“Climate change could devastate fishing industry: CSIRO” shouts the ABC news, as scientists predict the salmon, rock lobster and abalone industries, barramundi, prawn and mudcrab fisheries will be affected by changing rainfall patterns. In a welcome trend, the fishing industry have questioned the climate findings in the CSIRO report.
Industry representatives see the report contributing nothing new, and self-serving for the global warming scientists:
“In fact, the report itself is not much more than a collection of observations around what prawns are sensitive to in environmental terms, and that’s salinity and temperature, and none of that’s new. That work’s being accumulated over [a] decade.”
Mr Makepeace says he is concerned scientists appear to be justifying their research instead of providing advice.
“It’s a real problem to be putting so much emphasis into managing climate change in fisheries when there is so little information on which to base those management responses, I’m not sure what responses we can actually make to these changes.”
Another criticized the alarmism:
David Carter from the Northern Prawn Fishing Industry Company says the response has been damaging.
“It just unsettles folks and the use of emotional language can leave the wrong impression,” he said.
The preface by the Australian Government (huh, where is he, I want to talk to him) finds positive and negative impacts:
… little consolidated knowledge of the potential impacts of climate change. Both positive and negative impacts are expected, and impacts will vary according to changes in the regional environment: south-east fisheries are most likely to be affected by changes in water temperature, northern fisheries by changes in precipitation, and western fisheries by changes in the Leeuwin Current.
On the climate modeling, only one model, the CSIRO Mk 3.5 climate model is used, claiming there are only ‘subtle’ differences between the CSIRO models and other international models. They claim without justification that because of this general agreement, general trends can be used rather than the absolute magnitude of the predicted changes (p4). But this is not justified as here, I have shown that the models even get trends in rainfall completely wrong.
But generally they qualify the uncertainty in the text fairly comprehensively, mentioning both sides of the uncertainty distribution. Although they do cite a piece of flotsom called Rahmstorf et al. 2007.
There is considerable uncertainty regarding climate model predictions, in both time and space. Uncertainty results from model dynamics and resolution, and because the future is not completely known: future changes in greenhouse gases cannot be predicted. Over shorter time periods, climate variability dominates and predictions from models are more uncertain than for longer time scales. At regional scales (100s of kilometers), projections are also uncertain and model development to allow regional downscaling is required in the coming years. Despite this uncertainty, there is agreement between climate scientists about large scale climate features, and we can proceed with caution in exploring future impacts on fisheries and aquaculture. Observational data available for the period since 1990 raises concerns for the speed at which greenhouse gases are impacting the climate system. In particular, sea level may be responding more quickly to climate change than global climate models indicate (Rahmstorf et al. 2007). Therefore, future projections used in this review may be considered as conservative estimates of future climate, and both positive and negative impacts may be of greater magnitude.
I can find no match for the word ‘devastate’ used by the ABC to describe the results anywhere. Unlike the Drought Exceptional Circumstances Report which secreted the qualifications in a distant box, and laced the text with juicy hyperbole, this one is more sanguine. I think the press however, being well trained to respond to every climate report as a code red alert, is responsible in this case for exaggerating the conclusions out of all proportion.