31 May 2016

"Saving the Reef": The triumph of politics over science?

by David Spratt

The Great Barrier Reef is an election issue.  Labor has just promised $400 million for the Reef. The government had previously committed $170 million, but one of Australia's leading coral researchers says that "Australia's plan for protecting Great Barrier Reef tourism is to pretend climate change isn't it's biggest threat."

Neither of the major parties are opposed to the expansion of coal mining in Australia. The question is whether the policies of either major party will actually "Save the Reef," or is this a case of politics triumphing over science?

09 May 2016

After record, mind-numbing coral bleaching, what would it take to "Save the Reef"?

Charlie Veron has identified a third of all known coral species
by David Spratt

Global warming impacts right now are beyond some of the worst scientific predictions, so what does that mean for aspirations to save the Great Barrier Reef?

On 6 July 2009, Australian Dr Charlie Veron — who has discovered, described and identified about a third of all known coral species — addressed the Royal Society in London and asked: "Is the Great Barrier Reef on death row?" His response: "The answer must be yes… a close look at this question from any rational perspective arrives at the same bottom line: the Great Barrier Reef can indeed be utterly destroyed, and this could easily happen in the lifetime of my children."

It is a devastating answer because corals have been around for almost 500 million years and have formed more fossils than any other species, they are home to one-quarter of marine fish species, and tens of millions of people depend on reef ecosystems for protein and other services. The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is home to 600 different types of corals, and is more biodiverse that any other UNESCO World Heritage site.

03 May 2016

Arctic sea ice is falling off a cliff and it may not survive the summer

Note: Thanks to robertscribbler.com for this excellent post on the eye-popping circumstances of Arctic sea-ice this melt season.
Near zero sea ice by the end of melt season. The dreaded Blue Ocean Event. Something that appears more and more likely to happen during 2016 with each passing day.

These are the kinds of climate-wrecking phase changes in the Arctic people have been worrying about since sea ice extent, area, and volume achieved gut-wrenching plunges during 2007 and 2012. Plunges that were far faster than sea ice melt rates predicted by model runs and by the then scientific consensus on how the Arctic Ocean ice would respond to human-forced warming this Century. For back during the first decade of the the 21st Century the mainstream scientific view was that Arctic sea ice would be about in the range that it is today by around 2070 or 2080. And that we wouldn’t be contemplating the possibility of zero or near zero sea ice until the end of this Century.