INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF THE REEF

 

and How To “Save the Planet”

By Bob Halstead

You may not have noticed but 2008 was the “Year of the Reef”. We have so many Days, Weeks and Years of the Whatever these days that is hard to keep track, but I would like you to know that in far North Queensland we did our bit for the reef.

The ICRI International Year of the Reef 2008 was a worldwide campaign to raise awareness about the value and importance of coral reefs and threats to their sustainability, and to motivate people to take action to protect them.

To do my bit in Cairns I worked with violinist Leigh Paine and Pianist/composer Ross Carey to produce a concert titled “Reef Reverie” featuring classical music and poetry related to marine themes, and the specially commissioned “Beneath the Sea” based on my marine images.

For this feature I selected 217 images that I arranged in a sequence that told a story even without narration. These were scanned and made into a Keynote computer presentation complete with appropriate transitions with manual, not timed, progression. This went to Ross who wrote an original ~30 minute modern composition with three parts – Piano, Violin and Computer. We performed the piece live at the Hilton Hotel on 26th July with myself reading the music and keying in the appropriate image as indicated on the score.

Considering that Ross’s music was quite wild and included improvised passages and complex changing time signatures and tempos, I found this a challenge. On the night we used a large screen and professional projector and it all went without a hitch to audience acclaim. I am looking forward to performing it again. The message was a celebration of the wonders and beauty of the reef and its critters, not one of doom and gloom.

Up in Port Douglas, Louise Bernstein, owner of Undersea Explorer Adventure Diving, did a magnificent job of putting together a two-day festival celebrating IYOR 2008.

On Friday 24th October there were special children’s educational events, a Children’s Underwater Film Festival, and an evening showing winners from the 2007 Antibes World Underwater Film Festival brought to Queensland by Christian Botella and introduced by yours truly.

On Saturday there was a big cleanup along Four Mile Beach, a sausage sizzle and then various presentations before the two evening events, the first of which was a “Climate Change” forum with keynote speakers John Connor from the Climate Institute, reef scientist Tony Ayling and Jos Hill from Reef Check Australia.

I was in the audience – but more on that in a minute.

The outstanding event later in the evening was the World Premier of Ross Isaac’s wonderful film “From Fire To Ice” that follows the annual migration of Humpback whales from Hawaii to the Arctic. There were some really remarkable sequences that he spent 6 years putting together and we all ended up wondering how anyone could possibly kill these magnificent creatures. Someone was heard to remark (I think it was me) “Save the Whales! Eat the Japanese!”

Cannibalism, by solving not only over-population but also the food shortages caused by planting fuel crops instead of edible ones, is the answer to many of the World’s problems, and really only a question of reviving some of the Pacific Island’s traditions so unfairly curtailed by the Christian Missionaries.

Education is the key! As I have remarked before, all we need to do is follow the Japanese example. They hand out whale meat sandwiches to schoolchildren to get them to like whale meat – we could do the same, except, of course, it would not be whale meat.

Well, that was completely wacky, but I hope it got your attention because here is the argument: If “saving the planet” is deemed “the most important thing” then it is only a short step to argue that ANY means be used to accomplish this aim. Including immoral means. Such as those used by the Greenie disciples of the IPCC and Al Gore with their misinformation and exaggerations about climate change. What they really want is social revolution and I think, with so many gullible people on Earth, it is quite possible they will get it. But this will not “save the planet”.

What a stupid phrase. It is not what they mean. They mean keep the Earth as it is now, or perhaps as it was in 1850. Or perhaps they mean “Save Me, and my equally Virtuous Friends, but not the third world”?

Whatever, to save humanity, we need to do the RIGHT thing. Carbon trading will not achieve anything except poverty, and will delay the discovery of scientific and technical solutions to our survival.

Now back to the “Climate Change” forum. John Connor spouted the politically (but in no other way) correct – Al Gore / IPCC version of the evils of CO2 and showed a dramatic banner triptych of coral reef photographs meant to represent the state of coral reefs before, during and after CO2 has reached levels necessary to “acidify” the oceans. I objected to the final dead reef photo since it was not a photo of a reef that had been killed by acidification – which, to my knowledge, has not happened to any reef anywhere in the world. Dr. Tony Ayling, who actually goes out and dives reefs so knows what he is talking about, also took exception to the photo.

Professor Ian Plimer, one of Australia’s finest and author of the remarkable Eureka Prize winning “A Short History of Planet Earth”, does not agree that ocean acidification can or will occur. He states that there is “Not enough CO2 in fossil fuels to make Oceans acidic”. He should know. He is a Geologist and not, for example, a Palaeontologist such as the well known failed prophet Dr. Tim Flannery. Ian Plimer also notes that increases of CO2 are NOT correlated to rises in world temperature. He asks:

1. Why was CO2 15 times higher than now in the Ordovician-Silurian glaciation?
2. Why were both methane and CO2 higher than now in the Permian glaciation?
3. Why was CO2 5 times higher than now in the Cretaceous-Jurassic glaciation?

Good questions. Pity he was not at the forum.

I was, and pointed out from the audience that most of the material presented as facts and evidence was, actually, either speculation or (model) predictions. My opinion, that acidification might not be the problem that alarmists state it will be, comes from observing the volcanic fumaroles at Dobu Island in PNG where virtually pure CO2 bubbles to the surface on a shallow reef. There is a vibrant sea grass bed, rather richer than normal but what might be expected of an area of increased plant “food” – CO2, also barren areas where the sea bed and vents are too hot for anything much to survive. There is also, with CO2 bubbles rising through it, a spectacularly rich and live coral reef.

The panel discussion led to the recognition that coral reefs are amazingly resilient and that in recent times there is plenty of evidence of regrowth of reefs. This was pleasing and corresponded with my own observations that the reefs out of Cairns and Port Douglas are getting much better, not worse.

But this is the whole problem with the Al Gore dogma. No doubt that CO2 levels in the atmosphere are still rising – but the planet is NOT getting warmer, nor is the sea level rising significantly and nor is the Polar Ice cap melting. Every prediction of the Greenie fanatics is failing. What scientists usually do when this happens to a hypothesis is throw it out and look for something else to explain the observed phenomena, but not the fanatics. They are locked into Carbon, and insist that we must act now.

As a cynic, I suppose this to be because, in a few years time, it will be obvious even to Blind Freddy that “Global Warming” is not what it used to be. Here is a fact you may not have heard about. The “Oregon Petition” (Google it) contains the signatures of over 32,000 scientists, including 9,000 PhD’s, who dispute that man made CO2 is contributing to Global Warming, and are opposed to the Kyoto agreement. Rather puts paid to the assertion of a scientific consensus for Global Warming due to CO2 doesn’t it?

One very sincere lady in the audience called for leadership, and that she wanted Australia to lead the world. Yes indeed! Me too! Perhaps we can stop following the United Nations and Al Gore and tell the world that CO2 is not the evil it is made out to be. Let’s be the first country to pull OUT of Kyoto.

Another was concerned about “Cyanide bombs” in Indonesia and how these were destroying reefs. This was widened to include all unsustainable fishing methods and how important it is to educate village fishermen and at the same time hand them condoms to slow the population pressures on the reefs. Great, let’s give out condoms (AND encourage cannibalism).

An audience member vigorously pointed out that the Earth’s climate had always been changing and that whatever we did, WE could not change that. And how right he is. Climate change “education” here promotes changing light bulbs, turning lights off for an hour for Earth Day, accelerating slowly from traffic lights, and ……

The well-meaning people that suggest these ideas have their hearts in the right place, but their brains have gone walkabout. It might sound good if we all do our bit to reduce our carbon footprint but, unfortunately, it will have no effect at all on climate. We are all concerned to be virtuous and not wasteful or greedy with our limited resources. Yes, me too, but I know bullshit when I hear it.

Alas, even if we closed Australia down completely for many years – no power, no transport, no Parliament (that is huge!) – it still would not make an iota of difference to the world climate, even if CO2 was the principal driver of climate change – which it is not.

I must admit I was getting rather frustrated sitting in the audience with limited opportunity to contribute alternate views, and I had plenty to offer. I do not think I did very well, but I made an effort.

One point I did perhaps manage to get over was the fact that the Arctic Polar Ice cap is growing rather than shrinking. Now this is not my “opinion” it is satellite evidence obtained from this site.

http://igloo.atmos.uiuc.edu/cgi-bin/test/print.sh?fm=11&fd=01&fy=2007&sm=11&sd=01&sy=2008

The same site shows that yes, in summer of 2007, the Arctic ice cap was the smallest it had been since satellite records began in 1979. But now it shows the ice cap IS GROWING. Check it for yourself, once you get the site up you can compare ice cover for most days since then. The picture I chose shows ice on 1st Nov 2007 and compares it with ice on 1st Nov 2008. No wonder the Greenie fanatics do not want anyone to look further at the science. The science shows that their predictions are not working!

Scientists who pointed this out were initially called Sceptics, but for a scientist to be called a “Sceptic” is a compliment – scientists are meant to be sceptical. So that has now changed to “Deniers” to associate us with the evil deniers of the Holocaust. The Spanish Inquisition called non-believers “Heretics” and I see a lot in common with the Inquisition and today’s Greenie activists of the IPCC / Al Gore brigade. They are more concerned with belief, and fundamental fanaticism, than with rational thought and behaviour. They wish “Deniers” to be silenced, as was Galileo by the Inquisition.

Back to Port Douglas, and congratulations to Louise Bernstein, ably assisted by Qamar Schuyler, for the Port Douglas IYOR Festival! It was entertaining, stimulating, breathtaking in parts, and definitely educational and constructive with alternate viewpoints encouraged.

Dear readers, the Great Barrier Reef is not in decline – it is demonstrating its resilience by regrowing in a spectacular manner. In November 2008 I had a wonderful cruise, on Mike Ball’s Spoilsport, diving from Cairns to Osprey reef, and back. Reefs were uniformly GROWING – and not only Acropora species, I spotted young Brain corals and many other slower growing species.

If you do not believe me you should go and have a look for yourselves. Just maybe there is another reason for climate change (try the Sun) and the exaggerated alarmism of the Greenie fanatics, and the Rudd Government, is a fraud.

Should we therefore do nothing? No, but we need to do the RIGHT things, not anything. The trillion dollars being spent worldwide on setting up carbon trading schemes (by the way, the European price of CO2 plummeted along with share prices in 2008) would be much better spent elsewhere. Here are some of my suggestions. They will not stop climate change, but they will make the Earth a better place for people and their pets (did I mention pets before? No? Another time perhaps).

Stop careless pollution of our oceans by enforcing strict standards for all dumping and run-off. Build waste water/effluent treatment and recycling plants both here and in third world countries. While I was diving a beautiful Ribbon Reef a raft of plastic pollution floated past – I collected some, it was labelled “Made in Solomon Islands”.

Spend billions on enforcing only sustainable fishing. Stop all long lining and shark fishing. Get tough.

Tax the hell out of SUVs that never see mud. Provide free auto registrations for sexy red sports cars like my 300ZX. (I deserve something for writing all this, and saving humanity)

Get rid of wind farms and build nuclear reactors. When all our beauty spots are visually, and sonically, polluted by wind farms, life will not be worth living. Wind generators are so inefficient they need a lot of space, for example ALL the countryside in Europe, yet “Environmentalists” support wind farms. Huh? And, to counter one of the more pathetic arguments Greenies use, yes I would rather live next to a nuclear power plant than a wind farm! It shames me to say the French have got it right – 83% of their power is produced from Nuclear Energy. We will need this nuclear energy to discover the next generation of power sources.

Invest billions in other renewable energy technology research. This not only means inventing new ways of generating power but inventing new ways of doing things using less energy. It does not mean living in a non-existent romantic nirvana close to nature eating carrots and potatoes while shivering to keep warm.

To achieve anything we need lots of (cheap) energy to keep those scientists (and the waste treatment plants) working late at night!

We need a new crime defined, with torture and long jail terms as penalties, for those that manipulate, distort and deliberately misreport science, and corrupt the administration of science by biased awarding of jobs and grants, for political or religious reasons such as the environmental fundamentalism of the Greenies.

Let us prepare for climate change. The climate has changed, and will continue to change. Be adaptable and beware! Global Cooling is possibly more likely than Warming. Expect droughts, floods and storms to continue unpredictably. Make sure houses are built to the appropriate standards – Brisbane has storms that rival Cyclones but builds houses whose roofs come flying off at the first puff of wind.

Queenslanders used to have the right idea by building their homes on stilts so that they would be ventilated in the hot climate AND not be flooded in the wet. Now they build homes on the ground and cry disaster when they flood. No sympathy from me, it seems they forgot.

And stop Al Gore and his disciples from committing child abuse in the classroom. Teach children that the world is a glorious place to live in, encourage enquiring sceptical minds to flourish, and stop the guilt, propaganda and doom and gloom. We need ideas not indoctrination. Real Science needs to be honoured and respected. Flood schools with money for science education. Pay Science and Math teachers twice the standard wage, and make sure they are well qualified and understand the scientific method.

If the members of the next generation are to survive and thrive, it will be because of what they, as young scientists and technicians, discover and invent. The Planet Earth will go on whatever for a few billion years with or without us, no need to save it. Only pure conceit leads us to believe we are the end point of evolution, rather we are another blunder on the way to eventual oblivion.

In the meantime, I am going diving.

January 2009

 

 Posted by at 3:33 pm