Coral reef experts and climate scientists agree that due to rising temperatures, Australia's Great Barrier Reef is pretty much screwed. But when you search Google US for "Great Barrier Reef", that's not all that you'll find. Instead, at the very top of the page in the Top Stories module, you'll see a Breitbart article dismissing the damage done to the famed coral reef that sounds like it was written by a university student Republican who hasn't slept in 72 hours.
We were first alerted to the placement of the story — written by notorious climate change denier James Delingpole — by Twitter user Cody Brown. When we tried to replicate it ourselves in incognito mode, using the US website as opposed to the Australian one, we too found the piece in the Top Stories box:
That's... pretty bad! If you want an idea of how garbage this article is, take a look:
"Is the Great Barrier Reef dying due to climate change caused by man's selfishness and greed?
I'll lay money that if you asked this question to your kids' biology teacher or to Bill Nye the Junk Science Guy or to that nice Richard Osman off Pointless or to Matt Damon or anyone else who would have voted for Hillary Clinton or to any Labour (and a good many Conservative) politicians or anyone who works for the ABC in Australia, the BBC, the Guardian, MSNBC, CNN and the New York Times or comedy Senator Al Franken or Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem science at Oxford University or pretty much any other science prof from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard or Yale or any marine biologist or a lawyer from a big City law firm or anyone who voted Remain in the EU Referendum, you'd get the same answer: "Yes."
How do they know?
Have they been out there personally — as I have — to check?
No, of course not.
Listen, this guy says he's been to the Great Barrier Reef himself, folks, and did he see any of this phony liberal globalist scheme known as "climate change?" Nope!
The Great Barrier Reef is dying. This is not up for debate. Take it from the coral reef experts surveying it, as Gizmodo covered last year:
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most celebrated ecosystems on Earth — and it's dying. Months of extreme heat have turned thousands of kilometres of pristine habitat into an endless watery graveyard. This year's coral bleaching event comes as a warning. If we don't bring carbon emissions down fast, the Great Barrier Reef will not survive the century.
That is the stark conclusion of a new study led by scientists at James Cook University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The research, published in Science today, reveals a protective mechanism by which reefs have weathered heatwaves for thousands of years. But that protection is now being eroded by climate change, leaving corals more susceptible to the ravages of bleaching. Within a few decades, we could witness widespread ecological collapse — not just in the Great Barrier Reef, but on a global scale.
This isn't the first time the module has screwed up, either. During the Super Bowl, spammers were able to trick it into serving bogus results. Google has tried changing this top news module before — reportedly to prevent false stories from appearing at the top, though it denied that — but it's still spitting out garbage. (It isn't just the module, either: After the US presidential election, Google's first result falsely claimed Trump had won the popular vote.)
The danger here is that when someone impressionable or undecided on the veracity of climate science turns to Google for some more information, they get served with the ravings of Breitbart. This is not good! Google has a responsibility to serve accurate information in its news module — which, let us state for the record, is at the very top of its search page — and this climate science denying diatribe is far from that.
We reached out to Google but had not heard back at time of writing.