A Tale of Two Media Perspectives: New Pristine Reef Discovery a Marvel for Most, A Chance to Promote Unwarranted Climate Alarmism for CNN

From Climate Realism

A Google news search for the term “climate change” today turns of a flood of stories discussing the recent discovery of a previously unknown and evidently pristine coral reef off the coasts of Tahiti. Most news outlets covering the story, like CBCFrance 24, and the New York Post, only mentioned climate change in passing, noting this coral reef seems untouched by the myriad factors impacting neighboring coral reefs. CNN, perhaps predictably, tried to turn a story of wonder and hope, into a horror tale, warning the reef had to be protected from climate change.

The CBC story, titled “This huge coral reef has only just been discovered, and it’s undamaged by climate change,” was typical of most of the news coverage of the newly discovered, diverse and healthy reef. CBC writes:

Discovery of reef, deeper than most, suggests there may be more unknown large reefs in oceans.

Scientists have discovered a pristine, three-kilometre-long reef of giant rose-shaped corals off the coast of Tahiti, in waters of the southern Pacific Ocean thought to be deep enough to protect it from the bleaching effects of the warming ocean.

The reef off Tahiti lies in the “twilight zone” 30 to 120 metres below the surface where there is still enough light for coral to grow and reproduce. The discovery off Tahiti’s shores suggests there may be many more unknown large reefs in our oceans, given that only about 20 per cent of the entire seabed is mapped, according to UNESCO scientists.

“It also raises questions about how coral reefs become more resilient to climate change,” UNESCO’s head of marine policy, Julian Barbiere, told Reuters.

CBC and others said very little about climate change related to the reef because there was little to say, other than to imply warming waters affected other reefs nearby. Most of the coverage of the reef were hopeful in tone, uniformly covering the fact that the reef was healthy, diverse, proof reefs are can be resilient to climate change, and indicating, there could be untold numbers of reefs similar to it in the 80 percent of the world’s oceans and seas that have yet to be explored

CNN’s slant on the discovery, by contrast, took a decidedly alarmists tone.

“Deep in the ocean off the coast of Tahiti, scientists made an incredible discovery in November: acres of giant, pristine, rose-shaped corals blossoming from the sea floor in what’s known as the ocean’s ‘twilight zone,’” wrote CNN. A single paragraph later it turned a hopeful tale of discovery into climate change horror story.

“That a coral reef so large and so beautiful had yet to be discovered emphasizes how little we still know about the world’s oceans, scientists say,” said CNN. “And its impeccable condition — with no evidence that the reef has yet been harmed by the climate crisis — suggests the need for urgent action to protect the ocean’s remaining healthy reefs.” (emphasis mine).

Rather than touting the coral reef’s apparent resilience in the face of the myriad threats to coral health, the least of which, evidence suggests, is modestly warming oceans, CNN immediately presents the discovery as a cautionary tale about the dangers of climate change.

“Warming oceans and acidification caused by the climate crisis has led to widespread coral bleaching,” continued CNN. “Last year, scientists found the global extent of living coral has declined by half since 1950 due to climate change, overfishing and pollution.”

Thankfully, almost everything CNN said about the threats to and the abundance of coral reefs is false.

As explored in previous Climate Realism reports, herehere, and here, for example, corals evolved when the oceans were much warmer than at present and require warm waters to thrive. As a result corals have been expanding their range in response to modestly warming ocean waters. Most of the corals that have bleached in recent years, have recovered. Where corals have not recovered, their bleaching and death has been tied to coastal pollution, including from chemicals contained in sun screen, siltation from development, and agricultural run-off.

Indeed, research reported in Phys.org suggests coral reefs are far from threatened.

According to the Phys.org story, titled “Half a trillion corals: World-first coral count prompts rethink of extinction risks,” the number of corals in the Pacific Ocean alone exceed half a trillion. There are likely trillions more globally.

The scientists involved in the research say the sheer number of corals and coral species means the risk of extinction due to climate change is vastly lower than previously claimed.

“In the Pacific, we estimate there are roughly half a trillion corals,’ said the study lead author, Dr. Andy Dietzel from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University,” writes Phys.org.

“This is about the same number of trees in the Amazon, or birds in the world.”

“Dr. Dietzel said the eight most common coral species in the region each have a population size greater than the 7.8 billion people on Earth,” says Phys.org, continuing, “The findings suggest that while a local loss of coral can be devastating to coral reefs, the global extinction risk of most coral species is lower than previously estimated.”

This research exposes the fact that although the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list 80 coral species to have an elevated extinction risk, 12 of those species have estimated population sizes of more than one billion colonies.

When the discovery of this unexpected, pristine, massive coral reef in Tahiti’s waters was announced, corporate media outlets had a choice, the high road of truth, or the low road of false climate alarmism. Most media outlets took the high road, presenting the facts about the reef, its location, extent, and uniqueness, and discussing the marvels that this reef presented and the good news it might be telling about the abundance of corals in as yet uncharted waters. They limited their speculations about climate change.

CNN, as is its usual practice, took the low road, briefly describing the Tahitian reef’s discovery and its wonders, and then making the story about climate change. Along the way CNN presented half-truths, misleading information, and gross speculation about the threat climate change poses to coral reefs worldwide, in an attempt to say this newly discovered pristine coral reef is endangered, even though there is no evidence this is true, from human greenhouse gas emissions. Shame on CNN.

H. Sterling Burnett Ph.D. is managing editor of Environment & Climate News and a research fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute. Burnett worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis for 18 years, most recently as a senior fellow in charge of NCPA’s environmental policy program. He has held various positions in professional and public policy organizations, including serving as a member of the Environment and Natural Resources Task Force in the Texas Comptroller’s e-Texas commission.

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Lance Flake
January 23, 2022 6:12 am

Fear sells

Reply to  Lance Flake
January 23, 2022 7:11 am

Not always. CNN viewership is down 90% from last year. Perhaps they should revisit their business strategy.


Reply to  H.R.
January 23, 2022 7:38 am

Are there rich liberals donating to CNN? Their viewership is down so far, there’s no way ad revenue is paying the bills.

John Tillman
Reply to  MarkW
January 23, 2022 8:11 am

CNN gets a lot of revenue from its stranglehold on international airports.

Rational Db8
Reply to  John Tillman
January 23, 2022 12:02 pm

Mainstream media “news.”

CNN monkeys most trusted name in flinging poo media bias fake news politicized liberal agenda ideological plantation spin lies.jpg
Reply to  John Tillman
January 24, 2022 2:55 pm

no longer. sometime about a year ago CNN shutdown their airport network, abandoning most of their airport viewership (which was likely nil anyway)
apparently there are a few scattered small airports in the country that carry CNN, but most of the big airports no longer even have a television monitor showing news because everyone is on their devices seeking content on their own.

Reply to  Rhee
January 24, 2022 3:05 pm

about a year ago CNN shutdown their airport network

Unfortunately I see them a lot in many fast-food restaurants.

Reply to  MarkW
January 23, 2022 8:35 pm

“Are there rich liberals donating to CNN?”

WarnerMedia owns CNN.

Reply to  ATheoK
January 24, 2022 7:37 am

WarnerMedia owns CNN

I thought it was AT&T? (Who also owns DirecTV which just dumped a conservative competitor)

John Tillman
Reply to  TonyG
January 25, 2022 9:04 am

AT&T owns WarnerMedia.

Fewer people have been flying the past two years, so ad revenue fell.

Reply to  John Tillman
January 25, 2022 12:22 pm

AT&T owns WarnerMedia.

Was not aware of that, thanks for the clarification.

Reply to  Lance Flake
January 23, 2022 7:13 am

Actually, people are sick&tired of the fear/disaster porn that is cnn, which is why they are circling the toilet.

John Tillman
Reply to  2hotel9
January 25, 2022 9:10 am

CNN needs Trump to run again. Only way it can revive.

Reply to  John Tillman
January 25, 2022 11:23 am

The Donald needs to buy cnn. Just the attempt would be a glorious meltdown of the leftards to watch.

John Tillman
January 23, 2022 6:15 am

If other reefs are in worse condition, it’s because this deep one hasn’t been subjected to the sunscreen from “climate scientists” diving on it.

Charles Higley
Reply to  John Tillman
January 23, 2022 8:23 am

Sunscreen is such a minor component in tropical regions. this is only another attempt to demonize people in general. The big threats to coral reefs are from fishing practices, silt emissions into shore waters, and chemical effluents into the oceans. Sunscreen is a joke.

January 23, 2022 6:22 am

FACEBOOK won’t share this article. Because “some people reported this as abusive.” Well it is, to liars and fools.

January 23, 2022 6:38 am

If it hasn’t been seen before, how do they know it’s ‘pristine’?

Reply to  decnine
January 23, 2022 7:24 am

“Pristine” is one of those emotional terms, like “unprecedented”, that propaganda writers throw out when they are too lazy/biased to do the slightest bit of historical fact-finding

January 23, 2022 7:14 am

Of course cnn is spewing lies, it is all they have.

January 23, 2022 7:27 am

I’ve heard CNN described as the Clinton News Network

Didn’t some hack by the name of Anderson Cooper get caught out in a flooded roadside ditch? I think he did.

Reply to  fretslider
January 23, 2022 7:41 am

Recently one of the CNN hacks made a claim about a squabble between supreme court justices. The claim was that Sotomayor had asked Gorsuch to put on a mask and that he refused. Both Sotomayor and Gorsuch have stated that this never happened and Chief Justice Roberts also issued a statement that it never happened.

CNN however is standing by their “unnamed” source.

John VC
Reply to  MarkW
January 23, 2022 8:32 am

That story started with an NPR report by Nina Totenberg. NPR stands by the story even though the supremes said it was false.

Reply to  MarkW
January 23, 2022 2:28 pm

CNN’s unnamed source needs to be unmasked.

4E Douglas
January 23, 2022 7:43 am

CNN reminds me of my dear Auntie, who never saw good in anything. Except she didn’t profit from promoting her idea that tonsils were there for the removal of said organ..

January 23, 2022 7:49 am

Although an interesting finding, this is far from new or unique. We have been finding these deep coral complexes all over the place. Back in 2008, they were coined as “mesophotic coral ecosystems.”

Pretty much anywhere where you have shallow corals, you will also have them at the twilight depths. There is a huge complex off the west coast of Florida and another in the Maui Channel that have been studied for years.

Reply to  Da’Kat
January 24, 2022 2:58 am

And also at greater depths. I remember the fuss that was made over the discovery of deep water corals at 700m+, (Lophelia pertusa). It’s not true that all corals are symbiotic with photosynthesisers. I’m not sure in the case of L. pertusa – we thought they were possibly growing around oil seeps.

A more interesting question is why, given the general rise in sea levels in the last 20,000 years, and the growth abilities of corals, did they not grow up to the surface?

Walter Sobchak
January 23, 2022 7:57 am

Even if human actions could affect the tempertaure of the atmospher, its effect on the temperature of the oceans is miniscule. The oceans have 99.9% of the enthalpy of the atmosphere/ocean system. It is the oceans that control the temperature of the atmosphere not the atmosphere that controls the temperature of the oceans.

Ron Long
Reply to  Walter Sobchak
January 23, 2022 9:29 am

Walter, looks like you have that enthalpy deal figured out, so I’m guessing you don’t heat your bath water with a hair dryer.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Ron Long
January 23, 2022 10:38 am

What a great analogy. Yes, whenever I hear “we have warmed the earth 1c which therefore warmed the oceans” I get all twitchy, and I’m certainly no scientist.
But I work with large electrical equipment that must be cooled and I know that water holds far more heat than air and that water transports 24 times as much heat as the same volume of air.
So it seems all wrong

Rational Db8
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
January 23, 2022 12:11 pm

You’re exactly right of course.

Put a cut of frozen meat, like a pork chop, in a zip lock bag with the air pushed out before sealing it and set it on the counter top. It’ll take a LOOOONNNNG time to thaw. Put it in a bowl of cold water with a tiny stream of cold water running into it, presto in 20 or 30 min, it’s thawed. Even tho the water is far colder than the air temp. in the room.

In other words, pretty much everyone, even those with zero science background and even those who aren’t so bright – has some experience proving exactly what you say is true. I’d bet most are well aware of this fact too, even if they’ve never really thought about it before or considered why it works.

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
January 23, 2022 12:52 pm

Let me ask you this, how quickly does that water cool off in the summer vs the winter?

Reply to  Ron Long
January 23, 2022 12:50 pm

The answer to bad science, is not even worse science.

Warm air doesn’t heat water, and nobody has ever claimed that it does.
The sun heats the water, and the warm air influences how easily that warmth can escape from the water. The warmer the air, the warmer the water has to get in order for the same amount of heat to escape.

Last edited 1 year ago by MarkW
Reply to  Walter Sobchak
January 23, 2022 11:52 am

That is only true if you “follow the science”. If you “follow the science as told by CNN ” then you already know that the atmosphere will boil the oceans away eventually.

Charles Higley
January 23, 2022 8:14 am

What the eco-alarmists do not know, and do not care to know, is that the coral reefs and rainforests of the world are only such complex ecosystems because they are the most stable and enduring of all ecosystems, which has allowed eons of speciation and complex interspecies relationships to develop.

The bottom line is that the rainforests are always mostly wet and hot, despite there being dry seasons, and the coral reefs are always in warm waters, being in the tropics, regardless of glacial periods.

During glacial periods, reefs are forced to retreat, but they spread north and south from the tropics during interglacial periods. It’s what they do.

Pretending that coral reefs and rainforests are in danger from climate warming is a joke, as warmer conditions allows them to grow farther north and south. It’s glacial conditions that decrease their living zones.

Swiss biologists examined their mountain plants. Despite the claim that global warming would force plant species up the mountains to go extinct at the top, these scientists found that, yes, the warmer-loving plants moved up the mountains, but they also stayed where they were, thus covering wider bands of the mountains. Contradicting the alarmists, the mountains ended up with higher species diversity than before and the threat of extinctions were clearly reduced.

January 23, 2022 8:32 am

 “This huge coral reef has only just been discovered, and it’s undamaged by climate change,” 

Oh I see, apparently other reefs are damaged or dying and this ones not. Climate change is selective now.

Gary Pearse
January 23, 2022 8:34 am

“Last year, scientists found the global extent of living coral has declined by half since 1950”

So this year the scientists find only 10% of the living coral has declined (80% of the seabed is unknown and the new discovery is deeper). Moreover using my coefficient of exaggeration in consensus science hype of 0.33, ‘living coral’ has declined ~3%.

Also, I’m thinking every shallows above 120m in the band of ocean between latitude 30s probably has some coral. Could there be deeper, cooler corals.


“The habitat of deep-water corals, also known as cold-water corals, extends to deeper, darker parts of the oceans than tropical corals, ranging from near the surface to the abyss, beyond 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) where water temperatures may be as cold as 4 °C (39 °F).”

No wonder Anthozoa are the oldest known life-forms!

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Gary Pearse
January 23, 2022 2:05 pm

There is such a reef off the coast of Norway!

Andy Pattullo
January 23, 2022 9:12 am

The boy who cried wolf is probably appropriate to this story. It is true that alarming reports draw instant attention and advertising revenue. But eventually the loss of credibility, the repetitiveness of the message, and the total failure of predictions to come true turns the message into white noise and lost revenue. As other commenters have noted CNN is falling into a black hole as far as viewership and advertising go. This is nature’s punishment for ignoring reality.

January 23, 2022 9:31 am

Every time some numpty wails about “endangered” coral reefs, I like to remind them how resilient coral reefs are –
Bikini Atoll reefs were totally obliterated by A bomb testing in the 1950s, yet resurrected themselves in just 60 years.

Just leave the reefs the f$#^ alone and they’ll be fine!

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Mr.
January 23, 2022 10:12 am

Yes the US tried to nuke Bikini Atoll to death but didn’t succeed despite carrying out 67 nuclear tests, including 23 nuclear weapons.

The Castle Bravo H bomb test on 1st March 1954 was the most powerful nuclear device detonated by the US, at 15 megatons , 1000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. The explosion left a crater 2000 metres in diameter and 76metres deep. The mushroom cloud contaminated more than 7000 square miles ( 15,000 sq kms)

In 2008 scientists found that 70% of the atolls previous coral reef species had resettled the lagoon, and there was evidence the coral had begun growing again as soon as 10 years after the tests ended.

Temperatures in H bomb explosions can reach those of the interior of the sun.

Corals are very resilient.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dave Andrews
January 23, 2022 9:37 am

The obvious question is, if corals are this fragile, how have they survived for millions of years?

Reply to  Tom.1
January 23, 2022 10:33 am

They do what all life forms on this planet have done since their beginnings in the primordial slime –
adapt and evolve.

Just as h0mo sapient has.

But now, according to “progressive” doctrine about changes in climates, we no longer possess the capacity to adapt, so we’ll all succumb to a 1.5C increase in temperatures over the next 100 years.

How the hell did we make it this far?
We sacrificed virgins, that’s how.
But clearly, the existential threat for us now is an acute shortage of virgins.
Ergo, we’re screwed.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Tom.1
January 23, 2022 3:35 pm

No lifeform has lasted longer. Coral fossils are common in the Ordovician which is over 400million years ago. What are interpreted to be algal reefs or ‘stromatoliths’ are found in the proterozoic up to 1.7 billion years ago. This form may be a precursor to the coral reef which today has a symbiotic relationship with algae.

It is possible that coral polyps may have been part of the ancient stromatolith structure, but predating coral’s ability to generate carbonate hard parts at the time, such soft tissues were unlikely to have been preserved.

Stromatolith algal structures have been described as abundant on the outer edge of a Holocene coral reef off Tahiti. Is this related to the new deep water reef which is the subject of this article?


January 23, 2022 10:13 am

How they survive the meltwater pulses?

January 23, 2022 10:27 am

The only way to save this coral is to ban new conservatories in the UK ( say’s an unnamed source! )

Richard Page
Reply to  Murgatroid
January 23, 2022 6:03 pm

Said unnamed source made the comment from her own conservatory, proving her complete hypocrisy!

Pat from kerbob
January 23, 2022 10:32 am

If it’s CNN, it’s not news.

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
January 23, 2022 12:55 pm

the Climate Newts Nutwork

January 23, 2022 10:38 am

Climateering is a death 💀 cult.
Looking at life they see only death.
It’s profitable for now, but will ultimately be self-fulfilling, and self-destruct.

January 23, 2022 11:37 am

…suggests the need for urgent action to protect the ocean’s remaining healthy reefs.

Lets tax humans for the urgent action required to protect untouched and pristine reefs on the bottom of the ocean in far away places. We can then set up a Department of Pristine Reefs and hire people to staff offices issuing press releases about how wonderful but endangered they actually are.

January 23, 2022 12:33 pm

CNN will be extinct long before any corals. They’re now losing in ratings to My 600 Pound Life.

Smart Rock
January 23, 2022 2:08 pm

Coral reefs are ideal targets for the alarmist media because they are far away from the average reader/viewer, who has no way of judging, from his/her personal experience or knowledge, whether the claims of ongoing ecosystem collapse are true, false or somewhere in between. In the case of coral reefs, even if Joe Average has spent a vacation or two snorkelling around coral reefs in (say) the Caymans, he will assume that he was lucky to have seen those reefs before they got bleached to death by rising temperatures and the dreaded “ocean acidification”.

For those of us who hang around skeptical websites and get exposed to realist literature, our first reaction to stories like this is to immediately assume that they are either totally false or exaggerated out of all proportion. We’ve seen enough to be able to put alarmist claims in perspective. But the Averages, who only get their news from the MSM, will mostly take them at face value because they assume that when “scientists say” or “experts say” something, that what they say is based on objective facts.

The point about these stories of eco-disaster being about things that are always remote from the everyday experience of most of us, and so beyond our ability to personally check, was recently made by Patrick Moore. He used the examples of polar bears and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Coral reefs fit right in there, and we can add walrus falling off cliffs to the list. All far away from our everyday lives.

Sterling Burnett points out that the CBC story isn’t quite as alarmistly overblown as CNN’s, but don’t assume that the Canadian state propaganda machine has suddenly discovered objective reporting. It’s just a repeat of a Reuters story, so it hasn’t been embellished to polish its impact. And it still contains statements like this:

Bleaching is a stress response by overheated corals during heat waves. They lose their colour, and many struggle to survive……Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage-listed wonder — has suffered severe bleaching to an estimated 80 per cent of its corals since 2016

And look at the very cleverly worded CBC title: “This huge coral reef has only just been discovered, and it’s undamaged by climate change“. It manages to imply – almost subliminally – that the reef is “undamaged by climate changebecause it’s “only just been discovered“. Thereby reinforcing the “humans destroy whatever they touch” message. Whereas, quite obviously, a reef’s vulnerability to climate change has absolutely nothing to do with whether it’s been discovered or not.
And look at three of the CBC’s five links to “Related Stories”:

  • The ocean has lost half its coral reef coverage, study finds
  • Great Barrier Reef should be listed as ‘in danger,’ UN says, upsetting Australia
  • An archive of decades-old photos reveal Jamaica’s coral reefs were once beautiful ecosystems full of life

No, climate alarmism is alive and well in Canada, thank you. It’s just that CBC hasn’t sunk quite as far as CNN. A pretty feeble compliment!

January 23, 2022 2:57 pm

There is some very disturbing evidence that CNN missed: There are no penguins at this newly discovered reef, no polar bears, no walruses. They are all now locally extinct.A serious amount of grant money is needed to investigate why these key species have recently disappeared from Tahiti.

If enough ‘scientists’ start crawling all over the reef, they may yet get to the point where the reef does need protection. Then the grant money can really start flowing in.

Note: The ‘recently’ above is to increase grant money. It can be substantiated by reference to the ‘ozone hole’ which did not exist before it was discovered.

January 23, 2022 4:51 pm

At depths of about 30M or more corals are largely protected from damage by storms, floods and bleaching events. Those on the seaward slope of reefs also tend to have a better supply of planktonic food and in many places they also benefit from frequent surges of nutrient rich water from below the thermocline brought up by internal waves. The abundant and pristine corals found in deeper water off Tahiti is a common occurrence in thousands of locations around the world.

January 23, 2022 5:02 pm

is modestly warming oceans, 

Ocean water exists in the temperature range -1.8C to 30C. Those are hard annual limits at the extremes of this range.

The measured temperature increase of the top 700m of the oceans over the past 60 years is 0.18C, equating to 0.5% of the possible range.

The term “minuscule” seems more apt than “modest”

Joao Martins
January 24, 2022 4:13 am

CBC reporting to have found organisms that do not feel, nor experience, the effects of climate change.

An amphibious reporter from CBC diving off Tahiti to investigate first-hand the living conditions of corals recorded statements of some polyps. One of them is reported to have said: “Yes, we are living quite well, business as usual… You asked climate change? No, we are not experience nothing like that!… As far as goes the memory of the elder polyps of our family, we have not felt any noticeable changes of the climate”.

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