Everybody with a functioning brain knows that the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is in trouble, with scientific papers demonstrating that coral bleaching due to global warming is an existential threat to it. The senior author on these papers is Professor Terry Hughes, the director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies, and these were published in perhaps the top two peer-reviewed science journals on the planet, Natureand Science1,2,3.
If the GBR declines dramatically, especially in the north where the damage is already very severe, it will badly affect the huge tourism industry which delivers a concomitantly huge injection of $6.4 billion into the economy, and employs some 64,000 people. Currently, tour operators can find places where bleaching is non-existent or very limited, to give their clients what they expect4. Given the likelihood that the bleaching will get worse, it is staggering that Col McKenzie, Executive Director of the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators (AMPTO), a group that represents more than 100 businesses on the Great Barrier Reef, called Terry Hughes, “a dick” which, as Crispin Hull stated, is an indication of the sophistication of his argument. McKenzie also wrote to the government, asking it to stop funding the work of Hughes because the science was “harming the tourism industry”4,5. This is an archetypal instance of ‘shooting the messenger’. Instead of calling people names, the idiotic McKenzie should be agitating, for all he is worth, for something to be done about climate change, not just in Australia, but around the world.
McKenzie seems to have had a change of heart since 2007 when he set up a new political party in November 2006, the Save our Great Barrier Reef Party, because of the Howard Government’s inaction on global warming6. Given this, one would expect there to be a position statement about global warming on the AMPTO website. Indeed, there is not even a mention of the word ‘climate’ among the position statements7. I wonder why that would be. In addition, in 2016, McKenzie stated that a planned rally in support of action on global warming, was all part of an “anti-coal agenda”8. That seems like a rather dramatic volte-face in opinion. I wonder what could have caused that.
In addition to McKenzie’s stupidity, Warren Entsch, the federal member for Leichhardt, also seems less than impressed with Hughes’ work, stating that: “He’ll be having an absolute ball”9as if Hughes would be enjoying watching the demise of the reef. I wonder why Entsch thinks Hughes puts himself in the firing line, leaving himself open to opprobrium by halfwits like McKenzie and Entsch; could it be that Hughes wants people to take the possible demise of the reef seriously? That is probably because nobody in the federal government seems to be.
- Hughes, T.P., Kerry, J.T. et al., 2017. Global warming and recurrent mass bleaching of corals. Nature 543, 373-377. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0041-2
- Hughes, T.P., Anderson, K.D. et al. 2018. Spatial and temporal patterns of mass bleaching of corals in the Anthropocene. Science 359, 80-83. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6371/80