[Coral-List] Reef Remnancy not resiliency

Jeffrey Low cat64fish at yahoo.com
Wed Feb 22 21:25:26 EST 2006

Hi Albert and others ....
  Does that phrase "... let me play devil's advocate ..." mean that I am the angel? ... :P
  Anyway, frivolity aside, you raise a very pertinent point, that coral ecosystems are dynamic, and that different "regimes" can arise, oftentimes from similar starting points. I am sure someone can list a series of papers and research showing this to be the case.
  However, what is the acceptable change that we (at this point in time) are willing to accept? I find myself asking, more and more, not questions that are quantifiable, like "What percent of coral cover is on the reef?" Or "How many species are there?" but "Can I accept seeing the change of *my* coral reefs from the reefal system to [an algal dominanted one] / [rubble reef] / [artificial reef]?".
  Monitoring seems to be something that almost *everyone* does. I do it ... and I've been doing for almost 20 years now (*geez*). But where has that gotten me ... or rather the reefs? I know it is in decline ... *everyone* who has worked in the field for any length of time knows this. Do we need to conduct another study to confirm the results of a study that has confirmed the decline of the reefs, which was conducted to confirm the results of a previous study?
  Even though the formation of coral reef system (or any other ecosystem, for that matter) may be inherently unpredictable - I don't think the question is whether we can predict what it will change into, but can we live with it changing, in the first place? Knowing that it was through our inaction that the changes occurred? Adaptation would be an inevitable result of change (or else you would die out), so I don't think it is a major part of the equation.
  On the "local" vs. "global" issue, I will sit on the fence on this one - I see the merits of both "camps". My feeling is that what occurs locally, will affect things globally. Take carbon emissions, for example. If, and this is a BIG IF, everyone were to convert to less carbon emitting vehicles, would [human-input to the magnitude of] global warming be reduced? If the answer is yes (to me it is a "yes"), then what needs to be in place before this conversion can come about? The changes would be in three main areas:
  - Political : "Local" politicians must push for the necessary legislative changes to limit the carbon emissions in all aspects of industry, and to enfrce them
  - Infrastructure : "Local" businesses must be ready to support technology that emits less carbon
  - Lifestyle changes need to be made : The most "local" aspect of all ... the people must embrace low / no carbon emiision technology (that might mean giving up that 10-litre, SUV-built-like-a-tank-off-roader-that-I-drive-in-the-city car)
  There would be global issues, of course .... even with carbon reducing industries, the shear magnitude of the human population would probably over whelm the ecosystems. The "global" issue, to my mind, isn't the fact that warming is occurring, but what the world (as in its people) are going to do about it.
  Cheers, Jeff

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