[Coral-List] resiliency vs. "remnancy" vs. sustainability

Jim Hendee Jim.Hendee at noaa.gov
Fri Feb 24 09:37:55 EST 2006

It would seem most people would agree that coral ecosystems aren't what
they used to be.

The word resiliency is another word for resilient, which means an
ability to quickly (usually) recover from a bad or unnatural
condition--in the present case, we might assume from a previously
pristine (i.e., uncorrupted by civilization) condition.  I wonder if
there are any such reefs left.   I'm not so sure the word is being used
correctly in our fellowship (more below).

Although "remnancy" is not a real word, one would infer that our
colleague Phil's intended usage would be as a means to describe the
degree or condition of the reef after it has been adversely affected by
civilization (more colloquially:  trashed); that is, how it can be
described as a remnant of its former "self" (biome?).  I'm not so sure
describing how much a reef has been adversely affected from its former
condition is useful, though, since (as was pointed out) in many cases
the reef in question may never have been adequately described (have
any?), especially since they're always changing (evolving) anyway, thus
few cases in which to measure past against current condition (I guess
that's what started the whole discussion).  But don't get me wrong:  we
should understand what is adversely affecting the reefs so we can stop
or ameliorate the condition.  I'm just not so sure "remnancy" has much
practical application for science, although for political purposes it is
probably perfectly practical.

Instead, since we want to keep coral reefs in existence, and we want to
provide them with the proper environment and support their vitality,
where we can, perhaps a better word for purposes of marshaling our
efforts is sustainability (I know I'm not the first to suggest this). 
Shouldn't we sustain the reefs until we remedy what ails them?  (Now
there's a concept:  clean up the environment!)  We can't really do
anything to promote resiliency (how do you measure such an ecologically
difficult concept?), although a conducive environment might be sustained
or managed (i.e., "cleaned up") to allow full (how to measure?)
resiliency.   Is it possible to describe how all the members of the
coral ecosystem interact to contribute to an integral resiliency?  This
is extremely difficult stuff, yet I would agree the goal is laudable and
should be pursued.

Okay, I know, the word sustain might imply leaving everything as it is,
rather than making things better, but I'm just not comfortable with the
word resiliency or "remnancy."

Just my two cents...


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