Corals "adapting to climate change better than previously thought"

Photo of cute PhD student always helps

From The Science is Settled department. The death of the Great Barrier Reef from the evils of man-made global warming is one of the greatest scaremongering arguments of climate alarmists, despite the fact that pollution and run-off from agriculture are far more damaging.

The notion that organisms that have been around for millions of years are unable to adapt to the gentle warming of the late 20th century has always struck me as patently nonsensical. Hypersensitivity to small changes in climate would ensure that most life forms would fail to survive the billions of turbulent years on this planet to be still here today.

Clearly this isn’t what we observe. On a similar note, an earlier post examined how tropical fish can adapt to dramatic temperature changes in just two generations. This assumption of fragility is yet another example of our failure to appreciate the robustness of the ecosystem.

CORAL reefs may be much better able to adapt to rising sea temperatures due to climate change than previously thought, according to a breakthrough Australian discovery revealed yesterday.

The research undertaken at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and published in the journal Nature Climate Change has overturned previously held assumptions about coral bleaching and which corals may survive in warmer waters.

According to PhD student Emily Howells, the findings demonstrate the potential for corals to adapt is more widespread than previously thought.

Further research is under way to establish the speed at which coral can adapt to rising water temperatures, and whether it will be fast enough to survive the impact of climate change.

“As with all scientific discovery it raises further questions,” Ms Howells said. “We hope to have some early results from preliminary experiments later this year.”

The latest discovery is considered important because it has radically increases [sic] the estimated scope of corals that may survive a changing environment. (source)

Given the sea surface temperatures around the GBR are pretty flat, it’s even less likely that your SUV is destroying one of the natural wonders of the world:

GBR Sea Surface Temps

Tropical fish on Barrier Reef adapt in two generations

Am I bovvered?

From the Science is Settled Department comes the news that the fauna of the Barrier Reef can adapt to even sudden changes in water temperature extremely quickly. The Daily Telegraph reports:

ONE of the direst warnings about the effect of climate change on Australia – that rising sea temperatures will devastate the marine life of the Great Barrier Reef – has been dramatically challenged by new research.

Scientists from the CSIRO and James Cook University found that tropical fish easily adapted – and actually thrived – despite being forced to live in water up to 3C warmer than normal, a temperature increase at the highest end of global warming predictions.

They found that it took just two generations of tropical damsel fish, common on the Great Barrier Reef, to adapt when they were reared from birth in tanks of warm water.

The scientists warn that previous methods of studying the ability of tropical fish to cope with rising sea temperatures – by looking at one generation of fish – is flawed.

“We demonstrate that a tropical reef fish is highly sensitive to small increases in water temperature but can rapidly acclimate over multiple generations,” the scientists said in peer-reviewed work published in prestigious journal Nature Climate Change.

“Acute exposure to elevated temperatures predicted to occur this century caused a 15 per cent and 30 per cent respective decrease in individuals’ maximum ability to perform aerobic activities such as swimming or foraging, known as aerobic scope.

“However, complete compensation in aerobic scope occurred when both parents and offspring were reared throughout their lives at elevated temperature.

“Such acclimation could reduce the impact of warming temperatures and allow populations to persist across their current range.

“This study reveals the importance of trans-generational acclimation as a mechanism for coping with rapid climate change and highlights that single generation studies risk underestimating the potential of species to cope. (source)

Once again, the alarmist argument that the planet and its inhabitants cannot adapt to climate change has been shown to be flawed in this case. If the planet were so fragile, how come we have a diverse and thriving ecosystem that has suffered through multiple changes in climate more dramatic than that occurring at present?

Clearly the tropical fish haven’t got around to enacting a carbon tax to “tackle climate change”, so they’re stuck with boring old adaptation which they can clearly accomplish very rapidly. Maybe we should follow their lead?

All pain, no gain

Climate sense

Climate sense from Richard Blandy from the University of South Australia, writing in The Australian today. Even though I do not agree with the necessity to “save the planet” as he puts it, the logic of the government’s climate policy is deeply flawed:

Unilateral action to decarbonise our own economy harms us for no gain in terms of solving the global problem. Enthusiasm for doing our bit to save the planet will surely wane as it becomes clear this is all pain for no gain. Only a watertight international treaty will save the planet. After the fiasco of Copenhagen, such a treaty looks unlikely for a long time. This means the global target of limiting the rise in global temperatures to 2C above pre-industrial levels will not be achieved.

The most sensible climate change policy for Australia in this situation (and for everywhere else, for that matter) is not only to try to put together an international treaty with enough teeth to stop climate change but also to prepare to adapt to a world that will be warmer (wetter? drier? stormier? with higher sea levels?) than at present.

We can do something about adapting to climate change all by ourselves without needing to join in any international treaties.

Whatever happens, we will need to learn how to live with climate change anyway, assuming the projections of the climate change models are correct. This knowledge and the products and services built on it will be much sought after not only by us but by other countries facing the same necessity.

This is what a climate change economy should be built on. (source)

Adaptation not mitigation. It’s obvious. And adaptation needs a strong economy, not one burdened with pointless carbon taxes. Why can the government not grasp this most basic point?

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