As ironclad evidence for the falsity of predictions regarding catastrophic anthropogenic global warming continues to evade the notice of the dedicated climate science community, the efforts of alarmists to shore up their industry turn naturally to scaremongering – drumming up frightening scenarios that might happen if we are so foolish as to continue on our fossil-fuelled ways.
Polar bears are now passe, possibly because the overwhelming observational evidence is that their population is not in decline at all (but it might be at some point in the future if if we don’t act now!). So it’s the Great Barrier Reef that has emerged as the latest iconic victim. Just like polar bears, most people will never see it, — and those that do, unlike a close encounter with ursus maritimus, will not risk being torn limb from limb after getting up close and personal.
We’re used to hearing about the reef’s imminent demise almost on a daily basis, but one recent Guardian article pushes the boundary of rigorous argument to breaking point. Professor Hugh Possingham, of the University of Queensland, billed as an expert on “conservation modelling”, tells us that it is now too late to save the entire reef. Therefore, we must determine what bits we can save and concentrate on them. The Guardian tells us:
He conceded it could be “suicide” for politicians to talk of abandoning some parts of the reef over others.
“In politics, there’s a lot of: ‘We can do everything’,” he said.
But a “difficult discussion” was needed with time running out for more research, limits on funding, and the real chance of a “Sophie’s choice” looming for the reef, Possingham said.
Notice the subtlety. The good professor is not actually telling us the sky is falling; he is holding out a flicker of hope. The inference is that we will cry ‘No, some of the reef is not enough. We must save it all. We must act now…” followed by, “We demand more funding for research.”
Walter Starck: The Reef’s Self-Serving Saviours
He tells us that ‘climate change’ is the reef’s greatest threat. If that is so, then presumably it threatens the whole reef. How does one quarantine certain parts of the reef and concentrate only on them? What local action could be taken to offset the effects of a global phenomenon? Do we build controlled atmosphere domes over them? Do we install barriers around them?
Here’s the real gem:
The analysis applied to carbon emissions, which drive climate change, the reef’s main threat, shows Australia sacrificing less than most other countries to go carbon neutral, Possingham said.
That put the onus on Australia to act, even though the reef’s fate through climate change will be “not entirely, but largely driven by the activities of other countries”.
Australia could go carbon neutral by 2030 “with far less pain than most people think and the average Australian would barely notice the difference”, Possingham said.
“My view is Australia is a filthy, filthy, filthy rich country … if we can’t make a small sacrifice, I don’t see why people in Bulgaria, Brazil, or Columbia – people who enjoy a far lower standard of living than we do – should do it,” he said.
Richard di Natale and his Greens minions will be delighted to hear that we’re triply filthy rich and can not only spend a lot more on inefficient no-carbon energy sources but are morally obliged to do so. Let me see if I understand the logic. If we make a small sacrifice in order to save the Barrier Reef, then “Bulgaria, Brazil, Columbia” and all the other developing nations will be stung into action to make very big sacrifices to achieve the same end. For them, Australia’ sacrifices to save the Great Barrier Reef will be the tipping point that turns those nations from apathy. Our example will inspire their efforts to combat all the other catastrophes that purportedly await us, even at the cost of pobliging their populations to accept energy poverty and perpetual Third World living standards.
Unfortunately the dodgy logic isn’t the only thing wrong with this proposition. Firstly, the sacrifice we’ve already committed to make, via Paris, is not small – it’s huge. Billions of dollars, in fact. And we’re not really drowning in filthy lucre, so we can’t regard such sums as small change. And secondly, we’re not actually asking the developing countries to make any sacrifice at all. We’re proposing, or rather they are, to make them the recipients of vast amounts of wealth transfer in order to allow them, in the name of climate justice, to emit as much CO2 as we do.
Possingham also concedes that the only threat to the reef that we can directly influence is agricultural run-off. I would have thought that actions are already in train to address this, especially as it affects those areas of the reef closest to land. So why is he postulating abandoning the entire reef — the GBR equivalent, if you will, of World War II’s infamous Brisbane Line?
It is worrying that academics peddle this rubbish, that editors are prepared to publish it, and that well-meaning people are eager to believe it. What’s infinitely more worrying is that Possingham, a ‘world leading expert’, actually believes it himself. What does that say about the academy, other than the most obvious: more research dollars soonest or catastrophe is inevitable.