coral reefs doomed?

Jeffrey Low jeffrey-low at
Sat Sep 8 22:37:06 EDT 2001

Hi everyone,

I hestitate to air my views in this forum, which will be read by the
"greats" in coral reef research. However, I beg your indulgence to add my
questions and comments to the debate on the destruction of coral reefs.

Factors affecting coral reef survival. I think it is moot to say one factor
overrides the other - unless we know ALL the factors, and how they relate to
each other, even the "global" factors may only play a small part in coral
survival in a specific regions, and at that point in time. Even then, these
factors would probably change faster than science can determine to be of
practical use.

Pollution. I use the term liberally here, to include CO2, sediment, sewerage
etc. Most, if not all, of the problems related to coral reefs are man-made.
While I hear a lot about the biology of corals, their reaction to certain
influences, what is being done to link the biology with the "pollution
management" sciences? My meaning is that should more be done to address the
question of how do we keep our environment cleaner?

Conservation, preservation, protection. Are we trying to keep the coral
reefs as they are? Even in the face of environmental change on a global
scale? Maybe their "time" has come and we will be powerless to prevent it.
Given that humans have caused premature termination of thousands of species,
but species extinction has been going on for some time, no? Perhaps the
overall degradation of the various ecosystems worldwide is an indication of
the (eventual) demise of the human race as we know it.

Population. I would class this as the ultimate source of all our problems
(not just for coral reefs). To paraphrase from the movie "Godzilla" - size
does matter. 6 billion people ... I can't even imagine what that number
constitutes. And it is set to top 7 billion by 2050? How do you manage the
waste produced by so many people? How do you prevent overfishing when fish
may be the main (and sometimes only) source of protein. How do you prevent
over-exploitation of the oceans resources? I recall a funny anecdote in the
newspapers about someone who calculated that if everyone of earth passed gas
at the same time, it would cause an explosion that would destroy the world.
It seemed funny at the time ....


Jeffrey Low
jeffrey-low at

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