Why has the political agenda been consumed by Tony Abbott’s apparently saleable (yet rather pert) arse over the past couple of days?

Climate change, of course. Tony Windsor’s vicious sledge regarding what the Opposition Leader was willing to do to sleep in the Lodge came during yet another Parliamentary debate on carbon pricing, the issue that keeps on giving to the Coalition despite Windsor — and the government — trying to move on.

Given the politics have been decided, a reality check on the policy might be timely. The CSIRO offered one this morning, releasing its latest report card on the impact of climate change on waterways. Some key messages:

  • The Great Barrier Reef: “Warming temperatures have been associated with reduced foraging success and chick growth in seabirds, changes in s-x ratios of sea turtles, more frequent bleaching of corals because of climate variability superimposed on a warming trend, some increases in abundance of large herbivorous reef fish, and decreases in abundance of coral-dependent fishes. Ocean acidification has led to a potential reduction in coral calcification and thinning of shells and increase porosity of winged snails.”
  • Sea level rises: “Sea level rise, currently increasing at 3 mm per year, will threaten coastal systems. Most at risk are low-lying estuaries and tidal flats, and beaches where there is insufficient sand for replenishment. In locations where human settlements or structures such as seawalls prevent landward retreat of coastal habitats, ‘coastal squeeze’ may lead to loss of habitats.”
  • Marine life: “Increasing water temperatures are likely to have an impact on the distribution of marine mammals and seabirds; ranges of both tropical and temperate species are likely to move southwards.”
  • Temperatures: “In early 2011, sea temperatures along most of the west coast were 2-4°C warmer than usual. Changes in the local abundance and distribution of seaweeds, sessile invertebrates such as abalone, demersal and pelagic fish were reported, with a shift towards a more tropical fish community. Such extreme climate events are key drivers of change and provide insight into future long-term change.”

The fish are on the move. Now a solution to that might just be worth selling your arse for.