Australia Today

The Government Thinks Giant Fans Will Cool Down the Great Barrier Reef

Scientists call the plan "a major departure from reality,” which, yeah.

by Katherine Gillespie
22 January 2018, 12:11am

Artist's impression by Ben Thomson

Many solutions have been proposed to the Great Barrier Reef’s climate change problem. Some of them come from high profile academics who have dedicated their lives to marine biology or climate science. Others come from Australia’s Federal Government. One such plan, as the Guardian reports, includes 2.2 million dollars' worth of giant fans being installed to “cool down” the rapidly-warming, coral-killing waters of the UNESCO-listed landmark.

Even though it’s almost universally agreed upon within the scientific community that we need to reduce our carbon footprint in order to prevent the extreme weather events which threaten not only the Great Barrier Reef but also literally every living thing on the planet, Australia’s leaders have been slow to address or even acknowledge the relationship between global warming and the demise of a Queensland tourism icon.

Confidential documents obtained by the Guardian show how in December 2017, environment minister Josh Frydenberg endorsed the installation of several giant fans which are meant to reduce the temperature of the ocean by mixing cooler deeper water with warmer shallow water.

The documents also show how, as you uh might expect, fans don’t really work on coral. Or, for that matter, humans, if my disrupted sleep last night is any indication. The expert panel composed of reef scientists concluded it would be ineffective, and might actually increase the heat stress on coral rather than decrease it.

“Looking at the literature (and from my own measurements), this seems a major departure from reality,” wrote one panel member, scientist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, in a summary document.

So unanimous was the scientific verdict that the fans wouldn’t work that the Government was forced to rebrand them as an experimental “research project” rather than an actual practical solution to coral bleaching. Needless to say, there have been no promising results so far.

The Guardian goes on to outline how other Australian Government initiatives are failing the reef too. A crown of thorns culling programme, for example, “may actually be contributing to the development of more chronic and persistent outbreaks” according to leading reef researcher Udo Engelhardt.

Meanwhile, the Great Barrier Reef’s coral populations continue to deteriorate at an alarming rate and Australia’s commitment to the Paris Agreement seems more unachievable by the second.

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climate change
coral bleaching
climate science
Extreme weather