Recently the AFR published an interview with CSIRO’s chief,
Dr Larry Marshall (“US and Asian growth planned as CSIRO
‘moonshots’ take shape”). In it Marshall’s comments about
Great Barrier Reef are not just extremely misleading;
they are simply wrong.
First, Marshall claims that poor water quality was the main
reason for the recent devastating and
unprecedented bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017. However, authoritative scientific evidence shows that the
primary cause was very high surface water temperatures as
a result of
intensifying climate change. Such temperatures
could occur every two years by the mid-2030s if climate
change continues unabated.
Marshall’s comments seem to be aligned to a Federal
Government plan to focus on water quality measures.
Addressing water quality is just a
bandaid solution that is
only useful if we also tackle
climate change, the root cause
of coral bleaching. Yet Australia’s greenhouse gas pollution
levels continue to rise (by 0.8% the past year)
without credible federal climate policy in place.
Marshall claims that reefs will recover in two years.
This is simply wrong. After a bleaching event, the fastest growing
corals can take a decade to regrow.
The world’s best coral reef scientists are telling us that
climate change is the biggest threat to the reef. It is
disturbing that the CEO of CSIRO has apparently not
relied on the scientists within his own organisation, who
understand the science behind coral bleaching.