17 November 2009

A new book which demystifies the science surrounding coral reefs and climate change, will be launched at the UQ Moreton Bay Research Station open day on Saturday, November 21.

The lavishly illustrated soft cover “Coral Reefs and Climate Change: the guide for education and awareness” has been published by CoralWatch at UQ and supported by The University of Queensland.

Co-authors are educator Craig Reid, Professor Justin Marshall and designer Diana Kleine of UQ, and environmental education officer Dave Logan.

Professor Marshall, an ARC Professorial Fellow of UQ’s School of Biomedical Sciences, and President of the Australian Coral Reef Society and founder of CoralWatch, said many people were confused by conflicting statements about climate change and how this might impact on areas such as the Great Barrier Reef.

“There’s been a big swing back towards climate change sceptics, and we wondered why that was,” he said.

“One of the main reasons appears to be that a lot of people don’t understand the complex scientific arguments put forward.

“They do not know who to believe.

“In effect, this book helps convey the messages from the Great Barrier Reef Outlook report, data from the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the International Panel on Climate Change for anyone to read.

"It uses language and a set of conceptual diagrams that are understandable from the upper end of primary school on.

“It provides grim predictions about the future, but also shows what actions people can take now to effect change.”

Professor Marshall said the book was aimed at anyone wishing to explore the natural wonder and beauty of coral reefs and understand the forces that created and destroyed them.

“Reefs are already beyond 40 percent lost or unrecognisable and are disappearing five times faster than rainforests,” he said.

“Our current aim for carbon emission reduction, with 450 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere, is a future with no reefs. The best science published in late 2009 tells us that 350ppm CO2 must be our upper limit.”

Professor Marshall said the Native American proverb saying that “We do not inherit our environment from our ancestors but borrow it from our children’s” was nowhere more pertinent than our coral reefs.

The 256-page book is aimed at providing solutions and practical exercises that people can approach, and includes a CD with a workbook for teachers, classrooms and anyone interested in learning more through activities.

The book will be available for $45 plus GST and will be for sale through CoralWatch www.coralwatch.org or CSIRO or email: info@coralwatch.org.

Note: the Moreton Bay Research Station open day on Saturday November 21 will be at the station, Dunwich, North Stradbroke Island from 10am to 3pm. Details, including how to get there: http://www.uq.edu.au/news/index.html?article=19985

Media: Professor Justin Marshall, telephone 07 3365 1397 or mobile 0423 024162 or Jan King at UQ Communications 0413 601 248