[Coral-List] acropora (and broader opinions about threats)

Dan Brumbaugh dbrumbaugh at amnh.org
Thu Oct 11 13:21:22 EDT 2007

Dear Coral-listers,

Like Shanee, Tom, and others, I'd like to risk wading into this 
discussion to question some of the single-mindedness of some recent 
postings. OF COURSE, to the extent that the science allows, we need to 
speak with a united voice in the political arena to explain and protest 
(as scientists and stakeholders, respectively) the likely impacts of 
climate change on global reef systems. But in addition to the terrible 
changes that corals are experiencing, let's also try to acknowledge that 
there are other legitimate challenges and conservation targets at 
regional, national, and local scales. And some threats are worse in some 
places than others, and therefore different places require different 
suites of policies and management approaches (in addition to action at 
the higher governance levels).

Since it's NOT a zero-sum game (perhaps unless as Shanee suggests 
everyone is prepared to give up their current day jobs as scientists, 
etc., and become full-time activists or lobbyists for reduced carbon 
emissions, consumption, and pop. growth?), in the process of 
highlighting the global threats to coral reefs, it's just unnecessary, 
nonsensical, and politically counterproductive to actively denigrate 
other conservation targets and tools, such as improving land-use and 
water-treatment practices, restoring fish populations and more natural 
community structure and function via networks of MPAs, and the 
monitoring of biological and socioeconomic trends in order to inform 
ongoing management.


> I'm sorry if this seems disrespectful but it is utterly foolish to suggest 
> that resilience, restoration and monitoring should not be 
> explored/attempted or have no value. Particularly when your livelihood was 
> based on studying reef systems...to what end? To satisfy curiousity? To 
> hope (impossible) that they will drastically recover from global pressure? 
> If you find it frustrating that the discussion has shifted from causes to 
> options, and the only option as you see it is a reduction in population 
> and consumption (which really, I wholeheartedly agree with) then why do 
> you continue to study coral instead of that alternative? Coral reef 
> scientists enjoy one of the richest lives available to people with jobs, 
> if studying its physiology until the last coral dies is the end of the 
> line, then that is a massive failure for us, not for the consumptive, 
> breeding masses. There is meaning in discussing these things that 
> supposedly frustrate you beyond saving all corals simultaneously on a 
> global scale, and there is absolutely no time or energy available for 
> outcries against solution-oriented action, irrespective of their success.
> Best,
> Shanee 
>  James,
>> I couldn't agree more.  One of the points of
>> greatest frustration to me 
>> is all the discussion about MPAs and reef
>> restoration (and I know that 
>> Tom is heavily involved in this) and related topics
>> when the real 
>> problems are global in extent.  I greatly fear that
>> reefs as we know 
>> them are doomed (is that too strong?).  One you get
>> right down to it, 
>> the number one problem for reefs is people - too
>> darn many of them and 
>> too much consumption of goods.
>> No amount of restoration, MPAs, monitoring, genetic
>> analysis, and on and 
>> on are addressing the real problem.
>> See you at 2008 ICRS?
>> John


Dan Brumbaugh, Ph.D.
Senior Conservation Scientist
Center for Biodiversity and Conservation
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY  10024-5192
tel: (212) 496-3494; fax: (212) 769-5277
email: brumba at amnh.org
Skype: dan.brumbaugh

Visiting Scientist
National Marine Protected Areas Center, Science Institute
NOAA Fisheries Lab
110 Shaffer Road
Santa Cruz, CA 95060-5730
tel: (831) 420-3963; fax: (831) 420-3979


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