakdown of the coral-algae symbiosis: towards formalising a
    linkage between warm-water bleaching thresholds and the growth
    rate of the intracellular zooxanthellae

    https://www.biogeosciences.net/10/1647/2013/bg-10-1647-2013.pdf

    • For 200 years the coral somehow survived without our help “saving” it. Oops not 200 years, 200 millennia. Oops not 200 millennia, 200,000 millennia.

      Has even one of these fools stopped to contemplate how much natural climate change has occurred over the period of time that coral has existed?

      • ”Has even one of these fools stopped to contemplate how much natural climate change has occurred over the period of time that coral has existed?”

        No……no they haven’t.

  13. ResourceGuy hits the nail on the head. Claas Relotius fed the bosses at Der Spiegel exactly what they wanted. The more BS he shoveled the more awards he won the better his bank account looked. Scientists are not immune to the foibles of being human. They are not above standing on a stack of bovine mess declaiming the correct course we should take.

    Trust in institutions including science breaks down when it becomes obvious that exaggerations inflated to lies are told. When predicted outcomes do not happen. When repeated catastrophes result from following the proffered advice. You do not have to be a student of Soviet style central planning to know that it was based on wishful thinking, falsified data, and ultimately could not produce enough food or consumer goods to merit it’s existence. It also relied on repression to maintain itself. That last bit we have to watch out for.

    • Troe, you are too cynical in excusing them because they exhibit an inability to resist temptation of all kinds. Yes there are foibles to be considered, but I think the majority of humans have a higher standard they strive for.

      To be a scientist, a seeker of truth, one should be at least a couple of levels up in the honesty scale above the basement of human depravity and we should expect the highest level of integrity. People go into science to be in the rarefied fratern(soror)ity of the greats we all know that gave science the goodwill that is now being wantonly squandered. And it’s hard to become a scientist. Yes some get bought out, some have been corrupted in the designer-brain factory of “progressive” education, some are afraid to countenance ‘heretical’ thoughts and have been bullied. But don’t think for a moment that that is acceptable and even standard fare for a scientist.

  14. Almost all corals grow at, or towards the equator….does that not mean anything to the … “experts” and “scientists?”
    During an El Nino vast amounts of water are blown, and by the changed ocean currents towards Sth America, and subsequently tides are lower on the Nth East Coast and above Australia thereby further exposing the corals to the sun….after the El Nino it all goes back to normal…problem identified and the lack of a need for a solution identified…in two sentences…can I have my check now please, as I have just saved the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars otherwise spent on the insane imaginings of morons?

  15. “It appears as though they exaggerated their original claims and are quietly backtracking …”.
    =========================================================
    Dr Ridd’s case against JCU for unjustified sacking for disputing exaggerated GBR dying claims is due to be heard in the New Year and although the case is more about a contractual rather than scientific matter, I’m wondering if this new paper is an attempt by JCU to present as a more reasonable case, i.e. they would have carried out a reassessment anyway and Dr Ridd ‘jumped the gun’ as it were.

    • Although it is possible, legal advisors would have said not to give the enemy any ammunition. Much more likely is that the researchers (note I don’t call them scientists) saw that their reputations were being damaged by the overt political nature of their previous papers and were trying to recover some part of their reputation.

  16. There are a few problems with this post. It gives no references, so it’s not possible to check either the stories he says are reporting recovery, or the ones that he is railing against.

    “It appears as though they exaggerated their original claims and are quietly backtracking.”

    This is nothing but a prejudicial way of saying that science is a self-correcting process. Research is done, results are reported based on what is known at the time. More research is done, new information becomes available, and that, too, is published. If someone is going to attack people for exaggeration, the media (and often press releases) are usually far worse than the researchers.

    Ridd’s public attacks on his fellow researchers (and research institutions) as being untrustworthy are what got him in trouble, not the fact that he disagreed with them.

    It’s not in dispute among most scientists that corals have undergone past bleaching. The problem is when bleaching events are extremely widespread, and they are either prolonged or occur in rapid succession. Bleaching doesn’t always kill corals, but it can, either directly or by making them more susceptible to other unfavorable factors.

    Apparently Ridd isn’t aware of the research documenting bleaching in deep water.
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180904114714.htm

    Mass bleaching events apparently can lead to decreased biodiversity (though it’s hard to know how long that lasts)
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/gcb.14119

    This paper contradicts the claim that past bleaching makes corals less susceptible to successive events: “Our aerial surveys indicate that past exposure to bleaching in 1998 and 2002 did not lessen the severity of bleaching in 2016.”
    https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ecy.2092

    Saying reef can recover from bleaching is hardly news. But Ridd’s piece neglects the full range of concerns.

    It’s important to realize this is an opinion piece, not a scientific document. Those who take it as refuting all the scientific concerns about coral bleaching are choosing to believe the opinion of one man that researchers in general can’t be trusted. But why trust him, and not the hundreds of others he condemns? What has he done to earn such blind trust? He does research on coral, sure, but not research that looks at impacts of temperature. He is certainly not the only one with knowledge of coral symbionts and adaptation. He may be right, but to assume so because he delivers a message one wants to believe is not practicing skepticism.

    • If someone is going to attack people for exaggeration, the media (and often press releases) are usually far worse than the researchers.
      —-
      Bullcrap!!…..kristi did you even read the first link you posted?..you couldn’t have read it and posted what you did….

      Lead author Dr. Pedro Frade from the Center of Marine Sciences (CCMAR) says the research team was astounded to find bleached coral colonies down to depths of 131 feet beneath the ocean’s surface. “It was a shock to see that the impacts extended to these dimly lit reefs, as we were hoping their depth may have provided protection from this devastating event.”

      astounded!!….shock!!!…impacts!!!….devastating!!!!….oh the drama

      Science is self-correcting when theses lying buffoons are called out on it…and not before

      • If the press release is exagerating, than an honest researcher would seek to set the record straight. Yet none of them do? Why is that kristi, is it because they are in on the scam as well?

      • Latitude,

        Whoops, meant to post the article, not the press release. My bad.

        https://www.ccmar.ualg.pt/sites/ccmar.ualg.pt/files/news/files/41467_2018_article_5741.pdf

        To say one is shocked is not the same as exaggerating. Scientists are human, they do have emotional responses to what they are studying, and that’s the kind of thing that comes out in a press release. Exaggerating could be saying, “The reefs are all dying!” or “The problem here is that the world has been completely misled about the effects of bleaching by scientists who rarely mention the spectacular regrowth that occurs.”

        Do you really think the “lying buffoons” care what Ridd says?

        Why do you believe they are the liars, and he isn’t? You think hundreds of scientists are lying, except for the one that has a book to flog and is looking for media attention, and has such close ties with the think tank publisher that they pay part of his court fees?

        I don’t understand the reasoning. But there’s a lot of reasoning these days that I don’t understand.

        I don’t understand why you posted your link.

    • It happens that I know a coral researcher and I am quite unimpressed by the manner each coral bleaching event is pumped as the doomsday approaching, frequently in a manner that is intended to justify continued funding. The alarmism is rife and irresponsible.

      By that I mean the facts are not presented in their entirety. Bleaching is as common as hen’s beaks and telling the whole story about their inevitable recovery is as common as hen’s teeth. There is blatant and sustained bias in stories about coral reefs, even when information is readily available. There are corals with symbiotes that survive 40 C. Others survive at much lower temperatures. Big fat hairy deal.

      Deeper water bleaching can be caused by cold water as happened in Florida a couple of years ago. There was widespread bleaching, but rarely is mention found of the fact it was caused by cold, not warmth. That is scientific disingenuousness. Disingenuity? Pick one.

      There is an excessive mount of BS in the coral bleaching story. All the coral islands in the Pacific are expanding and all coral reefs experience, and recover from, bleaching events, however caused.

      • Crispin,

        I don’t recall each bleaching event making headlines. The first notable one was in 1998, and I did a lot of scuba diving around then, but never heard about any big concerns.

        It’s the fact that they are happening repeatedly, and the last one was very widespread and prolonged, that got people concerned. The corals die if they can’t get there symbionts back soon, and in some areas there was quite a lot of coral death. Yes, some species are resilient, but then it gets to a question of diversity. And if different corals have different thresholds, what happens if the next event is even warmer, and more prolonged? That’s the real issue, I think. I don’t see why it’s BS.

        The deep water bleaching I read about was due to warm water, not cold.

      • ‘It happens that I know a coral researcher and I am quite unimpressed by the manner each coral bleaching event is pumped as the doomsday approaching, frequently in a manner that is intended to justify continued funding.’
        Speaking to one such researcher the situation in James Cook is a state of deep division.
        One wonders if this division has spilled into this thematic discussion,viz
        ‘Or maybe you’re psychotic, is that it? Is my voice in your head?’
        Dr Ridd’s appeal to have data independently verified is backed up by some of the articles on his web site.
        From the probity view, does the University and its scientific division demonstrate that agricutural run off is destroying the reef?
        From his publication there is no case to answer.
        However are his findings being ignored?
        Where is the scientific rebuttal of his findings?
        Analysis of old corals show bleaching is an established event.
        Will shutting down our industry and putting up solar panels actually change this?

    • You do not know how it works. Money drives the narrative and suppresses all opposition regardless of the strength of the opposition’s argument. Eventually truth will out but it’s got to get by the political gate keepers of science, no different than Hillary blaming Benghazi on a Youtube video.

      • But according to kristi, only money that doesn’t support her religious beliefs is corrupting. The people who agree with her don’t care about money and are incorruptible.

        • MarkW,

          LOL, you’re so funny!

          Or maybe you’re psychotic, is that it? Is my voice in your head? Wow, sorry, Mark, that must be disturbing. I hope it’s not a threatening voice. No need for paranoia, I’m pretty docile. Just try to remember that it’s a figment of your mind, and doesn’t have anything to do with me.

      • R Shearer,

        That is how you imagine it works. It’s your narrative.

        Sometimes I think the accusations about scientists being driven by financial or political concerns – driven to lie and suppress evidence – says a lot more about how people who make these accusations would act than it says about the accused. It might be different if there were any evidence of the behavior scientists are said to have.

        The incidents of fraud are pretty rare, considering how many scientists there are in the US alone – and how modest their incomes are. The one that sticks in my mind is Jay Lehr, director of science at Heritage, who along with a buddy defrauded the EPA of $200,000, and spent 6 months in prison for it. That was a while ago, though. Maybe he learned his lesson.

    • Scream a lie, then once the hoopla is over, quietly publish another paper that retracts most of the first.

      Science in the act of self correcting. Sheesh, more like kristi trying to put the best spin on the propaganda that she can.

    • Jesus Christ, Kristi, have you been studying at the Steve Mosher school of debate techniques, again? Coral “bleaching” occurs all over the world, all the time, for a myriad of reasons. Peter Ridd probably knows about most of the recent research on the topic, and for you to suggest otherwise is pure sophistry and a decidely weak argument. Of course, as you SHOULD know, he’s responding to the hysterics regarding the shallow coral bleaching of the GBR, which was due to the El Nino sloshing effect, which exposed massive amounts of shallow coral to direct sunlight during low tides, for weeks if not months. This baked the coral to death. So that’s what bleached the shallow corals. It was a natural event, caused by gravity and the loss of prevailing west winds in the Eastern Pacific. It was not climate change, it was not thermal effects of warmer water caused by CO2.

      So now you come in and quote some weak study of deeper coral found a few deep patches of coral bleaching? So what? Is the implication supposed to be that the same cause bleached both the shallow and the deep? Based on what new gnostic information that you have and we don’t? Logic dictates that the root causes are different. Deep corals were NOT exposed to direct sunlight for hours a day at low tide due to the 2016 El Nino slosh. Shallow corals WERE exposed. Pull your head out.

      • Mickey,

        What about the study is weak? Apparently you haven’t read it, so how do you know?

        They have temperature records, Mickey, at a range of depths.

        Bleaching began in mid-2014, before the El Nino, though the mass bleaching event was during the EN. Still, your “sloshing effect” hypothesis doesn’t account for the extremely widespread bleaching.

        https://www.noaa.gov/media-release/el-ni-o-prolongs-longest-global-coral-bleaching-event

        Your logic works against you.

      • …..Oh, and Mickey…I don’t know what research Ridd has read. But he’s not the only one who would be up on the research (if he is, which isn’t obvious if he thinks all the bleaching was shallow) – there are hundreds of people studying coral bleaching. My question is why you would believe one guy, rather than hundreds of others. What makes him so full of integrity, while the others (if you believe him) lack it? If you’re looking for a financial reason, he has at least as much to gain from publicity. Why did his very public accusations begin right around the publication of the book he contributed to? I find this an odd coincidence, myself. But I’m just looking at it from a LOGICAL perspective, when logic isn’t always correct where there are unknowns.

        • Kristi, are you not aware he was fired from Cook U, a tenured prof who criticized research of the GBR experts. If you are, are you OK with that.? And here you are okay with grant seeking troughers who have to toe the disaster narrative or they would likely be fired for the same sin of Peter Ridd. If Ridds was the money grubber you accuse him of, why wouldnt he just stay mum and get his pay and ultinately his nice pension? No he risked it all – he is a victim here because of his integrity. Flogging a book into a 97% market of zealous climate change automatons is not a good substitute for lost livelihood. Im thinking I could make a nice retirement on a bet against this amoral, or possibly obliviously innocent consensus crowd (which of the two possibilities would one prefer!).

          • Gary,

            Ridd was not fired for criticizing research. He was fired for repeatedly breaching the university’s code of conduct. He had multiple warnings, but still disobeyed his employer. In a business this wouldn’t be tolerated, so why should it be just because he worked for a university?

            I am all for scientific debate. It is one thing to criticize research, and quite another to say in a TV news interview, ““The basic problem is that we can no longer trust the scientific ­organisations like the Australian Institute of Marine Science, even things like the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.” This is not scientific debate, it is undermining the public’s trust in scientific institutions. I can understand why JCU would not look kindly on it.

            I don’t know what financial considerations Ridd had in mind when he said what he did or when he sued his employer but I do think it was a strange coincidence that he said such things just after the book was published. That is all I said.

            Obviously the intended market was not the consensus scientists, it was skeptics, of which there are many.

            Just as obviously, you’ve bought into the narrative that the scientific consensus is based on corruption and stupidity. I still haven’t seen anything but conjecture and assumption put forward to support it, but that doesn’t detract from its ability to make people see what they want to see. All it relies on is the never-ending flogging of climategate, as if that can be extrapolated to characterize every consensus scientist in the world. No wonder the skeptic crowd is so eager to believe that Ridd and all the others who have been censured are completely innocent of wrongdoing, martyrs who are only out to reveal the truth – who cares if in the process they convince the public that science can’t be trusted? Or rather, only their version of science is worthy of trust.

            I don’t argue that some scientists have been unfairly treated for their views. When that happens, it is not acceptable. But I don’t condone damaging people’s trust in science as an appropriate method of debate.

    • Do individual polyps live 14-18+ years on average, so they can develop clade strategies for future bleaching events?

      IIRC, past bleaching events have been shown to provide substantial resistance to bleaching for at least 5 years.
      Sorry, don’t have a cite.

  17. There are tropical brain corals at over 100 feet above sea level in the Galapagos. They are full of holes from scientists taking core samples. Scientists have had data about the adaptability of corals for a LONG time.

  18. Quote kristi silber……………………..

    ”Apparently Ridd isn’t aware of the research documenting bleaching in deep water.
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180904114714.htm

    Mass bleaching events apparently can lead to decreased biodiversity (though it’s hard to know how long that lasts)
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/gcb.14119

    This paper contradicts the claim that past bleaching makes corals less susceptible to successive events: “Our aerial surveys indicate that past exposure to bleaching in 1998 and 2002 did not lessen the severity of bleaching in 2016.”
    https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ecy.2092

    This is the kind of microcosmical, navel gazing, short sighted, unimaginative garbage thinking that leads to the problem in the first place. To think that humans are somehow able to spot a permanent temperature associated problem when looking at a million year old natural system even when there is an ongoing dispute about whether there is any warming at all is the height of arrogance. Peter Ridd himself said once that these days, scientists studying a system will inevitably find a problem with it. It’s almost like they NEED to find a problem or there is something wrong with THEM.
    Instead of protesting this post, go and bother the people who came up with this….

    ”GREAT BARRIER REEF IS DAMAGED BEYOND REPAIR AND CAN NO LONGER BE SAVED SAY SCIENTISTS”

    And just exactly do you save thousands of miles of reef anyway?

    • Mike,

      I think you’re the one who’s short-sighted. Coral reefs have enormous economic value in the fishing and tourism industries, and for their ability to protect coastlines from storms. They’ve been damaged before in storms, but on a localized scale. Even that can be a problem, which is why SEALS went in and repaired reef around Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

      There have been people snorkeling and diving them for many decades – you don’t think bleaching events would have been noticed? In the past 20 years, there have been 3 notable such events, the last one extreme and worldwide. Sure, many of the corals rebound, no doubt about it – but some die. And the ones that die are often certain species that don’t have the resilience that others do. Lowering biodiversity of corals can lead to biodiversity changes in the other reef inhabitants, and this could be a problem for the fishing and tourism industry.

      I don’t argue that what has happened so far is critical or catastrophic. But sea temperature is warming, and when you have El Ninos that increase that warming, you have even more stress on the system. If it’s short-term and not too warm, most corals can recover. But there are thresholds of time and temperature that can lead to die-off.

      If the bleaching events come at frequencies greater than their ability to recover and rebuild, you have gradual dying of more and more reef. This would be a problem – potentially a major one.

      The fact that is has happened in the distant past is irrelevant to whether it will affect humans now.

      You can deny that the sea temperatures are rising all you want, but that won’t change the facts.

      You can believe Peter Ridd if you want and ignore the hundreds of scientists who disagree. My question is, why would anyone do this? Why is there an assumption that he’s right, and they are wrong?

      I can’t change what the media say. I don’t agree with their exaggerations, but that’s the media – they are a for-profit industry, and it pays to exaggerate. I choose instead to call attention to what I see as bias on WUWT. I may bother people, true, and I may not make any difference. I wouldn’t learn as much discussing these issues with those with whom I agree, and I think I would get even more frustrated by their biases. I like to debate and be challenged because I like to learn. Besides, sites like these need people to challenge the status quo, or they become boring echo chambers – there ought to be many more people like me here, but one has to be thick-skinned to deal with the constant insults, and after a while the same old arguments can get dull.

  19. There are people who believe 97% of the reef is destroyed. My guess is they have never been to it or seen it.

  20. Meanwhile here I am looking out over the reef on Nikoi Island in Indonesia where 18 months ago I witnessed probably 50% of the reef bleached white. Today I saw virtually no evidence of bleaching and new expanding coral cover.

    I know this reef very well and that all bleaching events are not the same, but SSTs here regularly exceed 30 deg C. I suspect that is far warmer than most of the GBR most of the time.

    Truth is the south of the GBR is marginal for coral due to being too cold.

    • A correction to this post. I found further evidence showing mixed bleaching recovery. Some softer corals had near total recovery but other corals had dead patches with coral spreading across them. So probably on average 50% or more recovered in 18 months. However, most notable was the change in colours. This may be due to new adopted symbiots or young corals?

  21. As I understand it, coral bleaching does not kill the coral. The colour of the reef is from all of the life forms which use the reef as a nice comfortable home. In return they do pass on some ” Foodf” to the coral.

    Its obvious that location in the hottest parts of the globe does not worry coral. Its in the Red Seaa, one of the hottest, plus PNG, the town of Madang in the North East of New Guinea has a beautiful coral reef, and this is near the Equater.

    As for the Jaames Cook University its all about money. They must justify all the money they get, so they must say that the CBR is in trouble. As always just follow the money trail.

    MJE

  22. James Cook University, give Peter Ridd his job back, apologize to him for the travesty of his firing, give him his back pay, and make him the Chairman of the department.

  23. Suggestion: Take samples of reef organisms from the Red Sea, cultivate them in a large tank, and inject or spray them along the reef. Problem solved?

  24. The coral reef issue illustrates a common phenomenon: blaming AGW diverts attention from other environmental issues. Coral reefs have suffered all around the world from bottom-trawlers, dynamite, poison, and other direct assaults. In addition, the trophic cascades resulting from overfishing of keystone species probably have unpredictable effects on reefs. All of these issues become invisible when we focus on AGW as the cause. The same thing happens when a worsening flood-drought cycle is blamed on AGW, when in reality it is much more likely due to disruptions in the hydrological cycle caused by deforestation, poor agricultural practices, and urban development. (see for example the work of Kravcik et al: http://www.waterparadigm.org/download/Water_for_the_Recovery_of_the_Climate_A_New_Water_Paradigm.pdf
    The general point I want to make is that the AGW narrative, which seemed such a boon for environmentalism, may turn out to be quite a Faustian bargain. In fact I think it is a disaster for environmentalism. The coral reefs and marine biodiversity and would be better served if we put our energy into establishing marine preserves, fishery conservation programs, and reducing toxic pollution, rather than pinning environmentalism to a scientifically questionable theory. I know most commenters on this site do not identify as environmentalists, yet there are those of us who do identify as environmentalists who are skeptical of the conventional AGW theory.
    It is astonishing how those on the so-called Left can be so credulously enamored of the pronouncements of authority, whether it is scientific authority or, say, the MSM with regard to “Russiagate”. I thought the Left ws supposed to question authority, not smear anyone who disagrees with it. As we enter a time when established authority is rapidly losing its legitimacy, environmentalists are on shaky ground if their main message is “Believe what the establishment tells you.”

    • For some time, having lived long enough to have experienced serious pollution or worse, I have also been suspicious about this diversion of attention. Also there is the question as to how much (am certain some occurred) this has skewed the research, not only on environmental, but on other matters in science. There was a successful operational scientific world well before 1980, now it seems to be started around 2000 in some quarters.

      When NSF started throwing money around it allowed for more freedom of research. When accountability rose its ugly head it, counter-intuitively, removed a lot of the freedom. Actually, it wasn’t the accountability, it was top-down control along with other associated failing policies. Atomic science, among others, was successful by looking at numerous hypotheses, most not useful. Failures, statistically, are what are what help produce success. Now statistics produce (hypothetical) success.

  25. “Peter Ridd was, until fired this year, a physicist at James Cook University’s marine geophysical laboratory.”

    Best wishes from 2019 to further.

  26. Bikini Atoll coral took 50,000 degrees from nuclear testing and today is in pristine condition and growing like a forest.

    • yes… but… that was… ummmm… UO2… So that doesn’t count. 😀

      (/snark) 😀

      Also kids, remember if the Reef has been destroyed and can no longer be saved, then best we cancel all that Marine Park status and start strip mining the entire area, right?? 🙂

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