ABC HEADLINE: "Coral protector: reefs keep our coasts nice" ABC Environment Online posted 10 February 2010
ABC REPORTED: ABC environment reporter John Pickrell provided a summary of the economic and other benefits of coral reefs. The report included statements from Ove Hoegh-Guldberg a veteran marine biologist and director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland; Ilsa Kuffner, a biologist at the US Geological Survey in St Petersburg, Florida; and Ronny Jumeau, the ambassador of the Republic of the Seychelles to the United Nations.
The article included the following claim:
-In 2007 the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that an increase in sea level of just 18 to 59 centimetres, likely by 2100, would be enough to wipe the Maldives off the map.
And reffered to a study by Researchers: -A study by researchers at the University of Chapel Hill in North Carolina, US, published in the journal PLoS One in 2007, compared 6,000 other studies and showed that reefs in the Asia-Pacific region are declining at a remarkable rate. It estimated that between 1997 and 2003 corals were being lost at a rate of 3,168 km2 a year.
The article contains factual errors:ABC editorial policy 5.2.2 (c)
1. IPCC AR4 report does not state that "an increase in sea level of just 18 to 59 centimetres, likely by 2100, would be enough to wipe the Maldives off the map." This is an inference of the journalist or comes from another document.
This statement is contradicted by the following statement from IPCC AR4 WGII Chapter 16-Page 698:
"For instance, chronic island erosion resulting from increased water depth across reefs with global warming and sea-level rise is envisaged for some islands in the Pacific (Dickinson, 1999), while Kench et al. (2005) present data and a model which suggest that uninhabited islands of the Maldives are morphologically resilient rather than fragile systems, and are expected to persist under current scenarios of future climate change and sea-level rise."
Alternate Views: The report failed to included alternate views as per ABC editorial policy 5.2.2 sections (d) and (e)
1. The report fails to acknowledge the following IPCC statement: "A large number of non-climate-change stresses and disturbances, mainly driven by human activities, can impact coral reefs (Nyström et al., 2000; Hughes et al., 2003). It has been suggested that the ‘coral reef crisis’ is almost certainly the result of complex and synergistic interactions among global-scale climatic stresses and local-scale, human-imposed stresses" (Buddemeier et al., 2004) (Box 16.2- IPCC AR4 Chapter 16).
This conflicts the with statement in the report by Kuffner "The main factors driving the decline of reefs are pollution and excessively warm water in the summer, which causes mass die-offs or bleaching."
The report failed to include alternate interpretations of sea level rise that might affect the Maldives such as:Mörner, A., M. Tooley and G. Possnert, 2004: New perspectives for the future of the Maldives. Global Planet. Change, 40, 177-182. This is mentioned in IPCC AR4 WGII Chapter 16 page 694.
The study by Bruno and Selig ["researchers at the University of Chapel Hill in North Carolina, US, published in the journal PLoS One in 2007"...Link HERE (Article should have properly identified the source and it was implied that Ilsa Kuffner had a role in the article, she did not.-ABC ED POL 5.6)] included un-peer reviewed data and results are questionable. (Similar to IPCC use of non-peer reviewed studies to claim Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035.) The article should have pointed out that this study is yet to be confirmed by assessments from independent scientists.
OUTCOME: Received 25/2/2010-
COMMENT: ABC Editorial policy Facts/sources/Alternate views