Government research paper scuppers Julie Bishop's Reef attack on Obama

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An Australian Government publication shows that senior Abbott Government Ministers Julie Bishop and Andrew Robb are totally wrong in criticising U.S. President Barack Obama for his Great Barrier Reef warning.

The Australian Government research paper found that 'reducing the amount of climate change is the single most effective way of minimising negative impacts' on the Great Barrier Reef.

The paper, published in 2007, says:

'Even under the most optimistic climate change scenarios, the GBR is destined for significant change over this century; under pessimistic scenarios, catastrophic impacts are possible.'


'This vulnerability assessment confirms that increasing sea temperature is the single biggest risk factor for the GBR over the short to mid-term (years to decades) .... Sea temperature increases are the major cause of the predicted decline in coral communities over the current century, with flow-on effects through the entire ecosystem.'

But Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, along with Trade Minister Andrew Robb criticised President Obama for his speech at Queensland University before the G20 meeting when he said:

"Nobody has more at stake when it comes to thinking about and acting on climate change…the incredible natural glory of the Great Barrier Reef is threatened."

Ms Bishop was quoted by Fairfax media as saying of the reef:

"It's not under threat from climate change because its biggest threat is nutrient runoffs from agricultural land [and] the second biggest threat is natural disasters, but this has been for 200 years."

She was quoted in The Guardian as saying:

'Of course the Great Barrier Reef will be preserved for generations to come. We don’t believe it is in danger.' 

On Sky News Mr Robb said of the Obama speech:

“'It was misinformed, but it was also unnecessary."

Ms Bishop and Mr Robb should read the Government’s own report titled:

'Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef: A Vulnerability Assessment, edited by Johanna E Johnson and Paul A Marshall .... Published by: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville, Australia and the Australian Greenhouse Office, in the Department of the Environment and Water Resources.'

It features the Australian coat of arms twice and states:

'Copyright: © Commonwealth of Australia 2007.'

Click on the image above to see the report in full.

The publication makes it clear that climate change is the major threat to the reef.

And it says:

'The potential for climate change to severely affect corals has already been demonstrated through the two severe mass bleaching events that occurred on the GBR in 1998 and 2002. Loss of corals will have catastrophic consequences for reef structure …. In addition, the potential loss of reef-building corals has implications for the physical structure of the GBR, with serious and lasting impacts for other habitats, as well as for the people and industries that depend on them.'

It goes on:

'Mitigating the rate and extent of climate change is repeatedly identified throughout this vulnerability assessment as a priority issue that must be addressed if the GBR is to cope with climate change. There is no component of the GBR ecosystem that is not sensitive to the effects of climate change…. Climate change is driving shifts in environmental conditions that are already beginning to exceed the narrow tolerances of many GBR species and affect key processes.'

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