Rebels to the Coral Reef Cause (Part 2)

From Jennifer Marohasy’s Blog

Jennifer Marohasy

To the extent that it is possible for any human endeavour to be so, science is value-free. Science is a way of attempting to understand the world in which we live from a rational point of view, based on observation, experiment and tested theory. Irritatingly, especially for governments, science does not operate by consensus and it is often best progressed by mavericks. The alternative to a scientific approach is one based on superstition, phobia, religion or politics.

The late Professor Bob Carter was a scholar, a gentleman and a rebel. A rebel, according to my dictionary, is someone who resists authority, control or convention. Bob was a great advocate for the truth.

The late Bob Carter, geologist and marine scientist, was a maverick and a rebel and wrote that back in 2003 – in an article titled ‘Science is not Consensus’ published in the IPA Review – almost twenty years ago.

In the interim there has been the rise of identity politics and Greta Thunburg.   One of my colleagues now likes to blame the demise of Great Barrier Reef science on women and their emotionality while at the same time telling me it is his anger that keeps him going.

Of course, men do have emotions other than anger. Men get sad, glad and even scared; but anger is the only emotion that is socially acceptable for men. There are a lot of social prohibitions against men expressing emotions other than anger, and a lot of social reinforcement for being angry. We think of men who are angry as powerful and more masculine, and men who express sadness or fear as weak, less masculine.

I’m quoting here from a psychology blog.

The increasing absence of logic and evidence from Great Barrier Reef science has nothing to do with women’s passion or men’s anger.   As Bob Carter explained all those years ago it has to do with the idea that science should work in society’s interests, that science should be useful and spent saving things.  That was an idea that gained traction in the 1980s.  To quote Bob again:

Between the 1950s and the 1970s, Australia built a national capability in science which, given the small size of the population, was outstanding. At that time, leadership in science matters often came from CSIRO or university researchers, but excellent science was also accomplished within many State or Federal government agencies. As an example, all States supported some type of geological survey organization (often under the umbrella of a Department of Mines or Primary Industry), which was responsible for systematic geological mapping and mineral and other resource surveys, and which provided the government with generally dispassionate advice on related matters.

With the 1980s, however, came a restructuring of the way in which such groups operated. Public-good programme funding for the activities of government science agencies shrank, and was replaced by funding for individual projects with limited lifetimes, a management technique which turns out to be in large part responsible also for the ongoing imbroglio at the Australian Museum. An individual scientist’s salary thus often comes to be funded as a part-charge against several different projects, and when a project ends, so does the salary. So, too, comes an abrupt end to the chances of a government getting disinterested advice on science matters of the day.

One particularly egregious example epitomizes the problem, which is the hopelessly inadequate understanding which both the Queensland and Federal Governments exhibit about the endless phantom threats generated by environmental crusaders about the Great Barrier Reef.

As a mechanism for concentrating a scientist’s mind, however, project, rather than baseline, funding can’t be bettered. It provides a massive incentive for writing project reports which, in one guise or another, always discover the need for more money to be spent on this or that allied problem. And if an allied problem can’t be identified, then the fertility of human imagination is such that a new one always can be; the solution of which, coincidentally, usually requires just the training and expertise possessed by the report writer or by some of his or her professional dependants. Ably assisted by environmental scare campaigners, our governments have become truly world-class at problem generation…

Rather than employ scientists whose aim is to find out about the world because it interests them, government agencies now instead employ managers whose aim is to tell us, often at the behest of environmentalists, how we can and can’t enjoy our natural heritage.”   [end quote]

The Institute of Public Affairs have a new program that is all about getting young people out to see the Great Barrier Reef – not to save it, but in the first instance to attempt to understand something of it.

You can watch this adventure unfold over the coming week on the IPA’s Reef Rebels Facebook page and Instagram page.


The feature photograph (top) is of female Māori wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus).  She was following me around at Norman Reef, just off Cairns, on the morning of 6th May 2022.   This species has been protected from fishing in Queensland since 2003 and Western Australia since 1998.

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Tom Halla
July 13, 2022 10:11 am

Perverse incentives due to funding are all too common. The EPA and CARB need some rationale for their funding, and even continued existence.

H. D. Hoese
July 13, 2022 10:49 am

Oysters have also been on the ‘list’ because of natural and human reef destruction.There is some admission that small reefs are difficult to measure. Do they know about this? A. J. Meltzner, C. D. Woodroffe, Coral microatolls, in Handbook of Sea-Level Research, I. Shennan, A. J. Long, B. P. Horton, Eds. (Wiley, 2015)

Concerning value judgements check out their goals, day one policy, day two policy, day three policy, no “Explore the role of science in ‘science’ making.”

Corals probably make ‘value judgements,’ but not the same as those fearing their demise.

July 13, 2022 10:50 am

Why is it that so many supposedly “public-interest” media organizations such as ABC, PBS, BBC, CBC et al show no interest in sending a crew to accompany Dr. Marohasy’s team as they fact-check what the “establishment” (read – taxpayer grants gobblers) have been reporting to the world for these past few decades?

(ps – No need to answer my question. I’m pretty sure I know the answer. It goes something like this –
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”― Upton Sinclair)

July 13, 2022 11:22 am

Bob Carter was the first to identify the pause in global warming in a comment at The Telegraph in April 2006:

There IS a problem with global warming… it stopped in 1998
Everybody studying climate and analyzing the data and an ousider skeptic had to point the obvious out. Hugely embarrassing, they hated him.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Javier
July 13, 2022 3:08 pm

Thanks for the reference to Bob’s article. His comments are still valid today making it a must read.
He sent The Team™ into orbit as they had to recognize the warming hiatus in the FAR. Along the
way, the Met Office recognized The Pause after 15+ yrs. At that time, Phil Jones moved the
“being worried” goal posts from the 15 yrs he had stated in a 2009 email to 20 yrs. Is it
possible that his remarks could have helped trigger Climategate? Thanks again!–chart-prove-it.html

Reply to  Javier
July 13, 2022 10:12 pm

Wasn’t he dismissed by the University of New South Wales for daring to break ranks on climate hoax?

Reply to  Dennis
July 14, 2022 8:36 am

Yes, you’re right. But it was the dreadful James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland that did it to him.

Ron Long
July 13, 2022 12:29 pm

Always interesting reports from Dr. Jennifer. I have previously mentioned here my observation of the conversion of CSIRO, USGS, and CONICET into Political Science purveyors. Hooray for actual scientists speaking plain truth.

Steve Safigan
July 13, 2022 12:33 pm

Science is value-free. Human beings are biased (always). Anyone who claims that they have completely put aside their bias in pursuit of science is deluding themselves. I don’t care what side of an issue they’re on. Pure science is an ideal.

Reply to  Steve Safigan
July 13, 2022 2:05 pm

Yes, that’s why there is nothing wrong with science.

Many scientists, on the other hand, are deluded and illegitimate.

Louis Hunt
Reply to  Steve Safigan
July 13, 2022 9:20 pm

“As Bob Carter explained all those years ago it has to do with the idea that science should work in society’s interests, that science should be useful and spent saving things.”

I agree. However that statement from Bob Carter appears to contradict his other statement that “science is value-free.” Suggesting that science should benefit society, be useful, and save things is tying values to scientific research. You can’t have it both ways.

While science should be devoid of bias as much as possible, basic human values should play a roll in science. Otherwise, Dr. Fauci’s funding of research involving puppies being eaten alive by parasites and Dr. Mengele’s cruel experiments on human beings would constitute valid science. We should not condone such things in the name of “value-free” science.

Reply to  Louis Hunt
July 14, 2022 12:27 am

The “it” he was referring to: “ increasing absence of logic and evidence from Great Barrier Reef science .” Not the science we know.

Patrick B
Reply to  Steve Safigan
July 14, 2022 5:30 am

And that’s why real scientists follow the rules of the scientific method. The rules are supposed to help you avoid the bias. Thus a clear postulation of a theory. The description of the tests you plan to run and the data you intend to collect to test the theory. The acknowledgement of uncontrolled influences and an honest, reasonable estimate of the effect of those uncontrolled influences. Pristine data collection documented in real time so anyone can see what you did. Correct and complete statistical analysis of the data WITH PROPER ERROR ANALYSIS. A recognition of what the error analysis says about your results. Publication (i.e. public access) of everything.

An honest exchange with honest critics of the tests and data collection and analysis.

All of these rules help human scientists avoid human bias.

Climate alarmists regularly avoid some of these rules.

July 13, 2022 12:37 pm

I believe the first article I read about the Great Barrier Reef dying was in the 1960s.Last year I read the GBR was doing surprisingly well. But some people are still claiming it is disappearing. Probably the same people that have been telling us a climate crisis is coming (since the 1970s) and predicing peak oil every year since 1956.

Reply to  Richard Greene
July 13, 2022 10:15 pm

President Obama addressed students at a Queensland, Australia, university while he was in Australia for a G20 Conference and told them he was saddened by the destruction of the GBR and hoped he would be able to show it to his daughters before it was too late.

Thank you not Mr President, the GBR is a major tourist attraction for the State of Queensland and it remains in excellent health.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Richard Greene
July 14, 2022 2:34 am

The Reef is fine, as those of us who live near it and visit it know very well.

I’ve had a few arguments about this on the interwebs, and the consensus seems to be that we, who live next to it, cannot see the ‘big picture’ that those brilliant minds in cities far away that never actually visit the Reef apparently can. Obviously we’re too close.

Reply to  Richard Greene
July 14, 2022 2:52 am

I remember hearing about the imminent disappearance of the GBR due to predation by Crown-of-Thorns starfish when I was at school in the mid 1970’s.

Jennifer Marohasy
July 13, 2022 2:47 pm

So much thanks to WUWT/Charles for reposting my scribbles remembering Bob Carter, and the Maori wrasse fish.

Reply to  Jennifer Marohasy
July 14, 2022 8:47 am


Made a stop to have a look at the Boiling Pot notches on the rock platform at Noosa Heads yesterday while on a visit from NZ. As a geologist I can see what looks like two notches but it is a bit complicated by the joints and cross beds in the sandstone. Not sure how you would date those though…I note from your IPA video the upper one is dated at c.150,000BP. The handbook you mention in the video with the graph doesn’t show the highstand at 4000-6000BP so not sure if one was due to that too. Should have been a worldwide event…clear evidence of it in NZ.

Stopped at the Queensland Museum in Brisbane today…the now obligatory death of the reef video was playing with some taking head climate scientist on an endless loop. Fortunately nobody seemed to be in the least bit interested!

Keep up the good work!

Jennifer Marohasy
Reply to  Alastair Brickell
July 14, 2022 12:53 pm

Thanks for this. :-).

July 13, 2022 8:25 pm

No, no, no, “Climate Science” is not Science. These people attempt to defend the Natural World, which comes down to an antithesis to any form of Mining. Mining changes the Earth, leaves marks and waste piles on it, and they hate it. They think the Earth was just fine before humans came along.

And it was. But Human Prosperity, and a long and healthy life for most of us, requires Mining!

There is nothing more to this, the Media, the University Presidents, the NGO’s, government agencies, lie like rugs to Protect the Earth.

Things will come to a head soon in Europe due to Putin’s war with Ukraine, when the wind turbines and solar cells cause the heat and lights to be shut off, no group of humans other than Germans have ever voted to give themselves a less comfortable life-style.

Shouldn’t be long now….


Reply to  Michael Moon
July 14, 2022 2:36 am

You might consider that some major parts of their rap is not to “protect the earth” but rather to protect the earth’s resources from you, for themselves.

July 13, 2022 8:42 pm

The wrasse is beautiful 🙂

July 14, 2022 2:29 am

What do the fish’s tattoos signify?

Reply to  AndyHce
July 14, 2022 3:11 am

Dunno. You’d have to be an expert in Maori culture to know that.

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