Monday, May 19, 2014

Fact Free opinion

Brief WEB break.
It seems ABC's commentators make up their minds in the absence of facts. A more rigorous editor might request facts but if the end result fits with your own alarmist mindset, it seems those pesky facts are not required.

Case in point is a recent opinion piece on ABC's environment page titled Walking the climate tightrope on Macquarie Island This deals with die back of Azorella (a cushion plant) on Macquarie Island. The writer immediately leaps to climate change as the cause : "The most likely culprit it would seem is climate change." ABC promote this tenuous link in the following manner: "Even in the remote reaches of the Southern Ocean, climate change is likely having an affect on the most hardy of plants." ABC promote certainty where there is none.

In a related piece broadcast on the increasingly irrelevant Landline, titled Cold Comfort we are told the cause of the die back that was only noticed about 5 years ago, has not been determined. In relation to the role of climate change it seems this must be very recent climate change indeed. Given the definition of climate change relates to an average of about 30 years of weather the link does not stand up to even moderate scrutiny. A look at some real data casts more doubts over climate change as the cause.
Macquarie Island has weather records going back to 1948. The graphs below from the BOM website chart max/min temp and rainfall.

There does not appear to have been a significant change in the weather in that time, especially over the last 30 years which would represent 1 climate cycle according to the WMO definition. 

There are quite a number of factors that may account for the die back admitted to in the Landline piece. It is unfortunate that the ABC allows its commentators to make statements unsupported by factual data. It seems ABC are unable to accept that we do not know the cause and instead promote alarmist speculation. 

Of note, a coincidence not mentioned is that the pest eradication program started a little over 5 years ago. Another hypothesis may involve the introduction and/or spread of a pathogen by this program.

Horses, donkeys, pigs, cattle, goats, dogs and sheep are long gone, and between 1989 and 2000, weka and cats were eradicated. A major project to remove the last remaining mammal species - rabbits, ship rats and mice - has been under way since 2007.  Aerial baiting of the entire island was completed in July 2011, followed by intensive monitoring by hunters and highly trained detection dogs, to detect and dispatch any surviving individuals.

In April 2014, after nearly three years of monitoring with no sign of surviving individual rabbits, rats or mice, the project was declared a success. 

The likely cause?...
Abstract: Azorella dieback on Macquarie Island.  A. macquariensis is a keystone species of the dominant feldmark vegetation on Macquarie Island. In recent years it has suffered from a severe dieback yet no causal agent could be isolated. In an attempt to determine whether a potential pathogen is associated with the die-back next-generation sequence technologies were used to characterise fungal bacterial and oomycete communities associated with healthy and die-back affected plants. A species of Rosellinia was the most frequently detected fungal species overall and was strongly associated with roots and rhizosphere soil of die-back affected plants. While Koch’s postulates must be fulfilled to demonstrate that this pathogen is a primary cause of the die-back on Macquarie Island, this finding provides strong evidence to support this hypothesis. Current attempts to isolate the pathogen responsible for Azorella dieback include techniques and semi-selective media suitable for this genus.
About the Speaker: Morag is a molecular biologist and mycologist with an interest in forest health, biodiversity and biosecurity of natural ecosystems as well as plantations. Current work is focussed mainly on root rots and rusts.

1 comment:

  1. Your blog piece goes to the heart of the social rot that has beset the western world.

    Almost all western media seem to have have rolled over and accepted the new religion-replacement belief system that fills the vacuum of humankind's traditional spiritual needs about the reason " why and who am I?".

    Climate (so-called) science is clawing to a cliff of credibility.

    That university qualified post-graduates in relevant science specialities who challenge, with empirical data, UN/IPCC computer-model mantra projections about a so-called human-caused global CLIMATE CATROSPHE are vilified by personal attacks by un-scientifically-qualified social activist noisemakers says all about this contemporarily unbelievable social scam afflicting western society.


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