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Australia’s science academy attacks ‘cherry-picking’ of Great Barrier Reef research

Graham Readfearn reports in The Guardian (26.11.19) that a Senate inquiry into farming practices’ impacts upon the Great Barrier Reef has been warned of ‘selective’ and ‘misrepresentative’ use of scientific evidence that will undermine efforts to protect the natural wonder.

‘Australia’s peak scientific institution has told an inquiry into the reliability of Great Barrier Reef science that it is “greatly concerned” over a trend to cherry-pick and misrepresent scientific evidence.

‘In a submission to a Senate inquiry, the Australian Academy of Science’s president, Prof John Shine, wrote that selective use of science and misrepresentations were “dangerous” and would lead to “poor outcomes”.

‘The inquiry, introduced by the Nationals senator Susan McDonald and the Liberal senator James McGrath, is looking at the evidence linking pollution from farm runoff to degradation of the reef.

‘In the months leading up to the inquiry, industry groups including Canegrowers and AgForce had sponsored a speaking tour by the controversial scientist Dr Peter Ridd, who claims that the reef is not being damaged by farm pollution. He also disputes evidence for human-caused climate change, and claims that mass coral bleaching events on the reef are natural.

‘The campaign had aimed to pressure the Queensland government to withdraw proposed legislation, which later passed, that set limits on nutrients, sediments and chemicals running into the reef’s catchments.’

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