Here is the video from the Climate Council, with Tim Flannery, Amanda McKenzie and Dean Miller on the disastrous bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef.
Graham Readfearn has written about how Ben Webster at the anti-environment newspaper, The Australian, tried to downplay the disaster.
How can people like that live with themselves? Their only reward is getting promoted on climate conspiracy blogs like WUWT (archived here), where deniers can't wait for the reef's total destruction. (There was even a recent WUWT article by Jim Steele who as usual misreported science to argue that coral bleaching is a good thing! He can't wait for the sixth major extinction.)
The most serious bleaching event on record
According to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA):
AIMS Chief Executive John Gunn said there was no doubt this was the most serious bleaching event to hit the Reef on record, and that it was related to a combination of warming of our planet’s oceans and a major El Niño.It's reported that 25% of the coral has not just been damaged, it has died. If 25% doesn't sound a lot, how about one quarter? And that one quarter isn't evenly spread. The GBRMPA put some numbers on the damage:
Based on the results of in-water surveys to date, the average coral loss within each management area is:Those numbers aren't just bleaching. They are mortality numbers. Dead coral! The GBRMPA article has more:
- 50 per cent in the Far Northern Management Area (from the tip of Cape York to just north of Lizard Island)
- 16 per cent in the Cairns–Cooktown Management Area (Lizard Island to Tully). (Note: Surveys around Lizard Island were conducted in March. More recent reports indicate mortality levels are likely to be higher in this management area.)
- 3 per cent in the Townsville–Whitsunday Management Area (Tully to Mackay)
- 0 per cent in the Mackay–Capricorn Management Area (Mackay to Bundaberg).
...based on our combined results so far, the overall mortality is 22 per cent — and about 85 per cent of that die-off has occurred in the far north between the tip of Cape York and just north of Lizard Island, 250 kilometres north of Cairns.
The authority is hopeful that the less damaged areas down south will recover quickly. It won't be known for some time how the northern areas will fare. If bleaching events happen more frequently (as has been happening) then we're probably going to lose a lot of the reef over coming decades, because there won't be enough time for it to recover.
Here is a map so you can see where the impact is worst. Port Douglas, a favourite holiday destination for viewing the reef, is down the bottom of the red zone, about an hour north of Cairns.
|Map showing the different zones of the Great Barrier Reef. Source: GBRMPA|
Australia's reefs aren't the only ones at risk. Below are two maps from NOAA's coral reef watch program - the weekly alert. The first is the reefs at 90% threat level, and the second at 60% risk of bleaching: