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Deceptive airs hover over reef
letter published in The Australian Financial Review, 12 August 2009

It would be interesting to know how the Great Barrier Reef Foundation's friendly consultancy has valued the reef at $71 billion for  chairman John Schubert ("CBA chair warns of reef tourist fall-off",   August 10).  

Who, apart perhaps from the Chinese, might be the potential buyer?   

Of course the reef is an important tourist attraction and a major deterioration in its state would have adverse effects on the incomes of those in that industry. Any such deterioration would also be a serious environmental loss to Australians generally.  

It is, however, stretching things more than a bit to suggest that the reef is under threat from bleaching caused by global warming. Leaving aside the absence of any such warming over the last decade, there is evidence that the reef has recovered well from bleachings that have occurred in the past and that were not necessarily due to "high" global temperatures at the time.  

Bleaching has certainly been caused by factors other than higher global temperatures viz, the influx of river runoff and the temporary lowering of sea level (by up to 35 cm in the case of major El Nino events that have nothing to do with global warming) that warms the shallow waters of the reef and prevents flushing with cooler water from the surrounding deeper seas.   

True, the reef does reduce the damage risk to coastal communities from storms and cyclones. But that would continue even if the whole of the reef bleaches.  

As an entrepreneur, Schubert might note that the apparent capacity of the reef to recover from bleaching is a good selling point for his foundation.   

It is surprising, however, that as a serious business man he has not detected the deception in the science being used to scare communities into believing  that emissions of carbon dioxide cause temperatures to rise. 

Des Moore 
Director, Institute for Private Enterprise 
South Yarra Vic

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