[Coral-List] The long view is for the Undead: reefs ARE in trouble today

Richard Grigg rgrigg at soest.hawaii.edu
Sun Feb 26 18:16:56 EST 2006


         My real opinion and view of the world is much the same as 
Alina  Szmant's.   Overpopulation is the problem.  The Club of Rome 
estimated that the carrying capacity of planet earth is about 3 billion 
people.  We are double that now and there is no going back, at least not 
without a catastrophic event.  The 1000's of reefs that are still healthy 
in the Pacific are in places underpopulated or even uninhabited.  I visited 
about 25 such places several years ago in the Tuamotu 
Archipelago.  Unfortunately, they too will probably be discovered.  After 
that, if humankind does not face the human population issue head on, I 
don't think we can prevent these reefs from the same fate as those Phil 
Dustan was talking about.  There is time, but not the political will on a 
global scale.  But rather than dooming and glooming all the reefs in the 
world (dead or not), I think the number one action item should be 
containing the human population bomb.  Not overgeneralizing about the reefs 
but facing the real issue....us.

                                                                 Rick Grigg

At 11:03 AM 2/25/2006 -0500, lesk at bu.edu wrote:
>Dear Colleagues,
>It is extremely important that we converge on a common and consistant
>view on coral reef health that we can convey to the lay public.  We
>must also speak precisely when referring to any particular symptom of
>coral reef health on a global scale.
>I challenge anybody to produce data demonstrating that the tropical
>west Atlantic coral reefs have improved in condition or remained at
>level condition, by any measure you wish, over the past 25 years. That
>does not mean that the changes are irreversible or unprecedented in
>deep time, Gene.  It only means that it is a sad thing for us and for
>our childern that this is happening at this particular time, for we now
>cause this decline knowingly and deliberately, recovery will likely be
>a very lengthy process, and we are seem to be doing our best to inhibit
>even that.  The long view will always be there to make us feel better
>in some existential sense, but it is no balm to those of us who wish to
>enjoy and benefit from coral reefs during our lives and the lives of
>our children and grandchildren.
>Indo-Pacific coral reefs exhibit a vigorous ability to bounce back from
>denudation or phase shift, so long as there is a stable physical
>substratum on which they can rebuild (dynamite rubble piles are not
>very good for this).  However, the proportion of reef surface that is
>in a disturbed, regenerating state at any given time, and more
>importantly, the size-frequency distribution of these disturbances,
>looks very odd and very different than when I was a graduate student.
>Are we using the right data to characterize and track these changes,
>Rick?  Because the Pacific is still more robust than the Atlantic,
>there is much of concern that we can choose to overlook if that is our
>bias.  We'd better be careful not to be too easily reassured by the
>positive signs that coral reefs in the Pacific could hold their own,
>given the chance...because they by and large are not being given the
>The pace and extent of bleaching alone is awesome.  Who is coming
>forward to call this a non-event, or our response to it exagerated and
>misplaced?  Who is saying that overfishing is something that will have
>no effect on reefs worth worrying about, and that we can ignore it?
>Who is saying that the industrialization of reef destruction is not a
>real thing worth keeping in check? Who is saying with confidence that
>the earth is not getting warmer, that bleaching is not more frequent
>and severe, or that corals will definitely adapt to these changes and
>that the world shall remain much as wonderful as it has always been for
>us, no matter what we do?
>So what gentle hand is it, exactly that Gene and Rick wish to lay upon
>the scene?
>Les Kaufman
>Coral-List mailing list
>Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov

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