[Coral-List] one danger in MPA's and resilience

Douglas Fenner dfenner at blueskynet.as
Tue Mar 14 04:56:42 EST 2006

Good point, James.
    Several people have pointed out that an MPA can only control what people do in the MPA, they can't control global warming, and only a reserve that included the entire watershed or catchment could have any way to control the sediment and nutrients that come into the MPA.  An MPA is a marvelous tool, but if politicians, the public, or reef workers think it solves all the problems, we are in deeper trouble than we realize.  Bleaching can easily kill all the coral in the finest MPA, I bet it did that in 1998 in several places.
    Same goes for resilience, which is another great tool.  But if politicians think that resilience programs will take care of reefs even if we have bleaching, well, we can kiss our reefs goodby.  The fastest recovering reefs in the world will take a minimum of 5 years to have good coral cover after mass death from bleaching.  Some will take 10 years, I bet most will take more.  But the best predictions are that it won't be too long before we have annual summer bleaching, and then annual mass deaths.  No coral reef can recover in one year, none.  Even if reefs had 10 years, they will be missing the old corals, the huge massive Porites, and a bunch of others.  The reefs would be greatly altered.  But we are unlikely to have that luxury, most likely most all will be dead.  We can't afford to let anyone, politicians or otherwise, use resiliency programs as an excuse to let greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated.
     I'm not saying that I've heard people use that as an excuse, I just think we'd better be ready to not let anyone get away with it.
     It is likely that corals and zooxanthellae can do some adapting.  How fast, we don't know.  Good chance not fast enough.  Is that a risk we're willing to take?  Even if a few corals can adapt fast enough, the reefs will be radically altered, leaving them open for all kinds of unforeseen problems.  Its a risk we can't afford to take.
     The average Frenchman produces a third the greenhouse gases that Americans and Australians produce (on a per capita basis).  France is a developed country.  I think that shows we can reduce greenhouse gas production radically, without destroying our economies.  The average Chinese produces one sixth the greenhouse gases the average American produces.  Do we have the right to tell them that no, they can't produce as much greenhouse gases as we do, they can't develop, they must stay in poverty, so we can keep the total greenhouse gas production down while Americans waste energy in SUV's and produce six times as much?  I think not.  Americans have to reduce greenhouse gas production drastically, and China (and India) have to figure out how to develop without producing as much as the states.  I suspect we could do it if we wanted to and put our minds to it.    -Doug

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