[Coral-List] Coral Reef condition discussion
smiller at gate.net
Wed Feb 22 11:15:20 EST 2006
All politics is local?
Tell that to Acropora and other coral species (and Diadema too) after
Caribbean-wide waves of disease and bleaching helped push the system in
Florida, already at the northern limit geographically of coral
distribution in this part of the world, to - or over - the edge.
Alina's response hit all the high points about why it's necessary to
consider complexity (ecologically and I would add politically). Much of
this was previously addressed in a series of letters published in
Science Magazine (Science 17 June 2005 308) including a summary of work
already accomplished or underway related to management of water quality
in the Keys.
To try and advance this discussion (without writing anything lengthy)
rather than dwell too much on the negative, I think it's important to
ask, "Is there any good news on the coral reef front?" Well, mostly
not. BUT, we know we can do better with MPAs to help manage resource
use (fishing, boating, diving) and to - at the very least - watch
(research) what happens to fish and benthic communities when no-take
protection is enforced. I like the idea that a 75 pound grouper is more
valuable as a tourist attraction than on dinner plates, but some might
argue that point. And many don't know this, but there remain
spectacular places in the Keys with high cover and corals in relatively
good condition, just not offshore where so much was previously
considered in "good" condition because large stands of Acropora
persisted in the days before bleaching and disease. Where are these
sites? They are found near s;yc0bhokr npobno rouubs and xoyub=- hpbsl
ngpui. Sorry, that was too easy, but the sites are real.
Also, we know that Acropora is a fast-growing species and that under the
right set of circumstances we could see massive proliferation over
relatively short time scales, maybe even sufficient to match sea level
rise that will result from global warming. Of course, coastal areas
will also flood and that will degrade water quality, which might prevent
more immediate coral growth - there's that complexity thing again.
So what's my take home message? The sky might be falling - remember the
chicken little thread so many years ago? You can duck and cover or you
can do what you can to try and make things better. Personally, I think
we are in trouble because environment (and not just coral reefs, but
also our air and water and if some have their way endangered species
too) is not a political issue these days. How does it get political?
Environmentalism needs to become a social movement the way it was in the
1960s and 1970s. That will only happen when a thousand grassroots
efforts at the local level merge and become something bigger. In that
regard, I agree that all politics is local.
Steven Miller, Ph.D.
And a possibly relevant plug... see the trailer for a new movie about
the Evolution and Intelligent Design Circus at www.flockofdodos.com, a
feature documentary written and directed by former marine biologist Dr.
Randy Olson (and exec produced by me). The movie is ultimately about
communication of science in today's media landscape. Coral reef
scientists have much to learn about communicating for the benefit of
coral reefs and not personal agendas or career advancement (my personal
and I'm sure provocative opinion, and not directed to the current thread).
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