Monday, July 26, 2021

GWPF Newsletter: Record coral cover of Great Barrier Reef shames climate alarmists


Recovery of Great Barrier Reef exposes false claims by China and its green allies

In this newsletter:

1) Peter Ridd: Record coral cover of Great Barrier Reef shames climate alarmists
The Australian, 23 July 2021
2) Recovery of Great Barrier Reef exposes false claims by China and climate alarmists
The Australian, 18 July 2021

3) China & climate alarmists lose battle as World Heritage Committee agrees not to place Great Barrier Reef on ‘in danger’ list
The Guardian, 23 July 2021

4) Global food security secured: RNA breakthrough creates crops that can grow 50% more potatoes & rice 

5) Climate crisis? What climate crisis? CO2 emissions set to hit record levels in 2023 and there’s ‘no clear peak in sight,’ IEA says
CNBC, 20 July 2021
6) And finally the habitual COP ritual: 100 days to save the planet,  John Kerry claims
London Evening Standard, 21 July 2021

Full details:

1) Peter Ridd: Record coral cover of Great Barrier Reef shames climate alarmists
The Australian, 23 July 2021
The annual data on coral cover for the Great Barrier Reef, produced by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, was released on Monday showing the amount of coral on the reef is at record high levels. Record high, despite all the doom stories by our reef science and management institutions.


This data series, which started in 1985, is taken from the Australian Institute of Marine Science yearly long term monitoring of the Reef. Source: Peter Ridd
Like all other data on the reef, this shows it is in robust health. For example, coral growth rates have, if anything, increased over the past 100 years and measurements of farm pesticides reaching the reef show levels so low that they cannot be detected with the most ultra-sensitive equipment.

This data is good news. It could hardly be better. But somehow, our science organisations have convinced the world that the reef is on its last legs. How has this happened?

One reason is that occasionally colossal amounts of coral are killed, mostly by cyclones, but also by crown of thorns starfish and bleaching. So the media, with its predilection for bad news, can be fed a regular diet of doom. Our scientists are always happy to oblige.

The quiet recovery is generally downplayed or ignored.
Growing up in Innisfail, adjacent to the reef, in the early 1970s, I recall the initial doom stories about the reef.
The scientific study of the reef had only just started, and plagues of starfish that eat the coral had just been discovered and were making headlines worldwide. The reef had, supposedly, only a decade left.

It was reasonable in the ’70s to be concerned about these plagues and they ultimately precipitated AIMS’s long-term monitoring of coral and starfish in the ’80s. I was working at AIMS when this important work started, and it is interesting to look back on what has changed. The coral cover is no less, the number of starfish is no more, but the number of scientists and managers working on the reef has exploded. Perhaps this is the problem.

In 50 years we have now learnt a great deal about the cycles of coral death and regrowth. The data reported every year by AIMS shows all areas go through these cycles every decade or two.

Remarkably, even the excellent news of record coral still has the scientists pessimistic. The reef is, apparently, still doomed from climate change and this is just a temporary reprieve. How good does the data need to be to make them admit the reef is fine?

The science institutions have been claiming that there have been three disastrous bleaching events in the past five years, which does not accord with the latest statistics.

Record coral cover means there was no disaster on the reef. The only disaster is the quality assurance at the science organisations.

An examination of the data shows that, while there have been three events, they occurred in largely different regions in each year. The reef has thus effectively had one major bleaching event in the past five years and the previous major event was in 2002. So the reef has had roughly one event in 15 years, and most of the coral on the reef did not bleach, and most that bleached did not die. Therefore, it is not surprising that the reef is in good shape.

The science institutions have been caught out by their own deception. They exaggerated the bleaching events – as usual. Luckily, we have the AIMS long-term coral monitoring surveys, which are done professionally with good-quality protocols, to demonstrate the state of the reef.

The bad news is that the record high coral cover means it is likely that coral cover will decline in the next few years. Prepare for the headlines saying the reef has lost much of its coral and is indicative of climate change and farmers polluting the reef. And the reef will be predicted to be gone by 2050 – or whenever.

When will these doom stories about the reef, which have been going for 50 years, cease? Will it be like the Ancient Greek legend of Prometheus, who was chained alive to a rock so that his liver could be eaten by an eagle, only for the liver to grow overnight so that it could be eaten again and again? Will the agony ever end?

According to legend, Heracles saved Prometheus. Who will be our Heracles, and support better quality assurance of the science?

It should be the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, but so far it has not been interested. The various ministers could also take an interest.
In the meantime, don’t forget we have record high levels of coral. It is time to stop scaring the children with doom stories about the reef.
Peter Ridd has researched the Great Barrier Reef for decades and is the author of Reef Heresy Science, Research and the Great Barrier Reef, published by Connor Court. He is a member of the GWPF's Academic Advisory Council.

See also extensive GWPF coverage of the Great Barrier Reef doom-mongering over the last 10 years
2) Recovery of Great Barrier Reef exposes false claims by China and climate alarmists
The Australian, 18 July 2021
The Great Barrier Reef is showing signs of recovery with some of the best coral coverage recorded in years, according to a survey of the natural wonder conducted by the commonwealth’s chief independent marine science agency.


The Australian Institute of Marine Science assessment – which found “minimal impact” from last year’s coral bleaching and increases in hard coral across 85 per cent of the reefs surveyed year on year – comes as UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee meets this week to consider whether the site should be formally declared “in danger”.
The results of the AIMS annual monitoring program, which has been monitoring the condition of the reef since 1985, will be used by Environment Minister Sussan Ley in her final push to lobby committee members against ratifying the draft ruling on Friday.
The institute’s chief executive, Paul Hardisty, said the reef continued to face a significant threat from climate change.
“There is some encouraging news in this report and another good year would continue the ­recovery process, but we also have to accept the increasing risk of marine heatwaves that can lead to coral bleaching and the need for the world to reduce carbon emissions,” Dr Hardisty said.
The AIMS Long-Term Monitoring Program, the latest results of which will be released on Monday, found coral recovery across all three of the Great Barrier Reef’s regions – northern, central and southern – stretching 2300km along Queensland’s coastline.

A respite from severe weather events over the past year allowed the recovery, the report finds.
Yet while the survey, conducted between August 2020 and April, shows widespread recovery from coral bleaching events in 2016, 2017 and last year, scientists said it might not be enough to avoid the “in-danger” listing.
In the reef’s northern region, hard coral coverage increased to 27 per cent – near its recorded high of 30 per cent in 1988 – from its lowest level of 14 per cent in the 2018-19 survey report, with the central region at 26 per cent, up from its low of 12 per cent in 2018-19. The southern region was found to have 39 per cent hard coral coverage – up from 23 per cent in 2019.
Anything above 30 per cent is considered high coverage.
AIMS researchers also found the severity of bleaching was generally low where it existed and that 75 of the 127 reefs visited had no bleaching. The survey found just four crown of thorns outbreaks across 3000 individual reefs.
Full story ($)
3) China & climate alarmists lose battle as World Heritage Committee agrees not to place Great Barrier Reef on ‘in danger’ list
The Guardian, 23 July 2021

Unesco says ‘the facts are the facts and the science is the science’ after its recommendation is ignored
The Great Barrier Reef will not be placed on a list of world heritage sites “in danger” after a global lobbying effort from Australia against the proposed listing.
The 21-country World Heritage Committee on Friday ignored a scientific assessment from the UN’s science and culture organisation, Unesco, that the reef was clearly in danger from climate change and so should be placed on the list.
Unesco will instead be asked to carry out a mission to the 2,300km reef in the coming months and Australia will need to send a progress report to the agency by February 2022 – earlier than a December 2022 deadline it had asked for.

Environment groups said the decision was a victory for cynical lobbying and that Australia, as custodians of the world’s biggest coral reef, was now on probation.

Ahead of Friday’s meeting, the Australian government had conducted a fierce campaign to block the danger listing. More than a dozen ambassadors flew from Canberra to Cairns, Queensland, for a snorkelling trip on the reef.

Australia’s environment minister, Sussan Ley, was dispatched to Europe on an RAAF diplomatic jet to visit Budapest, Madrid, Sarajevo, Paris, Oman and the Maldives.

Australia – a major producer and exporter of coal and gas – initially won support from oil-rich Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, both members of the committee, to delay any decision on the danger listing until at least 2023.
But after an interjection from Norway, the committee decided instead the reef’s health would be considered again at next year’s meeting.
A document tabled to the committee earlier this week showed other members of the committee supporting Australia were Saint Kitts and Nevis, Ethiopia, Hungary, Mali, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia and Spain.
Ley said the committee’s backing of Australia would give “reef managers, marine scientists and land managers” a chance to show their “outstanding work”.
“Our concern was always that Unesco had sought an immediate ‘in danger listing’ without appropriate consultation, without a site visit and without all the latest information, and it is clear that this process has concerned not only Australia but other nations as well,” she said.
Fellow Liberal party member and NSW state environment minister, Matt Kean, wrote on Twitter: “Political lobbying does not change the science.”
Labor’s federal environment spokesperson, Terri Butler, said Australia had a “temporary reprieve” and the Morrison government must “dramatically lift their game” on protecting the reef.
Full story
4) Global food security secured: RNA breakthrough creates crops that can grow 50% more potatoes & rice 
University of Chicago News, 22 July 2021
UChicago-led research could yield increased food production, boost drought tolerance


A genetic tweak that targets RNA can grow crops that yield significantly more food and show increased drought tolerance, announced scientists from the University of Chicago, Peking University and Guizhou University.
Manipulating RNA can allow plants to yield dramatically more crops, as well as increasing drought tolerance, announced a group of scientists from the University of Chicago, Peking University and Guizhou University.

In initial tests, adding a gene encoding for a protein called FTO to both rice and potato plants increased their yield by 50% in field tests. The plants grew significantly larger, produced longer root systems and were better able to tolerate drought stress. Analysis also showed that the plants had increased their rate of photosynthesis.

“The change really is dramatic,” said University of Chicago Prof. Chuan He, who together with Prof. Guifang Jia at Peking University led the research. “What’s more, it worked with almost every type of plant we tried it with so far, and it’s a very simple modification to make.”
The researchers—along with other leading experts—are hopeful about the potential of this breakthrough, especially in the face of climate change and other pressures on crop systems worldwide.
“This really provides the possibility of engineering plants to potentially improve the ecosystem as global warming proceeds,” said He, who is the John T. Wilson Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. “We rely on plants for many, many things—everything from wood, food, and medicine, to flowers and oil—and this potentially offers a way to increase the stock material we can get from most plants.”
“This is a very exciting technology and could potentially help address problems of poverty and food insecurity at a global scale—and could also potentially be useful in responding to climate change,” said Michael Kremer, who was awarded a Nobel Prize for his work on alleviating global poverty, and is the University Professor in Economics and the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.
Rice nudged along
For decades, scientists have been working to boost crop production in the face of an increasingly unstable climate and a growing global population. But such processes are usually complicated, and often result only in incremental changes.

The way this discovery came about was quite different.
Many of us remember RNA from high school biology, where we were taught that the RNA molecule reads DNA, then makes proteins to carry out tasks. But in 2011, He’s lab opened an entire new field of research by discovering the keys to a different way that genes are expressed in mammals. It turns out that RNA doesn’t simply read the DNA blueprint and carry it out blindly; the cell itself can also regulate which parts of the blueprint get expressed.
It does so by placing chemical markers onto RNA to modulate which proteins are made and how many.
He and his colleagues immediately realized that this had major implications for biology. Since then, his team and others around the world have been trying to flesh out our understanding of the process and what it affects in animals, plants and different human diseases; for example, He is a co-founder of a biotech company now developing new anti-cancer medicines based on targeting RNA modification proteins.
He and Guifang Jia, a former UChicago postdoctoral researcher who is now an associate professor at Peking University, began to wonder how it affected plant biology.
They focused on a protein called FTO, the first known protein that erases chemical marks on RNA, which Jia found as a postdoctoral researcher in He’s group at UChicago. The scientists knew it worked on RNA to affect cell growth in humans and other animals, so they tried inserting the gene for it into rice plants—and then watched in amazement as the plants took off.

“I think right then was when all of us realized we were doing something special,” He said.

The rice plants grew three times more rice under laboratory conditions. When they tried it out in real field tests, the plants grew 50% more mass and yielded 50% more rice. They grew longer roots, photosynthesized more efficiently, and could better withstand stress from drought.
The scientists repeated the experiments with potato plants, which are part of a completely different family. The results were the same.
“That suggested a degree of universality that was extremely exciting,” He said.
Full story
5) Climate crisis? What climate crisis? CO2 emissions set to hit record levels in 2023 and there’s ‘no clear peak in sight,’ IEA says
CNBC, 20 July 2021

Only a small chunk of governments’ recovery spending in response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been allocated to clean energy measures, according to the International Energy Agency, with the Paris-based organization forecasting that carbon dioxide emissions will hit record levels in 2023.
Published on Tuesday, the IEA’s analysis notes that, as of the second quarter of this year, the world’s governments had set aside roughly $380 billion for “energy-related sustainable recovery measures.” This represents approximately 2% of recovery spending, it said. 
In a statement issued alongside its analysis, the IEA laid out a stark picture of just how much work needed to be done in order for climate related targets to be met.

“The sums of money, both public and private, being mobilised worldwide by recovery plans fall well short of what is needed to reach international climate goals,” it said. 

These shortfalls were “particularly pronounced in emerging and developing economies, many of which face particular financing challenges,” it added. 

Looking ahead, the Paris-based organization estimated that, under current spending plans, the planet’s carbon dioxide emissions would be on course to hit record levels in 2023 and continue to grow in the ensuing years. There was, its analysis claimed, “no clear peak in sight.”

Commenting on the findings, Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director, said: “Since the Covid-19 crisis erupted, many governments may have talked about the importance of building back better for a cleaner future, but many of them are yet to put their money where their mouth is.”

“Despite increased climate ambitions, the amount of economic recovery funds being spent on clean energy is just a small sliver of the total,” he added.
Full story
6) And finally: The usual COP ritual - 100 days to save the planet, John Kerry claims
London Evening Standard, 21 July 2021

US climate envoy John Kerry has said there are 100 days to save the next 100 years as he called on China to increase the speed of its efforts to cut carbon emissions.


In a speech at Kew Gardens in London, Mr Kerry said meeting the 1.5C limit will be impossible without China taking action, adding that the US and China had to work together to tackle the issue.

“It’s not a mystery that the US and China have many differences but on climate cooperation, it is the only way to break free from the world’s current mutual suicide pact”, he warned.

His comments were made ahead of a G20 environment ministers meeting in Italy later this week.

Speaking on the key COP26 gathering in Glasgow in November, he said that “in little more than 100 days we can save the next 100 years”.

He added: “My friends, there is still time to put a 1.5C future back in reach but only if every major economy commits to meaningful reductions by 2030, that’s the only way to put the world on a credible track to global net zero by mid-century.

“At or before Cop26 we need to see the major economies of the world not just set ambitious targets but we need to have clear plans over the next decade.

Full story

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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