Media Release


Into Hot Water – Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg

Australian Story – Monday 27 February 8 pm, ABC TV and ABC iview

Eighteen years ago Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg created controversy with a report predicting the demise of many of the world’s coral reefs by the middle of this century.  

At the time his projections were met with scepticism and he was accused of needless alarmism.  But since then his overall predictions about the impact of climate change on coral reefs have proved correct.

Current scientific projections are that 90 per cent of the world’s coral reefs will be dead by 2050. But Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a member of the Foundation's International Scientific Advisory Committee, along with his team at the University of Queensland, believe it's not too late to act.

He’s now at the forefront of a bold new plan funded by overseas philanthropy to save the remaining 10 per cent of coral reefs from extinction. 

The announcement will lay out an ambitious global strategy to protect the world’s remaining reefs from the perils of increased sea temperatures, bleaching and other weather-related damage. 

The full story behind the plan will air exclusively on Australian Story on Monday 27 February.

When asked about his appearance on the iconic ABC program Ove said, “I think what is important here is to realise this is not about me and my family, but about the issue of how climate change and its serious threat to critically important ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef.”  

“I am sure there are many more interesting people to focus on. However, this provides an important great opportunity to profile the irrefutable science and highlight the urgency of the climate change issue.”

“Right now, given the misinformation on climate change, getting science across in different formats is extremely important – especially when it is linked to human stories that make this issue real to everyone.”

“We are no different to many other families that visit the Great Barrier Reef.  Coming here is one of the great privileges of living in Australia.”

At the moment there isn’t a global plan for reversing the decline of the world’s coral reefs. It’s crazy.

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg
Ove with his family

Ove with his family

After last year’s mass coral bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef, Professor Hoegh-Guldberg and his team feel the time has run out to argue about the politics of climate change and fossil fuels. 

“To continue in the current leadership vacuum is to ignore an overwhelming body of evidence that demonstrates that everything we depend on and hold dear will be stripped away, potentially exposing our nation to catastrophic conditions.” 

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg has been captivated by the ocean and coral reefs since childhood.

“I used to play with the fish my mother used to bring home from the markets in the bathtub and then they’d be washed off and cooked for dinner. The sea has always been this magical place and I’ve never been far from it. Just a quirk in my DNA.” 

He vividly remembers the first time he saw the Great Barrier Reef as a small boy. It was 1969 and he was with his Danish grandfather. 

“We went snorkelling and I saw my first butterfly fish. It was amazing. After that I got more and more interested in the ocean.”

Years later his mission to have the science behind climate change understood by the general public has led to some powerful allies.  

“It’s easy enough to imagine the ostrich-like capacity of any of us, when we see something we don’t like to stick our head in the sand… Well, Ove doesn’t do that.”– Sir David Attenborough

“He’s a very high energy bloke and a bit of a ratbag. He has his enemies. He’s put everything he can into this battle to getting science understood. And he’ll keep knocking down doors.” – Graeme Wood, entrepreneur and philanthropist

With early signs this week that the northern sector of the Great Barrier Reef may be starting to bleach again, Into Hot Water provides a timely overview coupled with a strong personal narrative of a scientist’s passion to protect the reefs he loves so dearly.

A young Ove on the Reef

A young Ove on the Reef