[Coral-List] Climate change

Michael Risk riskmj at univmail.cis.mcmaster.ca
Wed Jun 9 07:31:00 EDT 2004

Hi John.

I agree with your point. Many of the descriptions of reef "degradation"
could better be termed reef "setbacks". 

Perhaps I might shed some light on the use of the term "canaries of the
sea." I wish I'd said it first, but I didn't. To the best of my
knowledge, this was first coined by Walt Jaap, in the early 80's. This
was long before general concern about bleaching-Walt was referring to
all those other pressures that have driven reefs to their present

I think it's well past time for an objective analysis of the past and
present ranking of threats to the world's reefs-not a survey, as that
will simply be driven by those with research agendas.

On Tue, 08 Jun 2004 16:22:35 -0400
 John Ware <jware at erols.com> wrote:
> Dear Kate and List:
> While there have been many papers that use the words "reef
> degradation" (or
> similar) and "global warming" or "global climate change", I know of
> no work
> that has attempted to determine a direct link between putative
> warming and
> coral bleaching and/or reef degradation.
> Determining a link between global warming and reef degradation or
> bleaching
> requires an analysis based upon a 'signal detection approach' or,
> perhaps, a
> Bayesian approach.
> In the early days of attempting to link global warming and bleaching,
> there
> were many references to coral reefs as being like 'canaries in the
> coal
> mine'.  I think it was Bob Buddemeier who wondered how an
> uncalibrated and
> highly variable response to temperature change (e.g., coral
> bleaching) could
> be a better indicator of warming than a thermometer.  I wonder too.
> In any event, we don't hear much about 'canary in the coal mine' any
> more -
> perhaps most reef scientists recognize the difference between
> predicting a
> response to a change (bleaching as a response to global warming) and
> affirming a change after observing a response (is bleaching an
> indicator of
> global warming?).
> The latter is more difficult to determine.  If anyone has published
> on this
> topic, I would love to hear about it.
> In the meantime, showing 'horror pictures' of degraded reefs (which
> many of
> us have) and stating global warming or global climate change as the
> cause is
> a leap of faith, not a leap of science.
> John Ware
> Kate Forbes wrote:
> >  Hi there,
> > I am doing some research for the BBC into Climate change. We are
> filming
> > in different areas around the world to analyse different examples
> of
> > climate change, and we'll be holding studio debates and other
> discussion
> > on the causes of the examples we find. I am writing to ask if your
> list
> > members may be able to recommend any sites of dramatic and visual
> coral
> > degradation or change which may be attributable to climate change.
> I am
> > keen to invite discourse from those involved in coral research on
> any
> > aspect of this project.
> >
> > Kate Forbes (kate.Forbes at bbc.co.uk)
> >
> > (NB: BBC News is part of the BBC, a public broadcasting
> corporation)
> >
> > http://www.bbc.co.uk/ - World Wide Wonderland
> >
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