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by Christian Edwards

SYDNEY Bryan Holaday Jersey , April 24 (Xinhua) -- Australia's shrill blame-game over the decaying state of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) has potentially reached a turning point after new research effectively exonerated the mining industry -- the high-profile target of a bitter two- year public campaign.

Environmentally anxious Australia has been in a state of extended national hysteria in the wake of a 2012 report that revealed the World Heritage listed GBR had lost 47 percent of its coral over the preceding 27 years.

Despite the authors of that report -- the Australian Institute of Marine Science and Wollongong University -- stating unequivocally that coral loss was attributable to storms (48 percent), crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks (42 percent) and coral bleaching (10 percent), the booming mining industry has provided a convenient scapegoat for a public wrestling with the role mining now plays in Australia's two-speed economy.

Australian Greens commented the Australian government's 40 million AU dollars Reef Trust as a "continuation of Tony Abbott's protection racket for overseas mining companies" Thursday.

Queensland Resources Council (QRC) Chief Executive Michael Roche said that activists here are "ignoring the scientific evidence" and "blatantly peddling the line to Australian and international audiences" that port developments, dredging and shipping are endangering the reef.

"The activists" stated objective is to shut down Queensland's export coal and gas industries, Roche told Xinhua.

The report, released this week, confirmed that shipping and dredging overwhelmingly fell within environmental approvals with 43 of the monitoring programs reviewed showing reported impacts at 62 percent consistency, 21 percent reporting impacts less than approved and only 5 percent reporting greater than approved.

In some areas the impact on inshore coral was 20-times less than expected.

"Assumptions by some stakeholders of widespread and unintended impacts to areas of high conservation value, such as the Great Barrier Reef, are not supported by the results from extensive monitoring of many recent dredging projects in northern Australia undertaken in similar environmental settings," the report notes.

According to marine expert Amy Wilks, the finely balanced GBR environment is at imminent risk from a host of threats from agricultural run-off, coral bleaching, over-fishing, tourism... but most significantly, climate change.

She told Xinhua, "certainly the biggest impacts that we're most concerned about with our reefs is the impact from climate change. So climate change is having massive ramifications on the reef -- warming ocean waters; acidification of the oceans which effect our corals and then you've got all the man made influences from fishing pressures -- so our sharks are in decline worldwide and that impacts down the food chain as well."

In recognition of its globally significance, UNESCO listed the Great Barrier Reef as a World Heritage Site in 1981.

Running adjacent to the Queensland coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral habitat and one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth -- it is also one of the most threatened. Despite its World Heritage status, human activity lies at the heart of a problem that has gripped Australia and prompted the Federal Government to set up the 40 million dollar AU dollars trust as part of a number of initiatives to combat the reef's many threats.

Also finding traction is a government funded cull of the ravenous coral-eating crown-of-thorns that, according to Greg Hunt, the environment minister, which has seen some 250,000 starfish killed over the past 21 months.

Roche encouraged Australians to seek out the scientific analysis of the true state of the reef for themselves.

"Dredging and seabed placement continues to be misrepresented as an environmental threat to the Great Barrier Reef by activists whose only objective is to close down Queensland's export coal and gas industries."

Roche added that no increase in shipping traffic nor port dredging has been scientifically recorded as contributing to coral cover loss or a historical decline in the environmental health of the Great Barrier Reef.

"The scientific work into the ongoing environmental management of the Great Barrier Reef is no secret, and that is why we are asking Australians to learn more from the Queensland Government's Reef Facts website," he said.

In a statement released Thursday, Senator Waters lambasted the government's culling policy and the Reef Trust, saying "the Greens will continue to stand with all those who love our Reef and want it protected, while the government runs a protection racket for overseas mining companies' profits."

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany believed that an ERS (Energy Recovery System) error was the main cause of his late defeat in Sunday's US Grand Prix.

"I made a mistake because I used the wrong thing to get more KERS. When I saw him coming I decided to go for extra boost, but I never got it," said Rosberg, who started the race from pole position but surrendered the lead to his teammate and race winner Lewis Hamilton.

"I thought I was using the right thing, but there was a delay in that one. If I did it with a button it would be immediate, but with a switch there is a delay, so I never got the extra KERS," the German added.

"I had a big drop off, which is why in the last meters he got a good jump on me. So, that was a mistake that I didn't know about."

Rosberg finished second on Sunday and the defeat further widened the gap in the F1 drivers' table between the second-placed Rosberg and the leader Hamilton who had been enjoyed a 24-point advantage.

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