According to “The Science and Public Policy Insitute”, the future of reefs couldn’t look any better

From the organization that brought you:

  • “35 Inconvenient Truths: The errors in Al Gore’s movie”
  • “Proved -There is no climate crisis”
  • “Greenhouse Warming? What Greenhouse Warming?”

comes another ‘bona fide’ report ( “CO2, Global Warming and Coral Reefs: Prospects for the Future“)  aimed at debunking the widely respected view among the scientific community that increases in temperature and atmospheric CO2 are detrimental to the future of coral reefs. In fact this report by the Science and Public Policy Institute of Washington, argues that these ‘twin evils’ actually have positive effects on coral reefs worldwide promoting growth and calcification (link). While this non peer-reviewed report claims to be based on sound science, with close to 200 references (many of which are from leading experts in the coral reefs), it is the misinterpretation of these research articles that makes this report a sure standout among climate skeptic pieces to date.

Reading through this report may make you want to pull out a red pen and scribble all over what seems reads like a misinformed undergraduate essay. The key point claiming that there is no simple linkage between high temperatures and coral bleaching may be a far reach from the evidence that shows a hot prolonged summer with temperatures above the monthly maxima will guarantee coral bleaching.

Throughout the report, the authors use ‘snippets’ from papers to attempt to justify their hypotheses. For example, discussing  the effects of thermal acclimation in reducing bleaching severity and mechanisms for adaptation (such as Middlebrook et al [2008]) is out of context, and somewhat akin to saying you can milk a cake from a cow, without consideration of the steps in between.

The report states that ‘real-world’ observations paired with the sound science reviewed in the report ‘refute the claims of climate alarmists’ through the following findings:

“A particularly ingenious way by which almost any adaptive response to any type of environmental stress may be enhanced in the face of the occurrence of that stress would be to replace the zooxanthellae expelled by the coral host during a stress-induced bleaching episode by one or more varieties of zooxanthellae that are more tolerant of the stress that caused the bleaching”

“Rising sea levels may actually have a positive effect on reefs, permitting increased coral growth in areas that have already reached the upward limit imposed by current sea level”.

“Theoretical predictions indicate that coral calcification rates should decline as a result of increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations by as much as 40% by 2100. However, real-world observations indicate that elevated CO2 and elevated temperatures are having just the opposite effect.”

While there is hope that corals will adapt to a changing environment, the predicted rate of temperature and atmospheric CO2 change is unprecedented, higher than anything seen in the last 720,000 years during which coral reef ecosystems evolved.

These predictions, paired with the knowledge of the sensitiveness of coral reef ecosystems to change, encourage scientists to be prudent when advocating the resilience of coral reefs. Given the funding history of the institute, and their pseudoscientific interpretations of previous publications, a report like this isn’t exactly surprising. Whilst a report like this may be fodder for the likes of climate skeptics around the world, it takes on a far more serious note when it is aimed at ‘educating’ policy makers in government, whom without proper consultations with established scientists, just might take this report seriously. The irony is, this is a frightening possibility.

5 thoughts on “According to “The Science and Public Policy Insitute”, the future of reefs couldn’t look any better

  1. While I agree that the case for warming affecting coral reefs is sound, provided that IPCC projections really would occur, I find the case for CO2 affecting coral reefs rather speculative. Can you point to any particular research that would support that view?

  2. The references in this report by Craig Idso to “climate alarmists” and “the radical environmentalist movement” do little to enhance the perception of his attempt at scientific objectivity.

    His analysis and conclusions are quite a remarkable contortion of the scientific literature. He ends with “We have got to realize that rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations are not the bane of the biosphere, but a boon to the planet’s many life forms.”

    The analysis is similar to the work of Bjorn Lomborg, in The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It, by massaging the evidence to suit a pre-conceived conclusion and political agenda.

  3. Pingback: Climate Shifts » Uncategorized » CO2 non-science journalism is not doing the World a favour

  4. Pingback: Climate Shifts » Climate Shifts » The ‘Plimer view’ vs reality: a good lesson for climate change sceptics

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