Sea Turtles

Australia’s extreme heat here to stay. #ClimateChange #StopAdani #Auspol

How Australia’s extreme heat might be here to stay

By Adam Morton


A section of highway connecting Sydney and Melbourne started to melt.

DRIVERS were being urged to take caution while heading towards Melbourne on the Hume Highway.

A stretch of the road began to melt at Broadford in hot weather on Friday afternoon.

Bats fell dead from the trees, struck down by the heat.

Mounds of dead flying foxes in Campbelltown suburb of Sydney. (Facebook/Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown)

On the northern Great Barrier Reef, 99% of baby green sea turtles, a species whose sex is determined by temperature, were found to be female.

In outer suburban Sydney, the heat hit 47.3C (117F) before a cool change knocked it down – to the relative cool of just 43.6C in a neighbouring suburb the following day.

Scenes from a sci-fi novel depicting a scorched future?

No, just the first days of 2018 in Australia, where summer is in fierce form.

With parts of the US suffering through a particularly grim winter, extremes in both hemispheres have triggered discussions about the links between current events and the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Climate change ‘no brainer’

The climate system is incredibly complex and no weather event can be directly attributed to rising emissions, but everything that is experienced today happens in a world that is about one degree warmer than the long-term mean.

Prof Andy Pitman, the director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes at the University of New South Wales, says given the average temperature has risen it is a “no brainer” that the likelihood of the sort of heat that hit Sydney last week has also increased.

Sydney swelters on hottest day since 1939

Reactions to extreme weather in US and Australia

“It was a meteorological anomaly, but the probability works a bit like if you stand at sea level and throw a ball in the air, and then gradually make your way up a mountain and throw the ball in the air again,” he says.

“The chances of the ball going higher increases dramatically.

That’s what we’re doing with temperature.”

Sydney has experienced a sweltering start to 2018

While it is record-breaking that tends to make news, scientists say it is the unbroken run of hot days in the high 30s and 40s that causes the significant problems for human health, and other life.

Health officials in Victoria highlighted the threat of heatwaves when they found about 374 more people died during an extreme three-day period in January 2009 than would have been expected had it been cooler.

There has, however, been relatively little investment in research into the health impact of escalating maximum temperatures.

A paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change last year said while a government report called for greater focus on the area 25 years ago, less than 0.1% of health funding since has been dedicated to the impact of climate change.

Hundreds of bats die as Sydney swelters

Australia had third-warmest year on record

VR shows terrifying reality of bushfires

Prof Pitman says Australia is yet to properly consider the health risks of a warming planet.

“It’s not being able to cool down at night, and in the days that follow, that causes problems,” he says.

“I was camping in the Blue Mountains [west of Sydney] on Saturday night. It was about 30 degrees at midnight, and I could feel my heart racing. Now, that extra stress on my cardiovascular system didn’t kill me, but it might have if I was 20 years older.”

Last year was Australia’s third-warmest year since records began, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Globally, it was the second or third warmest, and comfortably the hottest year in which there was not an El Niño weather system helping push up temperatures further.

Put another way: it is now hotter without an El Niño than it was with an El Niño just a few years ago.

Far-reaching impact

In eastern Australia – where the bulk of the population lives – temperatures were particularly inflated during summer months, when an increase is most likely to lead to uncomfortable or dangerous heat.

Several locations had runs of record hot days and nights. More than 40% of the most populous state, New South Wales, recorded at least 50 days hotter than 35C. The town of Moree had 54 consecutive days of extreme heat.

“Across Australia, the last five years were all in the top seven years on record. That’s quite a striking signal,” the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s Dr Blair Trewin says.

The extra energy warming up the climate system is also being felt in several ways. The bushfires season starts earlier than it used to, and Australia has already experienced wild blazes this season.

Along with the increased background heat, this is in part due to a clear drying pattern in some areas.

Rainfall is down for both the south-east and south-west of the country in the cooler months months between April and October.

“That also has quite significant impacts for agriculture because historically that’s when they get most of their inflows,” Dr Trewin says.

The impact of warming on the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, the only living structure visible from space, has been well documented. Estimates suggest about half its shallow-water coral was killed during bleaching events over the past two years linked to increased water temperatures.

Damage to Australia’s reef ‘unprecedented’

Further south, the sea along Tasmania’s east coast has warmed dramatically, pushing tropical species to unlikely high latitudes and coinciding with the disappearance of giant kelp forests.

Some weather patterns have not changed. There is no evidence of variations in cyclone behaviour or the frequency or intensity of large hail and lightning, for instance.

All this comes against a backdrop of political fighting over how to tackle climate change.

It is less than a year since senior government members brandished a piece of coal in parliament to taunt the Labor opposition, whom ministers accused of wanting to see an end to the fossil fuel industry.

The Malcolm Turnbull-led government remains committed to a 2030 target pledged at the Paris climate talks: a 26-to-28% cut below 2005 emissions.

It says it can cut emissions while shielding the public and business from unnecessary price rises.

It also points out that Australia is directly responsible for little more than 1% of global emissions (though it is responsible for about 30% of the global coal trade).

But national greenhouse accounts released in the week before Christmas showed Australia’s industrial emissions have been on an upward curve since 2014, when the government repealed carbon pricing laws, which required big business to pay for its pollution.

Emissions had fallen in the two years the laws were in place. The latest projections in the accounts suggest Australia will overshoot its 2030 target unless new policies are introduced to arrest the growth.

“There really isn’t an argument that climate change isn’t true in parliament anymore,” Prof Pitman says. “You’d find a couple of members of parliament that say that, but you’d also find a couple who didn’t believe in evolution and didn’t believe in inoculating children against disease.

“The issue now is that the scale of concern – and the action under way or committed to both in Australia and internationally – doesn’t match the scale of the problem.”

Press link for more: BBC.COM


Tourism spokesman attacks the messenger. #StopAdani #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #Coral

Great Barrier Reef tourism spokesman attacks scientist over slump in visitors

Col McKenzie calls on government to stop funding work of Terry Hughes, saying tourists ‘won’t do long-haul trips when they think the reef is dead’

Amy RemeikisLast modified on Sat 13 Jan 2018 06.02 AEDT

A leading scientist has been accused of exaggerating the damage to the Great Barrier Reef, which a tourism representative said had hurt the region’s multibillion-dollar tourism industry. Photograph: Richard Fitzpatrick

A Queensland tourism representative has called one of the Great Barrier Reef’s leading researchers “a dick”, blaming the professor for a downturn in tourism growth at the state’s greatest natural asset.

Col McKenzie, the head of the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators, a group that represents more than 100 businesses in the Great Barrier Reef, has written to the federal government asking it to stop funding the work of Professor Terry Hughes, claiming his comments were “misleading” and damaging the tourism industry.

But the Australian Conservation Foundation said tourism representatives and operators like McKenzie should stop blaming scientists for reporting what was happening to the reef and start targeting major polluters to ensure change.

Hughes, who serves as the director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and is considered one of the world’s leading experts on the reef, has been warning of the damage rising water temperatures have been inflicting on the reef for years.

People won’t do long-haul trips when they think the reef is dead

Col McKe, Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators

While not disagreeing there was work to be done on the reef’s health, McKenzie accused Hughes of exaggerating the damage, which he said has been detrimental to the region’s multibillion-dollar tourism industry.

Professor Terry Hughes

Col McKenzie

“I think Terry Hughes is a dick,” he told Guardian Australia. “I believe he has done tens of millions of dollars of damage to our reef in our key markets, being America and Europe.

You went to those areas in 2017 and they were convinced the reef was dead. And people won’t do long-haul trips when they think the reef is dead.”

McKenzie said in 2016, tourism growth in the region had returned to pre-global financial crisis levels, before “that growth died” in 2017, which he blamed on Hughes “negative comments”.

In April 2016 Hughes made international headlines after releasing his final report on extensive aerial and underwater surveys, which showed that of the surveyed reefs (911 individual reefs), only 7% had escaped coral bleaching.

A scientist measures coral mortality in October 2016 following bleaching on the northern Great Barrier Reef. Photograph: Tane Sinclair-Taylor/AP

McKenzie said that gave the impression the reef was “dead”. “All driven off the back of the negative comments made by a researcher paid entirely by commonwealth funds. I think it is a misuse of commonwealth funds to make false or misleading comments to the media.”

Reality Check

He has previously written to ministers Christopher Pyne and Greg Hunt over the issue and said he had spoken to Josh Frydenberg “informally”.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Research Council said the council had provided $28m over the past seven years to James Cook University to fund the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, with the funding going to the centre as a whole, not an individual.

“All projects funded through the ARC are subject to rigorous assessment and only the highest-quality applications are funded,” she said in a statement.

“The ARC monitors all projects that it funds for the achievement of their goals.

All projects funded through the ARC are expected to be undertaken in accordance with the Australian code for the responsible conduct of research, which applies to the quality and integrity of the research.”

Hughes did not respond to McKenzie’s comments directly, but included his most recent peer-reviewed articles in Science and Nature, which deal with the increased incidence of coral bleaching as a result of rising sea temperatures.

His Science paper, published on 5 January, found that coral bleaching events were now happening too regularly to allow the reef to adequately recover.

“We analysed bleaching records at 100 globally distributed reef locations from 1980 to 2016,” the paper reported. “The median return time between pairs of severe bleaching events has diminished steadily since 1980 and is now only six years.”

The CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Kelly O’Shanassy, said too much was at stake for tourism operators to blame scientists for what was actually happening to the reef and the real problem, climate change, had to be addressed.

“Blaming scientists and attempting to get their funding cut is the worst possible response to this crisis,” she said. “Scientists are not to blame. Big polluters and their political allies are to blame. We need high-quality science more than ever so we can monitor and track what’s happening to the reef.”

Darrell Wade, the executive chair of Intrepid Travel, also disputed the idea that talking about environmental problems kept tourists away.

“The idea that conservation and tourism could be at odds on this issue is crazy,” Wade said. “It’s been implied that talking about the issues will have a negative impact on business – but we’ve actually found that the opposite is true.”

The latest health report from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority found outbreaks of crown-of-thorn starfish across the reef.

It noted the world heritage site has experienced “multiple significant impacts” over the past two years, including “severe coral bleaching, outbreaks of coral disease and crown-of-thorns starfish, and a severe tropical cyclone and subsequent flood plumes”.

“The significant heat stress experienced during summer 2016-17 – along with a warmer than average winter and spring in 2017 – means corals faced continued stress and will potentially be more susceptible to bleaching and disease in early 2018,” it reported.

Press link for more: The Guardian

Climate Change Has Quadrupled Ocean ‘Dead Zones,’ #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol

The size of oxygen-starved ocean “dead zones,” where plants and animals struggle to survive, has increased fourfold around the world, according to a new scientific analysis.

The growth of the zones is yet another consequence of global warming — including increasing ocean temperatures — triggered by greenhouse gases and, closer to the coasts, contamination by agricultural runoff and sewage.

Our suffocating oceans: Red dots mark spots along coasts where oxygen has plummeted to 2 milligrams per liter or less. Blue areas mark varying levels of low oxygen in the open ocean.

“Rising nutrient loads coupled with climate change — each resulting from human activities — are changing ocean biogeochemistry and increasing oxygen consumption,” says the study published in the journal Science.

Ultimately, such changes are “unsustainable and may result in ecosystem collapses, which ultimately will cause societal and economic harm.”

The analysis of the oxygen-starved zones was conducted by a team of scientists from the Global Oxygen Network (GO2NE),  created in 2016 by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations.

Researchers determined that open-ocean “oxygen-minimum” zones have expanded since 1950 by an area roughy equivalent to the size of the European Union.

The volume of ocean water completely devoid of oxygen has more than quadrupled in that time, the study found.

The number of hypoxic, or oxygen depleted, zones along coasts has increased up to 10 times, from less than 50 to 500.

Denise Breitburg, a marine ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and lead author of the study, called the plunge in ocean oxygen “among the most serious effects of human activities on the Earth’s environment.” Oxygen is “fundamental to life in the oceans,” she said in a statement.

“If you can’t breathe, nothing else matters,” Breitburg told The Associated Press. “As seas are losing oxygen, those areas are no longer habitable by many organisms.”

But the threat isn’t just to life in the oceans, which account for about half of the oxygen on the planet.

Major extinction events in Earth’s history have been associated with warm climates and oxygen-deficient oceans,” the study warns.

Consequences for ocean life can be significant even in areas where oxygen is merely low. Sea life may be stunted and immune responses impaired in such areas, resulting in poor survival rates and a decrease in healthy diversity, scientists warn.

The scientists recommend salvaging oxygen-starved areas by tackling climate change and nutrient pollution, focusing on protecting particularly vulnerable sea life with no-catch or no-fishing zones, and increasing and improving surveillance of areas where oxygen is plummeting.

Breitburg concedes that addressing global warming can seem daunting, but she says focused local efforts to protect areas can be effective. She points to changes in the Chesapeake Bay, where nitrogen pollution dropped 24 percent from its worst levels after sewage treatment and protections mandated by the Clean Air Act began. Areas of the bay with zero oxygen zones have nearly vanished, according to Breitburg.

Even with “ambitious emission reductions,” however, numerical models project “further oxygen declines during the 21st century,” the study warns.

Press link for more (including video) Huffington Post

It’s not over yet. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #CoalWar

Adani’s mega mine: it’s not over yet

January 10 2018 – 12:15AM

A couple of months ago, Adani looked set to defy economic logic, popular opposition and the urgent reality of climate change.

Before Queensland’s election campaign began, the prospect of Adani receiving a $1 billion public bailout from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) loomed large.

Adani cancels Downer contract

Adani faces more questions over the fate of its controversial Queensland coal mine after it agreed to part ways with mining services company Downer.

It then emerged that Adani had been in discussions with China Machinery Engineering Corp (CMEC) about its possible involvement in the Carmichael mine. In CMEC, Adani had a prospective engineering partner, but also an investor and one that would open doors to Chinese financial institutions providing credit.

Adani even had the Australian government on its side, providing assurances to the Chinese embassy that everything was tickety-boo with the proposed mega coal mine and rail complex.

The Adani coal mine is opposed by over 70 per cent of people who know about the project. Photo: AAP

All of a sudden there was a plausible – albeit absurd on many levels – pathway that Adani might find to secure the billions of dollars it needed for the Carmichael mine to proceed.

And then it all fell to pieces.

A week into the Queensland election campaign, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk committed to vetoing Adani’s NAIF loan, a promise that became her first act once re-elected.

Then, one by one, major Chinese banks ruled out participating in the project. Starting with China Construction Bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China and then China Merchants Bank.

By the end of 2017, 28 global banks had ruled out all or part of the Galilee Basin coal export projects by policy or direct statement.

The banks’ statements were obviously not coincidental, as the Chinese embassy responded to lobbying from former foreign minister Bob Carr to confirm that “the relevant company will discontinue discussions with Adani over possible co-operation. No Chinese financial institution will involve itself”.

But it didn’t end there.

In December, Downer EDI left the project. Adani claimed this was a cost-saving measure, which makes you wonder why in 2014 it gave Downer the “letters of award” to construct the mine in the first place.

So is that it then? Is it over? Don’t count on it.

Remember: the Carmichael coal project still makes up half the book value of the parent company, Adani Enterprises. Admitting defeat would be halving the value of the company and doubling its debt to equity ratio overnight.

More significantly for Adani’s Australian operations, failure to build the mine puts Adani’s Abbot Point coal export terminal at significant risk of becoming stranded, as the Carmichael mine was Adani’s best chance of replacing coal-handling contracts otherwise set to expire over the next five years.

Adani will push this project until no other funding options remain. It has said it can build the rail line without the NAIF loan.

Let’s also keep in mind Adani’s NAIF proposal was not the only one, as Aurizon had made its own pitch for an alternative rail line to open up the Galilee Basin.

Bizarrely, Aurizon still appears to be pursuing this proposal, even though its current sustainability report demonstrates how Australian coal export volumes would fall as the world meets the Paris climate change agreement.

Opening up the Galilee Basin would surely just undermine other Aurizon clients in Queensland and NSW who have to compete in a shrinking and saturated market.

The Queensland government is yet to decide whether it would veto Aurizon’s loan, though this would make sense given the rationale for rejecting Adani’s loan was the Carmichael project should have to stand on its own two feet financially.

Aurizon’s proposal would potentially be of greater benefit to Adani, as it would reduce the overall cost of the Carmichael mine and rail project by $2 billion.

But we’ve learned that what is sensible and rational need not square with the Carmichael project.

After all, here we are at the start of 2018 still talking about the prospect of allowing the largest thermal coal mine in Australia to proceed, heavily subsidised by the taxpayer, opposed by over 70 per cent of people who know about the project, in a context of the thermal coal trade in structural decline and in the middle of a climate crisis.

Its pulse may be faint, but Adani’s proposed coal mine lives on – for now.

Julien Vincent is the executive director of Market Forces.

Press link for more: SMH.COM

Heartbroken scientists lament likely loss of ‘most of world’s coral reefs’ #StopAdani #auspol

For decades, marine scientists have been warning of the demise of coral reefs in a warming world.

But now, those warning calls have reached a full-scale alarm, leaving researchers at a loss for exactly how best to save the reefs.

A study published Thursday in Science by some of the world’s top coral experts amounts to a last rites for the ecosystems often referred to as “the tropical rainforests of the sea.” Scientists surveyed 100 reefs around the world and found that extreme bleaching events that once occurred every 25 or 30 years now happen about every five or six years.

Bleaching happens when corals become overheated and expel the symbiotic algae that feed them. Without the algae to photosynthesize their food for them, corals stop growing and become more susceptible to disease. If water temperatures remain too high for too long, the corals can die.

With the time transpiring between bleaching events shortened by a factor of five, there isn’t adequate time for the ecosystems to recover.

Even the fastest-growing corals that survive a major bleaching event need about 10 years to regain their health.

These damaging events are now occurring more quickly virtually eliminates any serious chance of large-scale recovery on a global scale.

Huge portions of the world’s reefs face almost certain death — and that loss will reverberate beyond earth’s oceans.

“These impacts are stacking up at a pace and at a severity that I never had anticipated, even as an expert,” says Kim Cobb, a climate scientist and coral researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “It’s really the rapidity of it that is so sobering and shocking — and for me personally, life-altering.”

Cobb, who is not affiliated with the new study, had first-hand experience with the latest and most severe instance of global coral bleaching: a three-year event that hit almost every major reef system in the world and eventually decimated portions of the Great Barrier Reef. In 2016, around the height of the bleaching, she made a series of dives off remote Kiritimati Island, due south of Hawaii. There, Cobb watched in horror as roughly 80 percent of one of the most pristine coral ecosystems in the world died in a matter of months.

“Before the 1980s, mass bleaching of corals was unheard of,” Terry Hughes, a coral scientist at Australia’s James Cook University and lead author of the new study, said in a statement.

Hughes personally surveyed thousands of miles of the Great Barrier Reef during the 2015 and 2016 bleaching. “It broke my heart,” he told the Guardian last year.

The new study finds that 94 percent of surveyed coral reefs have experienced a severe bleaching event since the 1980s.

Only six sites surveyed were unaffected. They are scattered around the world, meaning no ocean basin on Earth has been entirely spared.

The implications of these data in a warming world, taken together with other ongoing marine stressors like overfishing and pollution, are damning.

“It is clear already that we’re going to lose most of the world’s coral reefs,” says study coauthor Mark Eakin, coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Watch program.

He adds that by 2050, ocean temperatures will be warm enough to cause annual bleaching of 90 percent of the world’s reefs.

For conservation biologists like Josh Drew, whose work focuses on coral reefs near Fiji, that loss of recovery time amounts to a “death warrant for coral reefs as we know them.”

“I’m not saying we’re not going to have reefs at all, but those reefs that survive are going to be fundamentally different,” says Drew, who is not affiliated with the new study. “We are selecting for corals that are effectively weedy, for things that can grow back in two to three years, for things that are accustomed to having hot water.”

Reefs are incalculably important not only as a harbor for life — they shelter about one-quarter of all marine species in just a half-percent of the ocean’s surface area — but also for human nutrition and many nation’s economies. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide depend on reef species as a primary protein source, and tourists bring tens of billions of dollars to coastal regions and island chains each year to get a peek at the underwater ecosystems.

Researchers are struggling to think about what the loss of such an integral part of the Earth might mean in the decades ahead. And scientists, like NOAA’s Eakin, have changed their outlooks on the scale of action that’s necessary to save the world’s coral reefs.

“We need to be looking at much more radical actions to preserve those reefs that we still can preserve,” he says.

In the best case, some researchers point to extreme measures like genetically modifying super corals to withstand increased temperatures, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or even geoengineering as the only remaining options for saving corals at a large scale. Another approach involves identifying the few dozen reefs around the world most likely to survive and instituting crash-conservation methods to transform each one into a kind of seed bank for future generations after climate change has stabilized.

As you might expect, each of these ideas is highly controversial. But increasingly, coral researchers are willing to support a kind of “all-of-the-above” strategy, to avoid the worst case — losing corals entirely.

“It’s scary to think of what the oceans might look like once we degrade reefs as much as they’re likely to degrade in the next 50 years,” says Georgia Tech’s Cobb. “It will be so profoundly reshaped that it’s kind of a scientific no-man’s land.”

If there’s one consensus among the coral community, it’s that this is unequivocally the last call for saving the reefs.

It’s truly an all-hands-on-deck moment.

“I don’t have the hubris — and none of us have the data — to say what strategy will work and what won’t,” Cobb says. “What is categorically unacceptable for me is to not try.”

Press link for more:

Climate Change could kill 50-80% of Pacific fish. #StopAdani #Qldvotes #CoralnotCoal

Climate change could kill 50-80% of Pacific fish species: study

From Dateline Pacific, 6:04 am today

Pacific island nations could lose between 50 and 80 percent of their fish species by the end of the century if climate change continues unabated.

The figure is published in a new study, published in the journal Marine Policy, which examined more than a thousand species across the region to see how they are reacting to changes in the ocean.

Its lead researcher, associate professor Rebecca Asch from the University of East Carolina, says the Pacific’s temperature has little variability, with the temperature being more or less the same all year.

She told Jamie Tahana this means species are unlikely to be able to adapt to dramatic changes in ocean temperatures, and could die out.

REBECCA ASCH: So we did look at two climate change scenarios. One that is a warmer kind of scenario where we are getting changes. Generally between two and four degrees. There is a scenario where if everyone came together and really took mitigating climate change seriously the warming would only be about one degree. Which would be a much better situation.

JAMIE TAHANA: And on that sort of more bleak scenario a prediction of between 50 and 80 percent of species extinction or migration that is a very dramatic number how did you come to that?

RA: Well what we did is we looked at the habitat species used and where that habitat will be in the future and on a regional basis what we looked at is for each region of the ocean how much species will gain locally versus how many basically leave that area. So it is a local extinction those species still might be occurring in other parts of the ocean but not necessarily the regions where they were in the past. And so what we have been finding is that the gains for most areas are fairly low often about two to six percent of biodiversity but these losses are a lot higher and there are some areas where it does exceed 80 percent but overall all over the Pacific you kind of have losses that are kind of in the 50 to 60 percent range. And this is kind of at the end of the century under the higher climate change impact scenario.

JT: Is that largely because the Pacific is quite a static temperature and the species can’t adapt to a change?

RA: Yeah that is part of it. So basically if you look at kind of the seasonal cycle how much temperature varies. The most variability over the course of the year tends to be in the mid latitudes and in the lower latitudes as well as at the poles you don’t to get as much change which means that organisms are often very kind of adapted to a narrow range of temperature and that means that you know if temperatures go beyond that range we are either going to have species migrating out of an area decreasing in abundance or in some cases you could get adaptation to these changes. But the question is just as the changes are happening fairly quickly so can organisms adapt quickly enough.

JT: Yes because adaptation is a sort of really slow process isn’t it and if we have had these dramatic changes in mere decades.

RA: Yes that is exactly. Like there is some cases where you can get rapid evolution but that is something that we can’t count on happening.

JT: To what extent is this affecting the species that Pacific Islanders rely on for their livelihoods or Sustenance and such?

RA: Okay the study looked at about a thousand different species because it was looking at biodiversity patterns and one of the things that was a little bit surprising is that we are then divided up into species that either have more reef fish species or open water species and surprisingly we kind of found similar patterns across a lot of different species. So it does seem like that is going to be a problem though for you know small scale fisheries you know people rely on for subsistence as well as larger scale fisheries are focussing on commercially important species like Tuna.

JT: Already we are starting to see in countries like Kiribati, Tuvalu and that fishermen reporting reduced catches or having to go out further into the sea to actually find fish and stuff is this all part of that? Is it already underway?

RA: So one of the things that is really difficult to sometimes tell is how much is due to fishing pressure as well as changes in climate and for the most part it is something where you know often times trends that we see are a bit of those and certainly that would be consistent with projections that people might see under climate change. But you know it may be a kind of a combination of historical or over-fishing as well.

JT: Is this trend reversible. You say kind of the 50 to 80 percent is sort of in the worst case scenario of global warming but say with the targets I mean we have got all the world leaders in Germany at the moment trying to thrash out some rules for climate action and stuff. If action comes together is this avoidable or reversible or anything?

RA: It think that avoidable is definitely a possibility. I think the hard thing is once we have CO2 in the atmosphere a lot of it will stick around for centuries so once it happens it is going to take a long time to reverse. But I think we are still at a point in time where we can avoid the worst impacts scenario. So like I think that this is a really important moment in history for that reason and we did find that for a lot of the climate variables if you kind of take this best case scenario where we do take action now the changes in things like temperature, Ph will be two to four times smaller than otherwise. So that is certainly going to have a positive impact compared to a business as usual scenario.

Press link for more: Radio New Zealand

Scientists have become angry! #ClimateChange #Coral #StopAdani 

The amazing biological fixes that could help save the Great Barrier Reef

October 3 2017

In just the past two years, up to half the coral on the Great Barrier Reef has died.

 The world has reacted differentially to this disaster. 

Publics have been shocked. 

Conservationists have cried.

 The tourism industry has fractured. 

Some opportunistic politicians have denied. 

And scientists, what have we done?

 We’ve become angry.
Scientists have known this was going to happen for years. I have been teaching climate change and coral bleaching as part of core curriculum since I first began as a young academic in 2001. We have been watching the world in disbelief; watching the world careen down a collision course with its own climate.
Somehow, we thought that common sense would prevail – that politicians and businesses and people would change course before it was too late. And then, suddenly, it was too late for half of the corals on the world’s largest contiguous reef system – our national natural treasure.
The only good news is that when scientists get angry, we get active. In response to two consecutive years of mass coral mortality, some scientists have ramped up the pressure on decision makers, demanding they rapidly adopt evidence-based policies on energy.
Bleaching corals off Port Douglas.

Bleaching corals off Port Douglas. Photo: Dean Miller

Some have ramped up efforts to reduce other reef stressors, such as poor water quality, to increase resilience. 

And some have ramped up their creative efforts to provide fixes, be they technological, sociological or biological.
It is the biological solutions that are fascinating me right now. 

Can we save a reef?

As a professor of marine ecology and the newest member of the board of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, I believe this question is paramount. 

We know the increasing temperature of ocean waters are threatening reefs around the world. We know that when ocean temperatures are too warm, for too long, coral animals eject their symbionts. That is, they throw the microscopic algae that live within them out into the sea.
That means they lose their colour, they bleach. But more importantly, they lose their major source of food. If the waters do not quickly cool, the ghostly white corals starve to death.
Coral bleaching has returned to the Great Barrier Reef in 2017.

Coral bleaching has returned to the Great Barrier Reef in 2017. Photo: James Cook University

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, of the University of Queensland, was one of the first to study this process of bleaching and to warn us of the impending global ecosystem collapse.
Almost 30 years later, and a paradigm shift in conservation biology is almost complete. From “lock it up and let it live”, the pace of climate change has forced us to consider a more interventionist approach. We’re not quite at “whatever it takes”, but our science and the approach to conservation is changing as fast as the world around us. Chair of the marine park authority Dr Russell Reichelt​ says: “Everything is on the table. Leave no stone unturned”. 
Mature stag-horn coral bleached at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef.

Mature stag-horn coral bleached at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef. Photo: David Bellwood

So, scientists are busy in laboratories and reef sites all over the globe in a race to create, select, discover, and cultivate heat-tolerant corals that will withstand the next 50 years of warming oceans – before humanity must, inevitably, achieve net negative carbon emissions, or move to another more habitable planet.
Professor Ruth Gates, director of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, is selecting the toughest corals and “pre-conditioning” others, preparing them for the heat bath.
Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef of the Whitsundays in the Coral sea.

Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef of the Whitsundays in the Coral sea. Photo: Alamy

Professor Madeleine van Oppen​, of the University of Melbourne and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, is creating hybrids and culturing multiple generations of their microscopic algae under heat-stress conditions. 

Her heat-tolerant symbionts can be taken up by bleached corals – but they’ve not yet prevented bleaching.
Other researchers are refining the cryopreservation process (snap-freezing) to produce algal seed banks. If they can get this working, one option might be to fly aeroplanes across the more than 2000 kilometres of the Great Barrier Reef spraying heat-tolerant symbionts across the bleached reefs – aerial first-aid for corals.
A reef flat exposed at low tide on the Great Barrier Reef.

A reef flat exposed at low tide on the Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Penguin Random House Australia

Not all scientists believe such biological fixes will be useful, compared with the rapid evolution already taking place on reefs around the world.
Professor Terry Hughes, director of the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and one of our foremost researchers of reef diversity, is focused more on reducing carbon emissions and building reef resilience through consideration of social, as well as environmental factors. It may well be that we can’t beat rapid natural selection – already under way in vast numbers of surviving corals – in response to this very unnatural disaster.
Divers on the outer Great Barrier Reef off Port Douglas.

Divers on the outer Great Barrier Reef off Port Douglas. Photo: Jason South

It is true that reefs have moved and changed with climate in the past, but such changes occurred over tens of thousands of years, not hundreds. It remains to be seen how many of the coral species and strains can survive, reproduce and disperse with sufficient potential for heritable selection to heat stress.
Finally, not all scientists are convinced of the safety of “assisting evolution” – releasing selectively bred or genetically modified corals or algae on the reef. Memories of previous biological interventions gone wrong still scar our consciousness.
To keep ahead of the science, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is developing a policy for permitting such interventions – one that enables experimental trials on the reef under strict conditions.
Suffice to say, angry scientists are not standing still. We are exploring every possibility. For the burden of knowing the reef – and understanding what lies ahead – is eased by every effort we make to sustain our living treasures.

Professor Emma Johnston is dean of science at UNSW Sydney and host of Can We Save the Reef? airing on Catalyst, Tuesday, October 3 on ABC & ABC iview.

Press link for more: SMH.COM

The Great Barrier Reef needs your help #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldpol #ClimateChange 

The Great Barrier Reef May Not Be Dead Yet, But It’s Not Far Off
Share this article and help save the reef.

Shock and dismay struck the Internet when Outside Magazine released an obituary stating that scientists had declared the Great Barrier Reef dead.

 Thankfully, these reports were not accurate. 

Although the 25 million-year old organism is in grave danger, it is not dead yet. 

Scientists and environmentalists are taking to social media to set the record straight.

Environmental reporter Tony Davis tweeted, “Reports of the Great Barrier Reef’s death are greatly exaggerated, say scientists, booing Outside Magazine.”

 And the Cornell Cooperative Extension at Rockland County, an environmental nonprofit organization, tweeted “Great Barrier Reef is Dying NOT Dead!

 ‘The message should be that it isn’t too late… not we should all give up.'”
It may be a relief to know that the GBR isn’t dead, but this scare should be taken as a wake up call, especially considering we are a big reason for the reef’s deteriorating health. 

Coral on the reef are dying due to a phenomenon called coral bleaching. 

Changes in condition, like warmer water temperatures, cause coral to become stressed, which causes the algae living in their tissues to leave. 

When this happens the coral turn white, hence the term coral bleaching, and the coral is left vulnerable and more susceptible to disease. 

According to a report by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, 93% of the reef is affected by bleaching.

How is this our fault? 

Two words: global warming.

 As our oceans temperatures continue to rise, more and more bleaching events are occurring and causing sections of the reef to die. 

According to a survey by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, 22% of the reef’s coral are dead. 

If we want to save one of the seven natural wonder of the world, we need to act now.

Press link for more: Propeller.LA

Midnight Oil Join Fight to #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldpol 

MIDNIGHT Oil will kick off their Australian reunion tour with a musical protest against the Adani mine and threats to the Great Barrier Reef’s survival next week.
The activist rockers will stage the Oils at the Reef concert in Cairns on October 6 to support research into the damage suffered by the treasured natural wonder.

All proceeds from Midnight Oil’s ‘Oils at the Reef’ concert will go towards scientific research aimed at protecting the reef. 

The band will direct all proceeds from the show at the Tank Arts Centre to nonpartisan scientific research organisation called Great Barrier Reef Legacy.
The Oils haven’t been quiet about drawing attention to environmental causes on their Great Circle world tour.
They performed on the famous Rainbow Warrior in Brazil in April to protest mining at the mouth of the Amazon River.

Midnight Oil will be touring Australia with their ‘The Great Circle 2017’ reunion tour. Picture: Jenny EvansSource:News Corp Australia
“Midnight Oil have always used our music to talk about things we believe are important,” Peter Garrett said.
“We believe the future of the Great Barrier Reef is clearly on the line. We’re at the eleventh hour for our most important natural asset.
“As the largest living organism in our world the reef is a treasure of extraordinary beauty itself but it’s also a symbol of greater questions we all have to answer.”

Midnight Oil frontman and politician Peter Garrett is fighting to protect the Great  Barrier Reef.
“Some parts of the reef are already being killed off by catastrophic climate change and other parts would be damaged by bad federal government policy that prioritises short term corporate profit above all else.
“So we’re looking forward to getting together with our friends in Cairns and all doing our bit to share some information, provoke more conversation and make change while there’s still time.”

The Great Circle world tour has already ticked off more than 50 concerts in 16 countries and will end with a victory lap around Australia, starting in Alice Springs on Monday and finishing at the Domain in Sydney on November 17.

Locals protest the Adani coal mine. Photographer: Liam KidstonSource:News Corp Australia
Tickets for the Oils at the Reef concert go on sale at 10am on Wednesday, with a limit of two per person.
The concert will form the backdrop for radio and television specials by Triple M and Foxtel’s MAX to spotlight the battle for the reef’s survival.
“The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most beautiful and intricate ecosystems,” drummer Rob Hirst said.

The threat to the Great Barrier Reef ‘should be a concern of all Australians’ says Midnight Oil drummer Rob Hirst.Source:Supplied
‘“It’s also a magnet for tourists, and a major contributor to the local economy so the fact that it’s under threat from climate change and unsustainable development should concern all Australians.
“We believe we should support the work of scientists and listen to them when it comes to what we should do to protect this precious environment.”

Press link for more:

Bleak world if the Great Barrier Reef dies. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

Scientist Dr Charlie Veron’s warning to Gold Coasters of a bleak world if the Great Barrier Reef dies

Dr Charlie Veron with a piece of coral named Blastomussa. Picture: Zak Simmonds
A RENOWNED scientist has painted a bleak picture of the impact on the Gold Coast if the Great Barrier Reef dies, warning of a worldwide environmental disaster that will hurt even more if rising carbon dioxide levels keep cooking the planet.
Dr Charlie Veron has urged young Gold Coasters to build multiple skills for a chaotic world, saying important fields like medicine and agriculture will be vital as carbon dioxide levels increase because of the burning of fossil fuels, particularly coal.
Even if nations stopped production of carbon dioxide, the oceans would keep heating for another 20 years, leading to a vicious pendulum ride between cyclonic storms and floods, and severe drought and bushfires.

Dead and dying staghorn coral, central Great Barrier Reef in May 2016. Credit: Johanna Leonhardt

“Half of all coral colonies on the Great Barrier Reef died over the past two years due to coral bleaching,’’ Dr Veron said.
“It’s going to be a horrible world. Young people now are going to curse the present generation for what we’ve done. We’ll have left them a planet in dire straits.’’
Known as the Godfather of Coral, Dr Veron has been hailed by the likes of high-profile British naturalist David Attenborough for his career that led to him being appointed chief scientist of the Australian Institute of Marine Science and to recognition as a wideranging specialist in corals and reefs.

Dr Charlie Veron was the first full-time researcher on the Great Barrier Reef and has described more than a quarter of the world’s coral species.

With several books to his name including his memoir, A Life Underwater, Dr Veron was a prominent speaker at the Byron Writers Festival at the weekend.
“The Australian public is asleep. They seem to be unaware of what’s going on,’’ he told the Gold Coast Bulletin outside the festival.
Rising levels of the otherwise rare gas carbon dioxide were increasing ocean temperatures, which were causing bleaching and killing coral reefs, putting the entire marine environment in peril.
“Australia is now the biggest coal exporter in the world,’’ he said.
“Australians are fuelling this as fast as they can through the mining of coal, which is the worst driver of this.’’
Dr Veron, who has been an outspoken critic of the proposed Adani coal mine in Central Queensland, feared the Great Barrier Reef could be gone within 15 years.

Dr Charlie Veron 

“If the Great Barrier Reef dies then you can be sure most coral reefs in the world would have died and the oceans will be in a state of ecological collapse. Nowhere is going to be exempt,’’ he said.
“We will see fishing industries collapse, for starters.
“Between a quarter and a third of all marine species have part of their life cycle in a coral reef. Taking away the reefs precipitates ecological collapse of the oceans. It’s happened twice in the past due to volcanoes releasing carbon dioxide and lava flows, but that was nothing like the amount of carbon dioxide being released now.’’
One of those mass extinctions, at the end of the Mesozoic era 65 million years ago, brought an end to the dinosaurs. The other was at the end of the Palaeozoic era about 200 million years ago, which wiped out corals.
“A lot of marine species here (in Gold Coast and Byron Bay waters) have come from the Great Barrier Reef,’’ Dr Veron said.
“The corals here have all come from the barrier reef as have all the tropical marine species. They come down the East Australia Current and colonise here. This applies to migratory fish species too.
“It’s all gloom and doom, I’m afraid.
“The science has been right.
“The sceptics now have no credibility. The deniers of climate change might as well deny Jumbo jets can fly. It’s no longer an issue of science or judgment. It’s happening.’’
Carbon dioxide was important in keeping the earth warm and keeping green plants going.
But concentrations had now reached 406 parts per million.
“But when you go over the limit it becomes a very dangerous gas,’’ he said. “It’s now reached that point.
“It’s doing this slowly. It’s like putting a jug of water on the stove. It takes a long time to equilibrate with the heat under it.
“The oceans are taking at least 20 years to equilibrate with current conditions. We have oceans that have warmed in response to carbon dioxide levels of the 1990s. (Even if carbon dioxide production stopped now) the oceans have got 20 years of warming ahead.’’

Press link for more: Gold Coast Bulletin