Exxon did not Kill the Coral Reefs

Exxon did not Kill the Coral Reefs

By Patrick Moore, PhD

On August 17 the climate alarmist group 350.org held a media conference in which they claimed “Exxon Mobil and other fossil fuel companies caused mass coral bleaching in Samoa, the Australian Great Barrier Reef, and the Andaman Islands. In addition, they touted, “The last 14 consecutive months have been the hottest in recorded history, and to this day, Exxon is still helping to fund an extensive web of climate denial,” as if Exxon is actually denying the existence of a “climate”.

This was duly reported with no rebuttal by Asha Glover on the blog “Morning Consult” out of Washington DC. The rebuttal could fill volumes but I will stick to a few hundred words.

Corals and the reefs they create have been in existence for at least 600 million years and the species of corals that dominate today date back more than 220 million years. Many things have happened during those years and one thing is that corals did not go extinct despite vastly greater changes in climate than we have seen during the past few centuries. For example, when it was much warmer than today, 50 million years ago, corals thrived and occupied more area than they do today. Corals depend on tropical climates for their survival!

The folks at 350.org are surely aware of recent studies demonstrating conclusively that coral reefs can recover from “bleaching events”.  During the 1998 El Niño event there was widespread bleaching of corals across the tropics.  It was reported at the time that it would take 100 years for the coral to recover.  It actually took 15 years, as reported by scientists who observed both before and after.

It was widely reported in April of the year that 93% of the Greet Barrier Reef was dead or dying.

It has now been confirmed by the tour operators who spend a lot more time on the reef than the “scientists” who went along with this fabrication that only about 5% of the reef suffered from bleaching.

Many scientists now believe that coral bleaching, which is caused when the coral polyps (animals) reject their photosynthetic symbiont algae (plants) is an adaptive response used by corals to tolerate brief periods of unusually warm seawater.

The coral polyps are somewhat like jellyfish, nearly transparent, so when the algae are rejected the white calcium carbonate of the coral structure appears to have been bleached. Most corals recover from bleaching when the ocean cools and then ingest new symbiont algae.

It has also been conclusively demonstrated that coral grow faster when CO2 is higher because CO2 is the food for the photosynthetic symbionts that provide energy (sugars) to the coral polyps.

In fact both land and ocean plants are growing faster now than they were before human emissions of CO2 rose due to fossil fuel use. There is a strong case to be made that human emissions of CO2 from burning fossil fuels has restored a balance to the global carbon cycle by returning CO2 to the atmosphere that had been gradually lost due to burial in sediments as fossil fuels.

Not only did Exxon not kill the coral reefs, and not only were the coral reefs not drastically damaged and will recover relatively quickly, but the CO2 emitted from the fuel Exxon sells us to run our civilization is having a huge positive impact on the growth of food crops, trees, and much of wild nature. It’s time to stop demonizing CO2 and recognize it as the giver of life it really is.


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