Russell Reichelt, chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, said this week that activist scientists, green lobbyists, and environmental organizations have distorted “surveys, maps and data” to intentionally mislead the “extent and impact of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.”
A new report on the barrier reef’s health was released last week by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science. It showed that only 22 percent of the reef was affected by the now-dissipated 2015-2016 El Niño, and that current conservation efforts over the last few years have taken the reef off of the World Heritage sites ‘watch’ list.
Numerous reports from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other activist organizations said that much of the barrier reef was bleached, or killed, by the warm waters triggered by the strong, naturally occurring El Niño and global warming.
Dr. Reichelt said the bulk of the coral bleaching was confined to the far northern section off Cape York, which had the best prospect of recovery due to the lack of onshore development, pollution run-off, and higher water quality. Reports from media outlets like The Guardian also reported the reef’s so-called mass bleaching, even though it was based on information provided by Big Green, climactivists, and overly zealous scientists.
Scientists like Australia’s former climate change commissioner Tim Flannery, who said that diving near the Great Barrier Reef was “one of the saddest days of my life. This great organism, the size of Germany and arguably the most diverse place on earth, is dying before our eyes,’’ Flannery wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald. He then compared it to watching his father die a slow, inextricable death two years ago. “This is death, which ever-rising temperatures will allow no recovery from. Unless we act now.”
Hardly. Reichelt said Flannery’s comments were “dramatic” and “theatrical” and his prognosis was “speculative.” As noted, the overall mortality rate that was confined mostly to one small area was only 22 percent. And the areas that tourists visit most often only lost 2 percent. Even the U.N. Chief said the management of the reef in recent years has been top-notch.
Like Flannery, the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce headed by Terry Hughes is at loggerheads with the Barrier Reef agency that produced this latest report. Reichelt said the GBRMPA had withdrawn from a joint announcement on coral bleaching with Hughes “because we didn’t think it told the whole story.” The taskforce said mass bleaching had killed 35 percent of corals on the northern and central Great Barrier Reef. Reichelt said the maps accompanying the research were “misleading and exaggerated the impact.”
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