OKAY, despite the headline, the news that coral islands –hundreds of them in the Pacific and Indian Oceans – are growing, not shrinking as all the doomsayers have been predicting, is not a shock to those with a belief that Nature is much more powerful than puny humans.
But the headline is justified in that the news was indeed shocking on a number of counts.
The vehicle was Australia’s ABC news channel, an outlet noted for its scrupulous following of the official line on climate change (caused by burning fossil fuels) with shrinking coral reefs front-and-centre as one of the prime examples of the awfulness, nay, sinfulness, of humans – especially those in the richer western nations.
That was one surprise inviting hyperbole. Not surprising was that ABC tried hard to soften the blow to the climate puritans by giving the item a severe warning to its viewers in its headline; “Coral islands are Growing Larger, Despite Climate Change”.
That should knock the sceptics back into their naughty box.
No it will not. In fact it gives us hope that rational thinking and objective scientific observation may re-surface to challenge the increase in magical thinking that we have witnessed in the last few decades.
Now for the evidence.
It comes from aerial imagery taken over decades of hundreds of coral islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Scientists at the University of Auckland found atolls in the Marshall Islands and the Maldives archipelago have grown by as much as eight per cent in the last 60 years. Only 10 per cent have shrunk.
That growth happened at the same time as a slight increase in sea level.
Apparently, sediment from the reef was being swept up by wave action to increase the land area.
What the satellite images showed was checked on the ground. Where coral reefs were healthy, enough sediment was being produced to cause islands to grow. The conclusion? Coral islands are dynamic. Coral islands are not in terminal decline.
And more importantly perhaps, the claim that the islands are sinking and therefore have a claim against nasty rich countries that have motorcars and power stations that burn petroleum products, is simply propaganda.
As the study clearly states: “The majority of islands in each of those nations has either got larger or stayed very similar in size”.
And there is one particular atoll that blows the biggest hole in the climate change narrative. It is the Ailinglaplap Atoll. It is on the equator, the hottest part of the planet, yet it too is growing and its corals are doing fine and contributing to the process.
So how it is that climate change is not affecting it adversely but is doing terrible damage to the Great Barrier Reef, at about the same latitude?
The answer must not draw the obvious conclusion. One Australian Scientist last year lost his job at his university because he did.
Maybe this latest proof that we don’t know what is happening with the climate, and why, will help him get his job back – if he still wants it.