This year is turning out to be an annus horribilis for my swine friends.
Not only have they been accused of being responsible for pandemic 'flu, but during the recent Queensland state electioneering circus a newspaper headline proclaimed that;
"Feral pigs are destroying the Reef."
Previously in The Bucket we have discussed various odd associations like cows with guns, and chickens in choppers, so why not now scuba diving suicide piglets with coral destroying bombs strapped to their little bellies.
The article was however referring to the incumbent government's inept management of feral pigs rooting around in mainland national parks, the catchment areas from which runoff ends up in the Coral Sea. Dirty fresh water is apparently detrimental to coral growth on the Great Barrier Reef.
Over my lifetime I have witnessed numerous prophets of doom proclaiming the imminent demise of our coral reefs.
Depending upon which attention-seeking post graduate nerd was positioning him/herself in front of a microphone or television camera at the time, various causes were espoused.
Crown of thorns starfish, excess sediment from rivers, too much fresh water, acid rain, nutrient and effluent from cities, farm chemical and fertiliser residues, acid sulphate soils, and coral bleaching from increased sea water temperature. It's a wonder there is any reef left at all.
Several of these variables have been impacting upon the reef in natural cycles for thousands of years. Nature responds, and accommodates change.
To a degree…..it is the extent of that degree which humans still do not fully understand.
The following contribution may very well not add to that understanding.
I live at the business end of the feral pigs habitat and see the damage they do to the rainforest floor in the mountains, which doubtless results in some increased sediment runoff, some of which may end up on the coastal flood plain. Finer particles might just reach the sea where river outflows are then mostly driven parallel to the coast by ocean currents.
Given that the barrier reef is, on average, between 50 and 100 kilometers offshore over its 1200 mile length, I wish to postulate my own theory on "how much damage feral pigs do to the Great Barrier Reef".
Firstly I would like to introduce to you a very old Australian bushmans unit of measurement which has sadly gone out of vogue with the advent of political correctness.
I wish to resurrect it.
It is called a "poofteenth".
It has a value somewhere between zero and three eighths of bugger-all.
GOFS THEORY OF PIG DAMAGE ON THE REEF
The damage that feral pigs cause to the Great Barrier Reef is coincidentally and precisely one single poofteenth.
So, aspiring young environmentalists of the world, go to it, prove me wrong.
I am a conservationist at heart, and, as a student of the natural world have an awareness of the constant need to monitor our environment and act appropriately in response.
It is my contention that far too much "research" is conducted primarily for the purpose of enhancing personal curricula vitae, rather than being a genuine effort for discovery of the real truth.
We would be better served when making practical decisions, to rely upon wiser heads with a broader intellectual and historical understanding of the evolution of our planet.