A Zoom lecture given on Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Professor Ridd reviews the latest data on the state of the world’s coral reefs, which is extremely encouraging, especially for the Great Barrier Reef, the largest single reef system, with record high coral cover in 2022. A brief explanation of “bleaching” is given, a brilliant adaptation for corals to cope with warming or cooling temperatures. Finally, a brief comment is made on the subject of academic freedom and the general problem of freedom of speech and thought in universities and on the associated collapse of intellectual rigour and he raises questions on our failing universities and science institutions.
Professor Peter Ridd is a geophysicist with over 100 publications and 35 years’ experience working on the Great Barrier Reef; he developed a wide range of world-first optical and electronic instruments for measuring environmental conditions near corals and other ecosystems. He was Professor of Physics at James Cook University in North Queensland for over a decade before being fired in 2018 for pointing out serious quality assurance issues in reef science. He challenged his dismissal by the University and won in principle in the High Court but eventually lost the case on appeal on a technicality. He now volunteers his time to the Institute of Public Affairs to improve quality assurance systems of “science” used by Australian governments to make environmental laws and regulations. He also runs the Reef-Rebels YouTube channel.
An excellent Zoom lecture
Peter Ridd giving out accurate information on reefs – sounds like he is once again not being “collegial”!
The High Court Precedent now says ‘collegial’ doesnt over ride academic freedom. But the particular circumstances of the Ridd sacking the University weaselled out of it. But they have had their wings truly clipped in future
A mistake in the summary. While Ridd deservedly won his case in the Circuit Court, he lost when the university appealed to the Federal Court. A further appeal to the top tier High Court confirmed the universitys sacking was *procedurally* Ok.
But more importantly the High Court set new precedents on academic freedom
‘The [High] court found the university had breached the clause on intellectual freedom when it first censured Ridd for statements made to journalists that were highly critical of colleagues’ work on climate change and the health of the Great Barrier Reef. The court held that, as these statements were within his areas of academic expertise and were honestly held, they were protected from disciplinary action even if not respectful or courteous (as the JCU code of conduct for staff required).’
Another academic Tim Anderson is winning some major points in court over his sacking from Sydney University for similar reasons.
I don’t see a mistake in the summary. I presume you refer to “He challenged his dismissal by the University and won in principle in the High Court but eventually lost the case on appeal on a technicality.”. You argue that “The court held that, as these statements were within his areas of academic expertise and were honestly held, they were protected from disciplinary action even if not respectful or courteous” and yet they still used a technicality to allow the sacking. IOW, Peter Ridd “won in principle in the High Court but eventually lost the case on appeal on a technicality”.
he won only in the Circuit court not the High Court which is like their Supreme Court.
he lost his case in the eventual High Court appeal, but the principle of academic freedom was a win too
“Dr Ridd won an initial Federal Circuit Court case challenging his sacking and was awarded $1.2 million in compensation.”
‘“The Final Censure was justified only insofar as it relied upon expressions of opinion unrelated to Dr Ridd’s academic expertise, and findings that he repeatedly failed to comply with his confidentiality obligations.”
But the principle of academic freedom precedent was set by the High Court, which I think was a win for Ridd and others. He just strayed a bit outside those boundaries, but thats understandable.
Peter Ridd is about as different from Tim Anderson as it is possible for two men to be. Their cases both involve academic freedom of speech, but the similarity ends there.
Prof. Ridd got in trouble for being a conscientious scientist, who spoke the truth.
Prof. Anderson is a communist crackpot. He did not get in trouble for his open admiration of North Korea and Venezuela’s Maduro. He only finally got in trouble for a lecture in which (among other things) he used a slide with a swastika imposed on the Israeli flag.
In his own defense he said, “While some may feel offended by Nazi-Zionist analogies, I say the inclusion of the analogy in that graphic was appropriate. The purpose of the slide was to encourage critical analysis.“
In the topsy-turvy worlds of Australian law and academics, that’s apparently considered less offensive and more worthy of protection than providing accurate assessments of coral reef health.
Anderson was sacked too, but you agree this time ?
Academic freedom is a principle no matter whether you agree on the worthiness of the work.
A lot of academic work and teaching is rubbish, I can remember well one of my professors pointing out some claim in a prescribed text as being wrong. And that was Hydraulics
You have to get away from the idea that academic research and such is the prefect truth, its not and has never been.
Well, maybe it’s different in Australia, but in my experience calling people Nazis is not an especially effective way “to encourage critical analysis.”
That argument apparently worked for Tim Anderson. Do you think it would have worked for Peter Ridd, if he’d called Terry Hughes et al Nazis, “to encourage critical analysis” of their shoddy GBR studies?
Of course, one cannot imagine Prof. Ridd behaving like that, but I’m sure you get my point.
Prof. Ridd noted The reefs in western Pacific warm pool grow he most rapidly. Coral reefs have always provided a natural sequestering mechanism for CO2. In a warming world, shouldn’t the rate of carbon dioxide sequestration increase with temperature?
Interesting observation, Sean! That would make it a plausible negative [attenuating / stabilizing] feedback loop:
Elevated atmospheric CO2 → warmer air & water temperatures → faster coral growth, more rapidly sequestering carbon → reduced dissolved CO2, carbonate & bicarbonate ions, etc. in water → faster removal of CO2 from the air by dissolution into the oceans
My intuition suggests that it is probably very minor. (But climate industry propagandists never hesitate to tout barely plausible and very minor, positive [amplifying] feedbacks.)
Zoom lecture. Pass the Kleenex. Will there be a Xerox of the presentation? Did they serve Pepsi or cola?
If somebody would return all the money we’ve spent fighting “Global Warming” we would have more than enough to pay for all the economic disruption caused by Silicon Valley Bank … with enough left over to feed the world’s poor and find a cure for cancer.
Haven’t watch it yet- but does Professor Ridd have a current academic position? I should think other universities would love to have him- or maybe I’m not cynical enough about the education world.
His specialist area is Great Barrier Reef. I think hes in his late 60s now but I think hes found organisations that value his work and hes continuing in that
Dr. Ridd’s lecture is wonderfully informative, and his comment about corals preferring warm water is spot on. Here’s a map of the world’s coral reefs. Note how they are clustered around the equator:
Note that very warm southern Red Sea is dotted with healthy coral reefs — unlike the cooler Mediterranean.
Some coral inhabit temperate zones, but most prefer tropics. In fact, where there are seasons, corals grow fastest in summer.
At 7:20 in this BBC video you can hear how wonderfully healthy the coral are in warmest part of the very warm southern Red Sea, off Eritrea:
Unfortunately, it seems the BBC took down their video. Fortunately, I had saved a copy. So I put it on Vimeo, here:
Oh, woe is us! Global Warming caused reef growth is overtaking all the earth’s harbors, and they will clog completely. Soon all international shipping will cease, and we’ll all starve to death.
Great, thoughtful and honest presentation – what anyone who knows of Peter Ridd’s work would have expected. Now for the sarcasm: I am certain because of their high interest in academic matters and the search for truth that respected media outlets such as the BBC, ABC, NYT, Guardian etc will be wanting to thoroughly and honestly cover this story – maybe in a feature documentary. I wait with bated breath.
Higher education is in a sorry state, unfortunately the same can be said for primary and secondary education. There are many reasons for this downward slide. There will probably never be a single answer to fix this mess. I have thought for a long time that one big problem is everything seems to be consolidated anymore. More and more of a one size fits all and you can take it or leave it but it won’t change.
An extraordinary lecture, thanks Peter. Very easy to understand.
Very sad to listen to your conclusions on our universities at the end, but you’re 100%. My former university, Sydney University, is an absolute disgrace and it probably on top of the dung pile.