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?

Great Barrier Reef: alive and well

Doing OK

The UK Telegraph reports that a study has shown the health of the GBR has been markedly improved by the emissions reductions policies implemented throughout the globe which have halted climate change… er, no, wait, a strict fishing ban:

The study has raised hopes that years of decline on the world’s biggest living organism can be reversed.

Australian researchers said their findings had proved “no-take” zones set up in 2004 to prohibit fishing have had a significant benefit.

“The results are actually quite impressive. Having a higher proportion of protected areas is good for marine life, it’s good for fish and it’s good for people who rely on the reef for a living,” said Laurence McCook, the lead author of the report by the Australian Research Centre’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences, shows the zones have more and bigger fish, including sharks, and less damage to coral.

“That’s a very important result not only for the reef, because corals build the reef, but it’s also important for the tourism and fishing industries because fish rely on coral for their habitat,” said Mr McCook.

All good news then? Of course not. We couldn’t end without playing the “Climate Joker”:

However, he warned the reef was also facing a significant danger from climate change, which bleaches the coral and impedes its growth by raising the water’s temperature and acidity.

Phew, I was starting to worry there for a minute…

Read it here.

More Barrier Reef scaremongering

Dangerously rapid warming, as you can see

Dangerously rapid warming, as you can see

Whenever things are a bit slow, and the alarmists are a bit desperate, they throw in a story about some cuddly creature becoming extinct, koalas or possums or polar bears, or in default, that great Aussie icon, the Barrier Reef. So here we go again, with the same ol’ same ol’ story rehashed and spun slightly differently:

THE Great Barrier Reef has only a 50 per cent chance of survival if global CO2 emissions are not reduced at least 25 per cent by 2020, a coalition of Australia’s top reef and climate scientists said today.

The 13 scientists said even deeper cuts of up to 90 per cent by 2050 would necessary if the reef was to survive future coral bleaching and coral death caused by rising ocean temperatures.

We’ve seen the evidence with our own eyes. Climate change is already impacting the Great Barrier Reef,” Terry Hughes, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, said in a briefing to MPs.

Australia is one of the world’s biggest CO2 emitters per capita [What relevance is that? We produce less than 1.5% of global emissions – Ed], but has only pledged to cut its emissions by five per cent from 2000 levels by 2020. The Government said it would go further with a 25 per cent cut, if a tough international climate agreement is reached at UN climate talks in Copenhagen in December, but this is looking increasingly unlikely with legally binding targets now off the agenda.

[Cue violins]This is our Great Barrier Reef. If Australia doesn’t show leadership by reducing emissions to save the reef, who will?” asked scientist Ken Baldwin.

The reality, of course, is that sea surface temperatures around the GBR have hardly risen at all, the reef has been here for hundreds of thousands of years, and has been through more warmings and coolings that Terry Hughes or Ken Baldwin between them have had hot dinners. And it’s still here. And it will still be here long after Terry Hughes and Ken Baldwin are pushing up the daisies. Why? Because reefs adapt. Unlike humans, who panic and throw trillions of dollars at a solution that won’t work.

Read it here.

Cartoons to "teach kids to save Barrier Reef"

The word on the truck sums it up nicely…

The word on the truck sums it up nicely…

Indoctrination Alert as the ABC reports that the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is “targeting children” in its latest effort to protect the reef.

A series of cartoons will go online and be sent to schools around the country to let children know they can play a role in preventing climate change’s impact on the reef.

The authority’s chief scientist, Dr David Wachenfeld says it has enlisted the help of some colourful creatures to get children’s attention.

“We’ve got Hermi the hermit crab who goes through a few trials and tribulations in relation to ocean acidification and we’ve also got some very charismatic coral polyps who do some fairly amusing things in explaining the impacts of climate change and global warming,” he said.

Dr Wachenfeld says while the health of the reef is a serious issue, engaging children is essential for its survival.

“We thought that it was really important that kids understand both what are the risks from climate change to the reef but actually more importantly, what can they and their families do in their homes, their schools and their businesses to help the reef and minimise the impacts of climate change, so that’s really the thrust behind these animations,” he said.

Climate change for dummies, or in this case, children

Climate change for dummies, or in this case, children

The “Climate Change” animation links CO2 to climate change, then links climate change to droughts and droughts to dying plants; it links climate change to “cyclones” that make big waves and smash coral reefs; it links climate change to warming seas causing corals to “lose colour and die and fish to go away”. It then harangues the viewer to “cycle or walk to places instead of going in the car”, “switch off TV and lights when not in the room” (accompanied by a picture of wind farms and solar panels), and “travel by bus instead of flying” (fun if you were going to the US or Europe, say).

And I know you’re all dying to see it, so here’s Hermi in action:

This is yet another example of completely unacceptable brainwashing of our children, sanctioned by the Rudd government, using especially sinister methods to do it. And the most idiotic thing of all, linking the 1.5% of global emissions produced by Australia to the fate of the Barrier Reef. Climate madness.

Check out the other animations here.

Read it here.

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