I suppose it is a sign of our environmentally "aware" (obsessed to the point of delusion?) times that it is probably pointless trying to point out such inconvenient facts.
People seem to prefer unfounded and false scaremongering to the plain, if less exciting, truth. Don't get me wrong, nobody wants a Chinese tanker stuck on the reef, but this is no disaster. At worst a part of the reef will be damaged and then it will recover, just as (see below) nature recovered after the Exxon Valdez spill.
You could almost hear the disappointment in the voice of the SBS newsreader last night when her expert told her that there wasn't that much to worry about. The ship doesn't have that much oil on board and the coal will simply float away if it breaks up.
An environmental catastrophe is when a rock the size of Manhattan hits the Earth. And nature recovered from that as well.
Anyhoo, here it is:
It’s the great slick of hype that’s the real threat:
Andrew Jeremijenko on ABC2 News Breakfast yesterday on the threat from grounded coal carrier Shen Neng 1
WE’VE seen in the Exxon Valdez that there have been long-ranging effects and we shouldn’t be allowing these things to happen.
Andrew Wight on Fairfax’s Brisbane Times on March 25 2009 plays the Exxon Valdez card:
QUEENSLAND authorities had failed to heed the lessons of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and have responded inadequately to the massive catastrophe unfolding on Moreton Bay, experts said yesterday. Occupational and environmental medical specialist, Andrew Jeremijenko said history was repeating itself off the southeast Queensland coast. “Moreton Bay is just as vulnerable as Prince William Sound. As more of the oil gets to shore, we are going to see the same effects occur [as in Alaska],” he said.
Oil leak from Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound, Alaska, in March 1989:
Oil on board the Shen Neng 1 on Saturday:
Oil leak from the Pacific Adventurer in Moreton Bay in March 2009:
Anna Bligh on ABC, March 13, 2009:
MY priority is to have teams of people out there cleaning this mess up to protect wildlife in what may well be the worst environmental disaster that Queensland has faced.
Reporter James Kelly on ABC’s Lateline on March 12, 2009:
KELLY: This green turtle is one of the innocent victims.
Zeb Felmingham, resort worker: We had a couple of pelicans that sort of got covered in oil a fair bit.
Official report into Pacific Adventurer disaster by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, February 2010:
OVERALL, 16 oiled wildlife were treated..The total oil related mortalities were three dead animals, comprising one sea snake, one little tern and one petrel species.
And just how great an environmental disaster was the huge oil spill of the Exxon Valdez really? No spill has been more demonised and exploited, but here’s the findings of a study into the true damage:
We review studies of four taxa—pink salmon, sea otters, harbor seals, and several species of seabirds—widely believed to have suffered severe impacts from the Exxon Valdez oil spill. These studies were conducted over a 10-year postspill period and included prespill information where possible. They demonstrated that earlier suggestions of negative impacts may have been unfounded (harbor seals) or that the species either exhibited no obvious detrimental effects of the spill (pink salmon population runs, population density and habitat occupancy of half of the 23 seabird species examined) or indicated impacts followed by clear evidence of subsequent recovery (sea otters, the remaining seabird species).
That study includes a warning to activists - and to the journalists now, alas, among them:
The results of such studies must also be interpreted objectively, free of preconceptions about spill effects and divorced from advocacy positions.