It is very flattering that Andrew Bolt takes a special interest in my scientific research. In his latest posting, his whipped his fan club into a frenzy over some graphics from my 1999 paper. I gave a copy of this paper to him when I met him last year hoping that he would understand it.
But, surprise surprise, my good friend Andrew Bolt has stuffed up again. I guess he stuffs up when it comes to political predictions, his understanding of complex issues like the stolen generation, as well as his ability to understand science. Whilst I don’t hold the above against him (pedalling disinformation seems to be quite profitable for him!), but I do think we need to clarify the details:
Andrew has made a meal out of the fact that we have not seen bleaching every second year, as might be predicted from this figure. The predictions were made by taking the known thresholds to coral bleaching (which are hard and fast, and are the basis for very successful satellite tools that can predict coral bleaching) and combining it with the best climate modelling available at the time. The net conclusion is that mass coral bleaching will increase over the next few decades until it becomes a yearly event (well, as long as coral lasts!). This is a logical conclusion of the two data sets.
The details of exactly when and where this occurs, is associated by a huge amount of variability which is otherwise known as the weather. In response to him on his Blog, I wrote to him (I don’t think he is going to post it because it runs counter to the opinions of his sycophantic fan club!):
“At this point in the research, we know that coral bleaching will occur at a particular temperature within a particular region. We also have the predictions of how the sea temperature will change, and hence the only at this point is that, round about 2015 or so (give or take 5-10 years), we will start to see the risk of coral bleaching increase until every second year as a bleaching event and so on.
I suspect because of the variability that an unambiguous resolution of this will not occur until you and I are celebrating our 61st birthdays on September 26, 2020. I personally do not look forward to that day because all of the evidence suggests that the scientific community is correct in this assessment and conclusion. At that point, we will be mourning the significant features of the Great Barrier Reef.”