Barrier Reef Scares


By John Happs

Already, millions of taxpayer dollars have been poured into “saving the Great Barrier Reef” scams schemes. On top of the $440 million the Turnbull government poured in to save the reef that doesn’t need saving, the Morrison government has promised $1 billion and not to be left out, Anthony Albanese if elected, would pour in $220 million.

Dr. Terry Hughes is the director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University which, according to its website (2017), has a funding budget of $28,000,000 over 7 years. Little wonder that the centre wants to keep the “Great Barrier Reef is Dying” nonsense alive and the research funding flowing.

So-called academic research in the environmental areas is now all about bidding for government funding, and the more alarmist the proposal and the more urgent the need to stop an imaginary threat, the better the prospect for the funding to be approved. As Dr. Walter Starck noted:

For researchers it soon yielded a mother lode of funding, recognition and personal importance. Any third-rate academic could jump on the bandwagon by suggesting almost any fluctuation in nature was evidence of climate change.”

The reality is that the Great Barrier Reef isn’t in the slightest danger. It has experienced bleaching before and will experience it again and again. But this is not unusual and Hughes et al. should be looking at the impact of El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events on bleaching and also ponder the many examples of “endangered” or “destroyed” reef systems that have miraculously recovered but have not been reported by the reef alarmists or the media.

It is almost laughable to even suggest that the Great Barrier Reef is in danger and in need of millions of dollars to save it since corals have been around for more than 400 million years, having survived several global mass extinctions from asteroid impacts, super-volcano eruptions, global glaciation and nuclear bomb explosions.

In 1998, a heatwave resulted in many corals around the world experiencing bleaching and, not surprisingly, the media pronounced them all dead. Curiously, in 2014, Dr. Peter Mumby from the Marine Spatial Ecology Lab at the University of Queensland, dived on the Rangiroa lagoon, in French Polynesia, where bleaching had been widespread. He reported an astonishing recovery of the coral reef:

Our projections were completely wrong. Sometimes it is really nice to be proven wrong as a scientist, and this was a perfect example of that.”

The same 1998 heatwave also bleached corals on the reefs of Palau in the Western Pacific Ocean yet, by 2005, the reefs had made a full recovery and the Scott Reef in the Kimberly region of Australia also made a strong recovery from the 1998 heatwave.

Dr. James Gilmour, a coral ecologist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Western Australia said:

We are learning rapidly about coral reefs that there is a lot that we didn’t know.”

Perhaps a few more million dollars would help?

In 1992, Dr. David Krupp, a coral research scientist based in Hawaii coined the term “The Phoenix Effect” to describe how corals can spring back to life from an almost imperceptible fragment of themselves and no better example of coral resilience can be found than the return to pristine coral growth at the Pacific atoll of Bikini. The Bravo Crater left in 1954 was created by the most powerful US atomic bomb ever exploded and the reef was all but obliterated.

After recently diving into the Bravo crater, Dr. Zoe Richards from the Australian Museum said:

“I didn’t know what to expect – some kind of moonscape perhaps. But it was incredible, huge matrices of branching Porites coral (up to 8 metres high) had established, creating thriving coral reef habitat. Throughout other parts of the lagoon it was awesome to see coral cover as high as 80 per cent and large tree-like branching coral formations with trunks 30cm thick. It was fascinating – I’ve never seen corals growing like trees outside of the Marshall Islands.”

In 2014, coral bleaching took place in the Mariana Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Hawaiian Islands and the Florida Keys but recovery took place relatively quickly, demonstrating how reefs will recover even from the most severe bleaching events. Marine biologist Dr. John Pandolfi from the University of Queensland observed:

“Many reef corals just might be capable of adapting fast enough to survive current rates of global environmental change.”

Dr. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg is another Great Barrier Reef alarmist. In 1999 he warned that the Great Barrier Reef was threatened by (imaginary) global warming and that much of it had already been bleached and then (surprise, surprise) he announced that the reef had made a surprising recovery.

In 2006 Hoegh-Guldberg warned that high temperatures meant that “between 30 and 40 per cent of coral on Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef could die within a month.”

Hoegh-Guldberg later admitted that the bleaching had “a minimal impact.”

Undeterred, in 2007 Hoegh-Guldberg warned again that (imaginary) global warming was bleaching the reef whilst the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network reported no significant damage and experienced diver Ben Cropp said he had seen little bleaching.

Dr. Walter Starck is one of Australia’s most experienced marine biologists. As an expert on coral reefs he said of those reef alarmists:

They have built careers, lined pockets and plundered the public purse on the strength of prophecies that have failed conspicuously to match real world trends. Worse, they have suborned and debased science. It’s time those who insist consensus trumps evidence were made to answer for their damage.”

Dishonesty is rife in science as competition for research funding becomes more heated. The public should demand more critical analysis of research proposals and more rigorous testing of research findings. Too much taxpayer money has already been wasted on research based on alarmism and more than 50 years of failed climate-related predictions.

Dr John Happs M.Sc.1st Class; D.Phil.

John has an academic background in the geosciences with special interests in climate, and paleoclimate. He has been a science educator at several universities in Australia and overseas and was President of the Western Australian Skeptics for 25 years. He has published two books: Climate Change: A Politicised Storm in a Teacup and Climate Change: How Politics and Self-Interests Have Debased Science.

These books can be ordered at:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *