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Claims Of Dramatic Loss Of Great Barrier Reef Corals Are False

October 16, 2020
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By Paul Homewood

 image

The stories were based on a new paper co-authored by controversial Australian researcher, Professor Terry Hughes of James Cook University.

But according to Professor Peter Ridd, a leading authority on the Great Barrier Reef, these claims are false.

According to Professor Ridd, the best data on coral cover is taken by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), who have been measuring over 100 reefs every year since 1986:

AIMS data shows that coral cover fluctuates dramatically with time but there is roughly the same amount of coral today as in 1995. There was a huge reduction in coral cover in 2011 which was caused by two major cyclones that halved coral cover. Cyclones have always been the major cause of temporary coral loss on the Reef.”

Coral cover of the Great Barrier Reef 1986-2019; AIMS/Peter Ridd 2020

This is not the first time that Professor Hughes has made such claims about coral loss. His previous study was strongly criticised by the AIMS scientists responsible for collecting and publishing the coral data.

Moreover, Professor Hughes has refused to make public the raw data upon which he made this claim, despite repeated requests.

This latest work by Prof Hughes needs a thorough quality-audit to test its veracity”, says Ridd. “Prime-facie, there are excellent grounds to treat it with great scepticism.”

https://www.thegwpf.com/claims-of-dramatic-loss-of-great-barrier-reef-corals-are-false%e2%80%a8/

22 Comments leave one →
  1. JimW permalink
    October 16, 2020 10:39 am

    Dogma has replaced science. We are seeing it with coronavirus and ‘climate change’. Lying in print or via media is now allowed, even encouraged if it supports the aims of the persuaders.
    I sound like a broken record, but computers and computer modellers mean this proliferates. I now think the human race is doomed as a sentient species unless somehow we control the use of these devices. I am using one now, and they do give enjoyment and knowledge if used well, but they are being used for evil , there is no other word to describe it. Overall we would be better off without them.

    • Harry Davidson permalink
      October 16, 2020 11:23 am

      Einstein said, talking about the Los Alamos project, that if you mix politics and science 50/50, you get pure politics. I have never seen a counter example.

      • Sean permalink
        October 16, 2020 1:29 pm

        Actually, I think the wine-and-sewage example more closely fits the politics-and-science situation, with science being wine and politics being sewage: If you have a barrel of wine and a barrel of sewage, and you pour a cup of wine in the barrel of sewage, you have a barrel of sewage; if you pour a cup of sewage in the barrel of wine, you have a barrel of sewage.

      • Harry Davidson permalink
        October 16, 2020 4:02 pm

        To be honest Sean, I think that’s a pretty crappy example.

  2. Phillip Bratby permalink
    October 16, 2020 11:00 am

    Hughes, Mann, Wadhams etc etc; where do they keep finding these charlatans?

  3. Mad Mike permalink
    October 16, 2020 11:28 am

    Here is the report from the Royal Society

    https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2020.1432

    Because of it’s terminology I think, I didn’t understand that much but they make particular reference to a weather event/ocean temperature change in 2016/17. Its probably one of those fluctuations AIMS highlights. The paper does refer to severe cyclones. The period of research covers a 20 year period which is a pity because it doesn’t cover the cold period after WW2 to 1970.

  4. Thomas Carr permalink
    October 16, 2020 11:36 am

    Strange that Prof. Hughes should again make himself so publicly available for ridicule by his peers. You would have to be obsessive to ignore AIMS report..
    Not strange that the BBC should quote such unreliable evidence to support its position on climate trends. Careless and complacent of the BBC and worthy of response by the new DG.

  5. Stuart Lawrence permalink
    October 16, 2020 12:02 pm

    Paul

    Interesting article in the Torygraph

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/10/15/early-humans-wiped-climate-chang e-study-finds/

    Confirms that the climate was changing wildly before any human effectsŠ.

    Best Regards

    Stuart Lawrence

  6. dennisambler permalink
    October 16, 2020 12:36 pm

    An excellent piece at WUWT from someone who has first hand knowledge of the reef and dives it regularly.

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/10/15/half-the-corals-dead-but-not-in-real-life/

  7. It doesn't add up... permalink
    October 16, 2020 12:37 pm

    This is of course entirely motivated by the JCU/Ridd case, which will get to the Australian Supreme Court sometime in the next few months. An interesting effect appears to be that contributions to his fundraiser have dried up since this story hit the press.

    https://www.gofundme.com/f/peter-ridd-legal-action-fund-2019

  8. MrGrimNasty permalink
    October 16, 2020 1:29 pm

    Met office declares wettest evah(!) UK day probably from cobbled together averages with no consistency over the years in locations, instruments, methodology, etc.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-54561601

    As the prospect of a record CET appears to recede, I expect minds far more devious than ours are already plotting how to conjure up the hottest year evah(!), from other more climatologically unreliable stations, for the UK as a whole or at least one region.

    • olddigger permalink
      October 16, 2020 7:09 pm

      In 1976, after the hot dry spell and Denis Howells the minister for drought rapidly became minister for floods, do you have the figures for rainfall then as Oct 3rd was the wettest day evah this year please? The reservoirs were filled very rapidly nationwide that year

  9. Broadlands permalink
    October 16, 2020 1:47 pm

    “Moreover, Professor Hughes has refused to make public the raw data upon which he made this claim, despite repeated requests.”

    Professor Hughs wants to win the Michael Mann look-alike contest?

  10. October 16, 2020 2:56 pm

    Where man doesn’t go, Bikini Atoll, the Coral is in pristine condition. A clue in there.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      October 16, 2020 3:34 pm

      Such an odd conclusion, Richard.

      MMCC/AGW, which is claimed to be the cause of the GBR dying, is supposed to be global phenomenon. In this way, ‘man’ does not need to set foot in the BA: CC will get there anyway – they say. Therefore, your conclusion should have been that as MMCC.AGW is the culprit, and as it is a global problem, the Bikini Atoll should be dying also.

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        October 16, 2020 4:40 pm

        PS, Richard: When man did set foot on BA it was when we were blowing the hell out of it in the ’50s testing atomic bombs. I figure that wouldn’t have been very good the the reef, but it seems to have survived.

  11. CheshireRed permalink
    October 16, 2020 3:51 pm

    No public raw data, no public release for any paper. Should be standard stuff.

  12. Ron Arnett permalink
    October 16, 2020 5:28 pm

    Sorry to disappoint but the Great Barrier Reef no longer exists and has not for decades. I have been assured a half dozen times over the last few decades that it is settled science that it will completely disappear in a very few years after receiving the warning.

    Each time it has happened it is for different reasons. Despite the variety of things that I am responsible for when it comes to reef killing, they allow no doubt as to how disastrous my actions have been in this regard. What those absolutely certain, reef killing events have in common is that it is largely my fault.

  13. October 16, 2020 10:34 pm

    Back in 2012, Professor Hughes was convener of the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) in Cairns (co-hosted by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University), wherein thousands from some 80 countries enjoyed a lovely 5-day venue including field trips. Taking it in six steps:

    Step 1) Beforehand, three eminent scientists including the convener gathered at Stanford and drafted the consensus.

    Step 2) They also launched an endorsement-form on their websites at COS (Centre for Ocean Solutions) and ICRS which although aimed at scientists could be actioned by the unqualified without any affiliations other than their hometown name.

    Step 3) They also made the following request on the COS and ICRS websites: “To build a large base of support in preparation for the pubic launch of the statement (during the opening ceremony of the 12thInternational Coral Reef Symposium on July 9, in Cairns, Australia), please click HERE to join other scientists from around the world by adding your name to the list of endorsees.”

    Step 4) The ICRS website published a list of almost 2,500 endorsees dated 6/July/2012 that being three days before the five-day symposium started.

    Step 5) The consensus statement launched at the opening ceremony and various sympathetic press reports announced that over 2,000; 2,200; 2,400 or 2,500 scientists had endorsed the alarmism, depending on source.

    Step 6) Convener announces success of the Symposium (This is fun) http://www.icrs2012.com/Default.htm#farewell) and the return home of 2,000 (two thousand) “of us” to 80 countries. Also a plea to continue endorsing the consensus statement….. more than 3,000 signatures so far and we would like to keep the momentum going.

    More detail and links at https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/25/six-easy-steps-for-saving-the-coral-reefs-for-our-grandchildren/

  14. October 17, 2020 3:30 am

    Back in early April the ABC (Australian national broadcaster) and others hyperventilated over reports of the worst-ever GBR bleaching (and catastrophically the third mass event in only five years; to be the new norm).
    Professor Hughes (the director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University) was quoted globally, my bold and [adds] e.g.:

    The ABC online: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-07/great-barrier-reef-most-widespread-coral-bleaching-on-record/12107054

    “The southern bleaching was very severe and we were most concerned about the south because of the naivete of the corals that are there,” he said.
    …Terry Hughes spent nine days surveying 10,000 kilometres of the reef [Imagine the logistical difficulties in making SUBJECTIVE assessments and data compilations in a fixed-wing aircraft in Hughes’ selection preferences among the over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands]. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Barrier_Reef
    “They hadn’t bleached before, which means there are more corals and more of the corals that are particularly susceptible to heat stress,” he said…
    In the last two bleaching events in 2016 and 2017, about half the coral on the Great Barrier Reef was estimated to have died…
    …Bleaching in 2016 was more severe than 2020, but was concentrated in the north of the Great Barrier Reef.
    In those events, the areas hit hardest were in the remote northern stretches of the reef… The southern and central reef had mostly been spared. This time those parts were not so lucky…
    “For the first time, the Barrier Reef has bleached in all three major regions: in the north, in the central region and in the southern regions,” Professor Hughes said…

    The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/world/australia/great-barrier-reefs-bleaching-dying.html

    …The reef was being ravaged by bleaching yet again [after the 50% mortality in 2016 and 2017], this time across an even wider area.
    “It’s the first time we’ve seen severely bleached reefs along the whole length of the reef, in particular, the coastal reefs,” said Professor Hughes… …“Those are bleached everywhere.”
    The survey amounts to an updated X-ray for a dying patient, with the markers of illness being the telltale white of coral that has lost its color, visible from the air and in the water.
    The mass bleaching indicates that corals are under intense stress from the waters around them, which have been growing increasingly hotter.
    The world’s oceans, which absorb 93 percent of the heat trapped by the greenhouse gases that humans send into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, are warming up 40 percent faster on average than scientists estimated six years ago.

    So, what does the Australian government’s GBRMPA (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) latest report say today? http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/the-reef/reef-health

    Coral bleaching and disease: Our Eye on the Reef network reported isolated instances of low severity coral bleaching and damage in all management areas. Isolated instances of low severity coral disease were reported from all areas, except the Far Northern management area.
    Crown-of-thorns starfish: Crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks continue to impact reef health across all management areas.

    Earlier GBRMPA (and AIMS) reports also dismantle some of the specific claims for the southern region, particularly Heron Island’s “first ever event”.

  15. October 17, 2020 3:31 am

    Back in 2012, Professor Hughes was convener of the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) in Cairns (co-hosted by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University), wherein thousands from some 80 countries enjoyed a lovely 5-day venue including field trips. Taking it in six steps:

    Step 1) Beforehand, three eminent scientists including the convener gathered at Stanford and drafted the consensus.

    Step 2) They also launched an endorsement-form on their websites at COS (Centre for Ocean Solutions) and ICRS which although aimed at scientists could be actioned by the unqualified without any affiliations other than their hometown name.

    Step 3) They also made the following request on the COS and ICRS websites: “To build a large base of support in preparation for the pubic launch of the statement (during the opening ceremony of the 12thInternational Coral Reef Symposium on July 9, in Cairns, Australia), please click HERE to join other scientists from around the world by adding your name to the list of endorsees.”

    Step 4) The ICRS website published a list of almost 2,500 endorsees dated 6/July/2012 that being three days before the five-day symposium started.

    Step 5) The consensus statement launched at the opening ceremony and various sympathetic press reports announced that over 2,000; 2,200; 2,400 or 2,500 scientists had endorsed the alarmism, depending on source.

    Step 6) Convener announces success of the Symposium (This is fun) http://www.icrs2012.com/Default.htm#farewell) and the return home of 2,000 (two thousand) “of us” to 80 countries. Also a plea to continue endorsing the consensus statement….. more than 3,000 signatures so far and we would like to keep the momentum going.

    More detail and links at https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/25/six-easy-steps-for-saving-the-coral-reefs-for-our-grandchildren/

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