It takes a very special person to label the photographed, documented, filmed and studied phenomenon of mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef“fake news”. You need lashings of chutzpah, blinkers the size of Donald Trump’s hairspray bill and more hubris than you can shake a branch of dead coral at.
It also helps if you can hide inside the bubble of the hyper-partisan Breitbart media outlet, whose former boss is the US president’s chief strategist.
So our special person is the British journalist James Delingpole who, when he’s not denying the impacts of coral bleaching, is denying the science of human-caused climate change, which he says is “the biggest scam in the history of the world”.
Delingpole was offended this week by an editorial in the Washington Post that read: “Humans are killing the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, and there’s nothing Australians on their own can do about it. We are all responsible.”
Like the thriving polar bear, like the recovering ice caps, like the doing-just-fine Pacific islands, the Great Barrier Reef has become a totem for the liberal-left not because it’s in any kind of danger but because it’s big and famous and photogenic and lots and lots of people would be really sad if it disappeared. But it’s not going to disappear. That’s just a #fakenews lie designed to promote the climate alarmist agenda.
Now before we go on, let’s deal with some language here.
When we talk about the reef dying, what we are talking about are the corals that form the reef’s structure – the things that when in a good state of health can be splendorous enough to support about 69,000 jobs in Queensland and add about $6bn to Australia’s economy every year.
The Great Barrier Reef has suffered mass coral bleaching three times – in 1998, 2002 and 2016 – with a fourth episode now unfolding. The cause is increasing ocean temperatures.
“Is the Great Barrier Reef dying due to climate change caused by man’s selfishness and greed?” asks Delingpole, before giving a long list of people and groups who he thinks will answer yes, including “the Guardian” and “any marine biologist”.
“Have they been out there personally – as I have – to check. No of course not,” says Delingpole.
Yes. James Delingpole has been out there “personally” to check, but all those other people haven’t. He doesn’t say when he went but he has written about one trip before. It was back in late April 2012. Everything was fine, he said, based on that one visit. I can’t find any times when he has mentioned another trip since.
So here’s the rhetorical question – one that I can barely believe I’m asking, even rhetorically.
Why should there not be equivalence between Delingpole’s single trip to the reef (apparently taken 10 years after a previous severe case of bleaching and four years before the one that followed) at one spot on a reef system that spans the size of Italy [takes breath] and the observations of scientists from multiple institutions diving at 150 different locations to verify observations taken by even more scientists in low-flying aircraft traversing the entire length of the reef?
I mean, come on? Why can those two things – Delingpole making a boat trip with mates and a coordinated and exhaustive scientific monitoring and data-gathering exercise – not be the same?
So it seems we are now at a stage where absolutely nothing is real unless you have seen it for yourself, so you can dismiss all of the photographs and video footage of bleached and dead coral, the testimony of countless marine biologists (who, we apparently also have to point out, have been to the reef ) and the observations made by the government agency that manages the reef.
Senator Pauline Hanson and her One Nation climate science-denying colleagues tried to pull a similar stunt last year by taking a dive on a part of the reef that had escaped bleaching and then claiming this as proof that everything was OK everywhere else…….
Government ministers at federal and state levels, of both political stripes, claim they want to protect the reef.
They are running this protection racket, somehow, by continuing to support plans for a coalmine that will be the biggest in the country’s history.
That’s some more hubris right there.