The Guardian: Can we Rescue the Great Barrier Reef?

Proof that reefs move. This coral was deposited in Western Australia (not the GBR) during the warm Eemian Interglacial, 120-130,000 years ago, when sea level was much higher than today. The much lower sea levels of today have left this ancient coral permanently exposed. Source McCulloch, M. T. & Esat, T. The coral record of last interglacial sea levels and sea surface temperatures. Chem. Geol. 169, 107-129

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Reef scientists claim to be worried coral bleaching will destroy the reef. But they neglect to mention a few key facts.

Rescuing the Great Barrier Reef: how much can be saved, and how can we do it?

Graham Readfearn @readfearn Email
Sun 5 Apr 2020 06.00 AESTLast modified on Sun 5 Apr 2020 07.33 AEST

As global heating makes coral bleaching a regular event, scientists are urgently seeking ways to help the world’s biggest reef survive.

When coral scientist Zoe Richards left the Great Barrier Reef’s Lizard Island in late January, she was feeling optimistic.

Richards is a taxonomist. Since 2011 she has recorded and monitored 245 coral species at 14 locations around the island’s research station, about 270km north of Cairns.

In 2017 she saw “mass destruction of the reef”. Back-to-back mass bleaching in 2016 and 2017, and cyclones in 2014 and 2015, had wreaked havoc.

But in January, she saw thousands of new colonies of fast-growing Acropora corals that had “claimed the space” left by dead and degraded corals. In a three-year window without spiralling heat or churning cyclones, some corals were in an adolescent bloom – not mature enough to spawn, but getting close.

“It was an incredible recovery,” says Richards, of Curtin University. “But I knew if it was hit again, it would be trouble – and that’s exactly what happened.”

Read more:

The “incredible recovery” is the clue. Corals are highly mobile, highly adaptable and resilient organisms. The larval form of Coral is a free swimming organism, which can actively seek a location to settle. Reef coral has repeated demonstrated its resilience, by surviving multiple mass extinctions including the event which killed the dinosaurs.

The Great Barrier Reef is only 6-8000 years old. 6-8000 years ago, the age of the Holocene Optimum, sea levels were 2m higher than today. Since the Holocene Optimum sea levels have dropped as the polar ice sheets expanded, yet the reef endured, continuously shifting to more favourable sites, as it has always done in response to changed circumstances.

Even if global warming does eventually kill off part of the Great Barrier Reef, this die off will be balanced by an expansion of the colder Southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, as warm water corals successfully invade cooler waters made habitable by global warming.

The reef does not need “rescuing”, any more than the weeds in your garden need rescuing.

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Al Miller
April 4, 2020 6:06 pm

The ignorance and arrogance of these so called scientists is stunning. As has been stated before, at least prostitutes serve a useful function in society unlike these lying leeches. I used to laugh at lawyer jokes, now it’s what do you call three climate scientists at the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef- a great start!

Reply to  Al Miller
April 4, 2020 7:52 pm

“The ignorance and arrogance of these so called scientists is stunning” and only to be exceeded by the media that supports them.

Reply to  Al Miller
April 4, 2020 10:18 pm

Al you began your comment with, “The ignorance and arrogance of these so called scientists is stunning.”

I’m not in agreement: The “so called scientists”, who rely on the gullibility of the brainwashed public, are playing their “Rescuing the Great Barrier Reef” tunes for the bureaucrats who fund them. The bureaucrats, of course, have their own agendas. The call for Rescuing the Reef could keep the “so called scientists” in funding for the durations of their careers. The “so called scientists” are playing the game and playing it well. The big question is: How and when does the game end?

Stay safe and healthy,

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
April 4, 2020 10:23 pm

“The big question is: How do we end this game? ”

Fixed it.

Bryan A
Reply to  Megs
April 5, 2020 12:22 am

Pure Reef(er) madness

Tim Crome
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
April 5, 2020 1:20 am

Look what happens to the real scientists who dare to question things this, such as Peter Ridd, they lose their jobs!

The same thing has happened to Susan Crockford, for saying that Polar Bears were thriving.

Reply to  Tim Crome
April 5, 2020 6:04 am

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away…

Richard (the cynical one)
Reply to  M.W.Plia
April 5, 2020 7:29 am

In times like these, when dissent bringS such a dire reaction, paranoia can be common sense. The forces that are threatened freedom of thought and expression can be vicious in defending the indefensible.

Dr. Bob
Reply to  M.W.Plia
April 5, 2020 9:14 am

Glad to see that someone still listens to Buffalo Springfield!

Phil Salmon
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
April 5, 2020 10:19 am

I just this minute heard a BBC documentary about coral reefs predict the extinction of coral in 30 years if current warming (sorry, hearing) continues. I plan to still be alive in 2050 to test that prediction. I’ll be a mere 85! The BBC embarrasses me (as a UK citizen) with such ignorant statements. Do they know nothing of geology or palaeohistory? Do they just mindlessly repeat political diktat with zero scientific curiosity of their own?

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Phil Salmon
April 5, 2020 11:33 am

This is still one of the funniest things I have read in years

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
April 5, 2020 3:28 pm

MR. Tisdale – I see that you are not disagreeing with Mark’s follow up: “at least prostitutes serve a useful function in society unlike these lying leeches.”

So, you two are not totally disagreeing.

April 4, 2020 6:14 pm

How many times has it to be said that water has 3000X more heat than air at the same temperature. Air cannot effect the temperature of water. That is simple thermodynamics 101

April 4, 2020 8:04 pm

Air doesn’t heat water. The sun does. Always has, always wil.
What air does is control how fast the heat that the sun puts into the water, can come back out.

Reply to  MarkW
April 4, 2020 9:22 pm

Clouds and everporation are more significant than slight changes in air temperatures.

Reply to  Sam Grove
April 5, 2020 10:11 am

All three matter.

Brett Keane
Reply to  MarkW
April 4, 2020 11:03 pm

Mark W, No. evaporative Latent Heat Transport rules and has c.ten times the needed capacity. Thunderheads form and punch through the Tropopause even, winds blow, and advection runs off with the non-blanket while chill rain returns fresh water to the sea surface.
Blankets may trap air, but air cannot be a blanket in an atmosphere. It is not a solid, but a fluid gas. Subject to different Physics Principals. Ask Maxwell (Kinetics of Gases). Brett Keane, NZ

Reply to  Brett Keane
April 5, 2020 10:12 am

It doesn’t act as a blanket, it’s basic thermal conduction. When the air warms, the water also has to warm in order to maintain the same rate of heat flow.

Another Joe
Reply to  MarkW
April 5, 2020 10:55 pm


there is no law in thermodynamic that says to preserve heat flow.

A heat flow of zero is a fine example, proving your thinking wrong.

I am correcting you, because instead of helping you keep up the unscientific view of the warmists. Please refrain from commenting in a matter you clearly have no knowledge of.

April 4, 2020 6:19 pm

This is a perfect time to push the false demise story. No one is visiting the reef, so no tourists will discover the truth.

April 4, 2020 6:22 pm

Nothing new here. Guardian headline “When did you stop beating your wife”.

April 4, 2020 6:37 pm

Thanks for the post Eric, they are having to ramp things up what with the Wuhan virus and all.

April 4, 2020 6:39 pm

“Can we Rescue the Great Barrier Reef?”

maybe we can and we should
and when we are done with that we can rescue the Maldives, and Bangladesh, and the Marshall Islands, and then Tuvalu, Nauru, and the shellfish of the deep with their shells being dissolved by ocean acidification, “the evil twin of climate change”.

But this task can be simplified by simply rescuing the planet in one big giant move if we can gather up the kind of AMBITION that our beloved leader Antonio Guterres wants us to have.

Komrade Kuma
Reply to  chaamjamal
April 5, 2020 8:07 am

recsue it from the pseudo scientists and we can all get a good night’s sleep.

O Olson
April 4, 2020 6:39 pm

I don’t think the reef needs saving. Freedom of speech and thought, and people like Peter Ridd do.

Reply to  O Olson
April 4, 2020 7:14 pm


Reply to  O Olson
April 4, 2020 10:25 pm

When bad science is the basis of laws, it has huge consequences. Laws designed to protect the Great Barrier Reef will wreak havoc on Australian farmers. Fortunately for them, Dr. Ridd is exposing the bad science in such a way that only the most craven and obdurate can ignore. example

As the former editor of The Lancet put it:

The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. link

It’s long past time to find a funding model that does not reward bad science over good science. With our tax dollars we are paying to be lied to.

Dr Cllr Ken Pollock
Reply to  commieBob
April 5, 2020 3:00 am

That quote may have been written in 2015, but it appears to be by Richard Horton. He is still the editor of the Lancet. I tend to agree with the sentiments expressed in the quote, but Horton is the man who said, at the end of January, coronavirus was unimportant and then more recently castigated the UK government for not reacting sooner – like at the end of January…
We all have feet of clay, it seems!

Reply to  Dr Cllr Ken Pollock
April 5, 2020 6:55 am

Yep, that’s the guy. I should have read more carefully.

April 4, 2020 7:01 pm

The Great Barrier Reef was here before humans, scientists and the Guardian. It will still be here long after the Guardian has gone and will outlive humans and scientists as well. Please note, scientists in my view are increasingly non-human. Intelligent yet idiots many of them. Climate Scientists are giving all science a bad name by refusing to discuss and debate and to allow their data to be viewed, non-scientific to religious in my view.

Reply to  Quilter52
April 4, 2020 7:10 pm


Humans walked to Australia long before the current Great Barrier Reef existed. The Sea level was about 400 feet lower only 18,000 years ago. Australia was most likely settled 70,000 years ago.

Ancestral Australians probably had villages where the current Barrier reef is located.

When AGW scientists talk about Sea level rise, they tend to gloss over the Natural 400 foot rise and try to scare us with a potential 3 foot rise.

Reply to  UNGN
April 4, 2020 7:33 pm

UNGN, Australian aboriginals were nomads and didn’t have villages. They would have had more makeshift shelters.

You are right though about the aboriginals being around when the Great Barrier Reef was a part of the mainland. It’s likely they lived and hunted in those areas before the ocean gradually inundated the land. The aboriginals didn’t drown, they simply moved gradually to higher ground, funny that.

Most people aren’t aware that the Reef is only 8 to 10 thousand years old. The ignorant fools think that what is now is what has always been. Go back a bit further and Australia had more mountains and forested areas. Things change, people adapt.

Reply to  UNGN
April 4, 2020 8:51 pm

Well UNGN, – Anatomically modern remains certainly go back in time a bit past 45,000 years ago (from present day) based on the Lake Mungo 3 skeleton in NewSouth Wales . The lowest gravel in the dug trench Mungo B, dated from up to 55,000 years ago contained no tooled stone flakes in contrast to earlier dated strata dated up to 52,500 years ago. I accept this does not preclude older ancient settlement(s) we do not know about.

Earlier settlement you mention is not something I can ascertain, although based on recent genetic interpretation extending the time line as far back as 70,000 years seems hard to reconcile. Aborigine mitochondrial DNA from 6 old sources compared to India mitochondrial DNA from 7 old sources shows their haplo-group M diverged 66,000 – 45,000 years ago as humans wended their way over from Africa.

April 4, 2020 7:09 pm

Can we Rescue the Great Barrier Reef from continual misinformation, propaganda distortions and the continual interest of the Grauniad? Fortunately, the Great Barrier Reef is large and very robust and shows no signs of dying out.

April 4, 2020 7:14 pm

How can we rescue common sense? The global hot air emitted by the warmista yammering is smothering it.

Damien Perry
April 4, 2020 8:19 pm

Do we really have to do the coral bleaching scare again, we already did this back in the 1980s.

April 4, 2020 8:23 pm

How do we know the coral isn’t dying from upwelling of cold water?

April 4, 2020 8:30 pm

Maybe these “scientists” could better spend their time dissecting how the Bikini Atoll coral lagoon has almost totally regrown, in less then 70 years since it was totally obliterated by atom bomb testing in the 1950s.

(But I guess that’s an upbeat factual story, so The Guardian is never likely to run it 🙁 )

Ian MacCulloch
April 4, 2020 8:31 pm

The current location of the Great Barrier Reef is that of Number 4 since 18,000 years BP. Excellent work reported back in 2011 from the IODP Expedition 325 Scientists lead by Yusuke Yokoyama is an excellent example of quality research using the drill to obtain high quality samples. The paper is presented in Scientific Drilling in the September 2011 volume. Their work from Northern Australia correlates nicely with the still stand positions of Bainbridge and others.

April 4, 2020 8:33 pm

Heard on the Great Barrier Reef: Can we save the Guardian?
Response: Why?

Reply to  MarkW
April 5, 2020 12:02 am

You win the internet today!!

Reply to  MarkW
April 6, 2020 5:23 am

Ha ha yes. It could be saved as “The Guardian of Future Imaginary Hobgoblins”

Ian MacCulloch
April 4, 2020 8:37 pm

In a paper in Scientific Drilling September 2011 edition Yusuke Yokoyama and others reported from the IODP Expedition 325: Great Barrier Reefs Reveals Past Sea-Level, Climate and Environmental Changes Since the Last Ice Age earlier survey that the current position of the Great Barrier reef in actually Reef Number 4. The results of the Yokoyama’s work correlates well with the sea level still stands as outlined by Fairbridge in 1960. With G A Brown I drilled those still stands in 1969 and the positions as forecast by Fairbridge was most accurate.

April 4, 2020 8:38 pm

Can we rescue it ? yes we can can!!
but we will have to wait from a problem it hasnt already faced in the last 100,000 years
otherwise we would just be talking rubbish and wasting time wouldnt we?

Reply to  yarpos
April 4, 2020 9:59 pm

It’s only 8 to 10 thousand years old Carlos.

Reply to  yarpos
April 4, 2020 10:01 pm

Sorry yarpos, stupid auto correct changed your name to Carlos.

April 4, 2020 8:43 pm

Speaking of anthropomorphizing things, does anyone else see a face on that outcropping of coral. Just below the shadow something that looks like a nose, and below that, two lips.

Bryan A
Reply to  MarkW
April 5, 2020 12:21 am

I see it and three fingers of the right hand holding the rock atop it’s head

April 4, 2020 9:23 pm

Me, Roundup, and a garden hoe.

My weeds need rescuing.

Where’s my money?

Do you have my money?

I was told there would be money.

Can I have some of your money?

April 4, 2020 9:38 pm

“The Great Barrier Reef is only 6-8000 years old.”
Sort of-
It could have been a lot bigger in the past though-
While they’re busy printing money can I get some grants to look into this climate emergency and bleached coral?

Reply to  observa
April 5, 2020 9:32 am

That cryogenian reef was long before there were any corals, it seems to have been deposited by purely chemical processes.
If you want to see an old real, biotic barrier reef go to Kimberley and take a look at the Devonian reef that is now known as Napier Range. Though that is mostly non-corallic too.

Or take a flight fom Brisbane or Cairns to Noumea. You will pass over a huge drowned reef complex, easily visible. It is partly to deep for corals now, but come the next glaciation it will come back to life as a reef at least as large as the Barrier reef (which will then have tuned into a low limestone range, like Napier Range).

April 4, 2020 10:52 pm

The Guardian, in fact all UK media except the Telegraph is a joke.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Matt_S
April 5, 2020 9:49 pm

There was a time when in printed for it was fit for purpose, smothered in fish, chips, fat, salt and vinegar and the bottom of budgie cages. I am not sure it is fit for either these days.

April 5, 2020 12:00 am

Why is this accepted without question? “The CRC Reef Research Centre estimates the age of the present, living reef structure at 6,000 to 8,000 years old”

Lots of other references show the reef being around in some form or other much longer. Is the CRC the final authority?
Others state the southern portion has been around 2 million years in the south and possibly as long as 18 million years in the north.
Others say it’s about 500,000 years old.
The disparity in declared age from source to source is huge!

Reply to  rah
April 5, 2020 3:37 am

Rah, I agree that saying the Great Barrier Reef age is 6-8 thousand years old is a bit myopic.

Reefs grow in shallow water if the water is warm enough. The reefs go up and down as sea level goes up and down.

Reefs have been growing in Australian water for the last ~20 million years when the land mass nudged from cold to tropical water. Reef structures in the current location of the Great Barrier Reef can be mapped over the last 500 thousand years through cycles of dramatic sea level changes due to global glaciation. The 6-8 thousand year stated age is tied only to the most recent interglacial period.

Reply to  rah
April 5, 2020 5:21 am

RAH: I was unaware of the existence of a journal devoted specifically to drilling expeditions so I looked for it and found that the article Ian (Dr?) Mac Culloch refers to is open access and contains much information pertinent to the comments on this post:
Some information relevant to your specific question :
-“The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is the world’s largest reef, extending 2000 km laterally northwest-southeast (Davies et al., 1989). Timing of the reef building is proposed to have started around 0.4–0.5 million years ago (Alexander et al., 2001), which coincides with the Mid Pleistocene Climate transition (MP T) (Hays et al., 1976; Clark et al., 2006) or Marine isotope stage (MIS 11; Webster and Davies, 2003). MIS 11 is known as one of the “warmest” interglacials during the Quaternary, and a period when the 100 -ka climate cy-clicity between glacial to interglacial states was fully estab-lished along with higher sea-level amplitudes.”-
Lots more in the paper – one of those useful to store, and it does acknowledge possible threats from warming and acidification.

Reply to  rah
April 5, 2020 9:40 am

The Great Barrier Reef in its present form has only existed for brief periods of about 10,000 years each at the peak of interglacials about every 100,000 years for about 800,000 years. It only exists in its present form because sea-levels during at least the 4 latest interglacials have been much the same.

Before 800,000 years ago interglacials were probably too short for major reef building.

Of course there has always been smaller reefs “shuttling” up and down the continental slope off Queensland as glaciers waxed and waned.

Brett Keane
April 5, 2020 12:06 am

Mark W, No. evaporative Latent Heat Transport rules and has c.ten times the needed capacity. Thunderheads form and punch through the Tropopause even, winds blow, and advection runs off with the non-blanket while chill rain returns fresh water to the sea surface.
Blankets may trap air, but air cannot be a blanket in an atmosphere. It is not a solid, but a fluid gas. Subject to different Physics Principals. Ask Maxwell (Kinetics of Gases). Brett Keane, NZ

Reply to  Brett Keane
April 5, 2020 10:16 am

Answered above

Michael F
April 5, 2020 12:13 am

Why is anyone listening to Graham Readfern? This man used to write for a just left of center Newspaper in Queensland a few years ago and the replies to his columns convinced him he needed to move further to the left. Clearly, he hasn’t moved far enough and needs to get on to a communist blog somewhere. Don’t give him any platform his work is just bizarre.

Reply to  Michael F
April 5, 2020 9:03 am

IIRC a few years back he had a live debate with Christopher Monckton in Brisbane.
Readfern left the stage in tears, and went into hiding.

April 5, 2020 12:18 am

I suggest Ms Richards becomes a saxophonist. She is NBG as a taxonomist.

April 5, 2020 2:07 am

During the last ice age, only 11 thousand years ago, the current GBR location was 140 m above sea level.

Reply to  Hans Erren
April 5, 2020 2:08 am


Ed Zuiderwijk
April 5, 2020 2:13 am

Notice the ‘global heating’.

That’s the thing I’ve been waiting for over the past months. We could do with some here in Livferpool.

Patrick MJD
April 5, 2020 2:34 am

The question should be, does it need rescuing? After all, it has been there a long time. I would say no.

Reply to  Patrick MJD
April 5, 2020 7:27 am

Nobody rescues the reef. It’s all about swanning about in boats with scuba gear on the taxpayer dime and to keep it coming dooming sells. When Peter Ridd virtually pointed that out with some real science it was a very bad career move and he has to be expunged by the enviro-industrial complex all the way to the highest Court in the land. Sound familiar?

The doomsters might have a problem down the track though. You see even before Covid19 there was a bit of a pushback from the tourism industry to tell them to ease off with the coral bleaching and the outrageous dooming as some folks were starting to believe there wasn’t much to see with a dead reef. Now Covid19 lockdown and no international travel has turned places like Cairns into something like mining towns that have run out of ore with a shutdown. Not hard to see how the doomsters won’t be popular opening their gobs at all once the lid is lifted on Covid19 and a broke desperate tourism sector wants to sell sell sell. That will be very interesting to watch.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  observa
April 5, 2020 9:46 pm

I head ya all the way down here in Syd. Doomsters better watch out for the backlash. Nah, won’t happen, TV is still on…

Walt D.
April 5, 2020 8:39 am

It overlooks the real reason for coral bleaching – certain parts of the reef are exposed during low tide.
However, they can not tell you that because a key tenet of the religion is that we are experiencing catastrophic rises in sea level.
Also when the ocean temperature data was falsified upwards, the actual temperature of ocean water did not change.

Pat from kerbob
April 5, 2020 11:43 am

Surprised no one posted thus link given the story subject
Still one of the funniest reads

Robert of Ottawa
April 5, 2020 12:20 pm

The last time I was diving on the GBR, I thought to myself: “Can we rescue the Guardian?”

Jay Dee
April 5, 2020 4:28 pm

The Great Barrier Reef may not need saving but all those bureaucrats do.

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