[Coral-List] SPPI report on climate change and coral reefs

John Bruno jbruno at unc.edu
Wed Jan 14 06:30:12 EST 2009

Just when you thought you'd seen it all, the "Science and Public Policy 
Institute" issues a report about climate change and coral reefs, 
claiming to debunk all our worst fears:


Also see Rachael Middlebrook's blog post about this here: 

Perhaps we could take a time out from the circular firing squad that is 
the coral-list and focus on debunking some really dodgy science. If 
coral-listers wrote rebuttals to specific claims in the SPPI report, we 
could post them on climateshifts.org. Here are a few highlights from the 

"There is no simple linkage between high temperatures and coral bleaching."

"The persistence of coral reefs through geologic time – when 
temperatures were as much as 10-15°C warmer than at present, and 
atmospheric CO2 concentrations were 2 to 7 times higher than they are 
currently – provides substantive evidence that these marine entities can 
successfully adapt to a dramatically changing global environment. Thus, 
the recent die-off of many corals cannot be due solely, or even mostly, 
to global warming or the modest rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration 
over the course of the Industrial Revolution."

"The 18- to 59-cm warming-induced sea level rise that is predicted for 
the coming century by the IPCC – which could be greatly exaggerated if 
predictions of CO2-induced global warming are wrong – falls well within 
the range (2 to 6 mm per year) of typical coral vertical extension 
rates, which exhibited a modal value of 7 to 8 mm per year during the 
Holocene and can be more than double that value in certain branching 
corals. Rising sea levels should therefore present no difficulties for 
coral reefs. In fact, rising sea levels may actually have a positive 
effect on reefs, permitting increased coral growth in areas that have 
already reached the upward limit imposed by current sea levels."

"Theoretical predictions indicate that coral calcification rates should 
decline as a result of increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations by as 
much as 40% by 2100. However, real-world observations indicate that 
elevated CO2 and elevated temperatures are having just the opposite effect."

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