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Peter Ridd’s Court Case — Free Speech versus James Cook Uni

Posted By Jo Nova On March 27, 2019 @ 3:02 pm In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

The court case is on Day Two of a three day process.

For the latest see GideonRozner on twitter


Peter Ridd Challenges James Cook Uni Sacking

Charlie Pell in The Australian, 2016

The first alleged breach of the code occurred in April 2016, when Professor Ridd emailed a journalist to allege that images given to the media by the Australian Institute of Marine Science and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority were misleading.

Professor Ridd said the images of bleached coral reefs near Stone Island, off the coast of Bowen in north Queensland, were misleading because they showed poorly affected corals, which were selected over nearby healthy coral and used to show “broad scale decline” of reef health.

Field technicians working for Professor Ridd took photos in the same vicinity as the bleaching pictures supplied by the university and GBRMPA which showed “spectacular coral living there”.

Professor Ridd told the journalist in the email that the use of the pictures was “a dramatic example of how scientific organisations are happy to spin a story for their own purposes”.

At one stage Professor Ridd was told he could not even discuss the proceedings with his wife, leading Mr Wood to compare the proceedings to a coercive “star chamber”.

Jennifer Marohasy reminds us this incident was a trigger that set off Ridd’s eventual sacking.  Ridd objected to the reef near Stone Island in Queensland being used to tell a story of disaster when the reef around Bowen (nearby) is in blooming health. Peter Ridd took photos in 2015 showing that the same area was doing fine and pointed out that anyone could find both good and bad examples of reef in the area and selectively claim a climate change disaster. In 2016 Nature published a paper “characterising recent loss of coral cover” which AustralianGeographic and others used to sell a story of a reef catastrophe.

This is when the censure motion started. Graham Lloyd, The Australian, 2016:

When marine scientist Peter Ridd suspected something was wrong with photographs being used to highlight the rapid decline of the Great Barrier Reef, he did what good scientists are supposed to do: he sent a team to check the facts.

After attempting to blow the whistle on what he found — healthy corals — Professor Ridd was censured by James Cook University and threatened with the sack. After a formal investigation, Professor Ridd — a renowned campaigner for quality assurance over coral research from JCU’s Marine Geophysics Laboratory — was found guilty of “failing to act in a collegial way and in the academic spirit of the institution”.

His crime was to encourage questioning of two of the nation’s leading reef institutions, the Centre of Excellence for Coral Studies and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, on whether they knew that photographs they had published and claimed to show long-term collapse of reef health could be misleading and wrong.

 This historic photo shows healthy reef above tide circa 1890.

Stone Island Reef, Queensland, Photo, 1890

Reef near Stone Island,  Queensland, Photo, 1890

This is allegedly the same area in 1994 showing a coral disaster

Stone Island Reef, Queensland, Photo, 1994

Reef near Stone Island, Queensland, Photo, 1994

Again in 2012, the area still hadn’t recovered — or so the story goes

Stone Island Reef, Queensland, Photo, 2012

Reef near Stone Island, Queensland, Photo, 2012

Peter Ridd photographs the same area in 2015 showing healthy reef

Note the same landscape in the background.

Stone Island Reef, Queensland, Photo, 2015

Reef near Stone Island, Queensland, Photo, 2015

The IPA have supported Peter Ridd in his battle for free speech, and are broadcasting updates:

Day one (yesterday)

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