Coral Bleaching on the Great Barrier reef

Last week, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced $5 million for new floating plastic reefs, set to be unveiled on the Gold Coast by 2021.

While the plastic reefs are really just a gimmick for the local council to drum up tourism, the irony of Palaszczuk throwing money at fake reefs wasn’t exactly lost on anyone tracking the death of the real Great Barrier Reef.

So what else has Australia thrown money at other than actually combating climate change?

Great big fans along the Great Barrier Reef

One idea for combating coral bleaching came a few years ago: gigantic fans. Proposed by Malcolm Turnbull, they were to be parked along the Great Barrier Reef with the intent of cooling down the water. 

Bleach-resistant super coral

Less obviously stupid is the idea of growing bleach-resistant coral, backed by actual scientists but readily taken up by politicians with little will to tackle the most cost-effective solution to bleaching.

While it’s far from impossible, growing super coral is wildly more expensive than decarbonisation. Acclaimed reef scientists Terry Hughes puts the cost of regrowing Great Barrier Reef coral killed in 2016/17 at somewhere around one trillion dollars.

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For more costly, if theoretically helpful solutions, see: fake forests, sunlight-reflecting particles, Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison’s magic dirt fund.

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation

Remember this? Almost half-a-billion dollars for a “charity” linked to fossil fuel donors to the Coalition? An organisation that was given only the vaguest of “management” goals, and money that a Senate committee would later called on the government to try and get back.

What ever happened to that?