This article first appeared in The Australian.
In this article, Dr Peter Ridd contextualises and disseminates the findings of the IPA’s research into the Great Barrier Reef, conducted as part of the IPA’s Project for Real Science Program.
The Project for Real Science is an initiative of the Institute of Public Affairs to rebuild the integrity of scientific research in Australia.
The Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO have delivered their biennial dose of depression about the climate, but their report ignores a slew of positive environmental changes.
The Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO have delivered their biennial dose of depression about the climate in their latest State of the Climate report. The climate has warmed by 1.5C and there is barely a single benefit – it is all disaster.
It is often said, “if it is too good to be true, it probably is” and you are being conned. What about too bad to be true? Can a gently warming climate have no significant benefits at all? The only marginally encouraging part of the report is about northern Australia. There might have been a slight reduction in cyclone numbers, and there has been a bit more rain in the recent decades.
Apart from that, the report reads like the Book of Exodus – one disaster after another. Only the frogs and boils are missing.
But it is significant that the period when Egyptians were building pyramids, which was hotter than today’s climate, is often called the Holocene Climatic Optimum. The word “optimum” was an indication that scientists working in the era before climate alarmism could see some advantage of a warmer climate.
A sure sign that the report tries too hard to find disaster is when it discusses coral bleaching and the Great Barrier Reef. It stresses that there have been four bleaching events in the past six years, which it implies were devastating. But for some reason the report fails to mention that this year the reef recorded its highest amount of coral since records began in 1985.
This proves that all the hype about the coral loss from bleaching was greatly exaggerated. But the report writers were obviously untroubled by the contradictory evidence. They ignored it.
And they also ignore the fact that corals grow about 15 per cent faster for every degree temperature rise, and that almost all the corals on the reef also live in much warmer water near the equator. We should expect better coral, and it should extend further south. That is not too bad, is it?
Why doesn’t the report mention that the extra CO2 in the atmosphere improves the water utilisation efficiency of dryland plants, which occupy most of Australia, and that this has caused plants to thrive? According to NASA satellites, there is a “greening” of Australia of at least 10 per cent. Overall, the world has seen the area of green leaves expand by the equivalent of twice the area of the United States in just 35 years.
In a changing climate, there will be winners and losers, and it might be that the net effect is a major problem. But if the report writers will not even mention the good bits, how can we have any confidence in its findings?
The latest report should ring alarm bells – but not just about climate. Is this an excellent tool of propaganda, or is it a scientific statement?
We should all worry about whether groupthink has taken hold of the BOM and CSIRO.
We should worry when the BOM says it has recently adjusted all the temperature records reducing the temperatures a century ago by up to a degree. Can we have any confidence they did this with a good scientific reason?
And we should worry about the BOM’s claims that the fire seasons are now much worse than in 1950. Why is all the information on huge bushfires before 1950 ignored – like the devastating 1851 Victorian bushfire and the 1939 fires? It is not like there is no data before 1950.
Did they ignore that data for a good reason? Is this similar to the US fire statistics, which are often reported by authorities as having a major increase in fire acreage burnt since the early 60s, but fail to mention that there was almost 10 times more acreage burnt in the “dust-bowl” period in the 1930s?
In the next decades, Australian governments plan to spend hundreds of billions attempting to prevent climate change. Before we do that, maybe we could spend a few million doing an audit of BOM and CSIRO reports.
Maybe we would find that adapting to a changing climate is by far the best way to proceed. We might even find that some of what we have been told is wrong.
Why will the conservative parties not commit to an audit? Who would argue against a bit of checking of the science, when the Great Barrier Reef statistics prove scientists got something badly wrong?
And the latest report is a sure sign that the BOM and CSIRO are drifting into political advocacy rather than science, observation, and objective prediction.