[Coral-List] Approaching game over
Julian @ Reef Check
julian at reefcheck.org.my
Thu Mar 22 21:08:24 EDT 2012
....and to add to Dave's list of questions at the end, when can we really
expect to see governments around the world siding with the environment when
making a choice between business and environment, when push comes to shove?
Witness the European carbon tax on air transport. While it was just a
theoretical idea, it was popular. When it was first introduced, it was
popular....but when China suggested it might NOT buy Airbus because of the
tax its lustre started to fade, then the airlines themselves started to pile
in...will the tax survive? I doubt it. Witness the problems we have been
hearing about from Dean on Majuro. There are many examples of governments
caving in on environmental issues once business interests start to lobby. Do
they always provide "scientific" arguments?
We recently started to make an argument to do something about nutrient
pollution on one of the islands here that was an economic rather than
scientific argument. The science was there (Reef Check surveys, water
quality testing data, surveys by experienced international consultants) but
was ignored. So instead of thinking about a "cost" of RM 2 million, we
suggested looking at the problem as "protecting" over RM 100 million per
year in tourism revenues. Framed like that we started to get more positive
responses. Not everyone likes the idea of making it an economic argument,
but what if that works?
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"The bottom line of the Millenium Assessment findings is that human actions
are depleting Earth's natural capital, putting such strain on the
environment that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future
generations can no longer be taken for granted."
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of David M.
Sent: Thursday, 22 March, 2012 2:02 AM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Approaching game over
Thanks for the preaching, Mel, but I think it is a demonstrable fact --
almost a law of nature at this point -- that engaging in hyperbole and
throwing the occasional insult actually increases the odds of being called
upon to speak out on a topic.
The scientific community can continue to ignore reality as long as it likes,
but any serious student of modern media can find countless examples of
speech far more extreme than Sarah's rather mild comments not just being
used, but in fact dominating public debate and thought -- this trend has
been increasing since, say, the 1980 presidential campaign. (And there have
been countless examples in the past if one bothers to study, say, mainstream
media portrayal of minorities.)
There are quite a few examples of both sides using such speech --
effectively -- in the environmental arena, too.
Bringing it back to coral reefs, the questions she poses are legitimate.
How will use of tar sands (still the better term, despite the modern
marketing) affect climate, ocean chemistry, and the like?
And how can we effectively communicate with portions of the public whose
mind is inclined to be closed to considering the value of marine resources
far from their front yards?
On 3/21/2012 10:55 AM, Mel Briscoe wrote:
> "Once the Keystone pipeline is operational, it will be game over for
> Earth's climate and for the coral reefs."
> I doubt that the extreme hyperbole is a good way to communicate your
> concerns to decision makers.
> They simply do not listen to Chicken Little.
> "initiate a conversation with someone who still has a working brain in
> A truely wonderful way to get someone to listen to you.
> Sarah, your emails are now in the (permanent) public record.
> Given your stated attitude, I doubt that you will be called to
> testify! This squanders your knowledge and passion.
> - Mel
> -----Original Message-----
> From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Sarah
> Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 10:22 AM
> To: coral list
> Subject: [Coral-List] Approaching game over
> Dear Coral-ListersI think we are approaching game over.
> President Obama will announce tomorrow the permit approval for the
> southern portion of the Keystone XL
> This is a pipeline operated by TransCanada, that will connect the oil
> sands in Canada with U.S. oil refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. While
> the approval is still pending for the portions of the pipeline that go
> through the U.S. heartland (and one of the most valuable aquifers in
> the country), approval of the southern portion of the pipeline means
> that, unless something dramatic happens, the pipeline will become a
> Once the Keystone pipeline is operational, it will be game over for
> Earth's climate and for the coral reefs.
> When you follow the debate about this project, it's interesting to see
> that scientists are almost non existent. Reporters talk about
> and use the words "believe" to frame the consequences of using the
> Canadian oil sands and the pipeline. As if environmentalists are
> running around in some mystical trance, playing with crystals, singing
> kumba-ya, and using their believes to "stop the progress of America".
> Whereas the statements from the oil companies are framed as facts.
> They even go to the extend of saying "Canadian oil sand use will
> diversify the country's energy resources".
> Where are the climate scientists, the marine scientists, the coral
> reef scientists in this debate? Are any of the top scientists on those
> research areas talking to government officials, warning them against
> using the oil sands?I don't know if Canadian scientists have
> approached the Canadian government asking to reconsider the use of oil
> sands. If they had, it didn't work.
> Considering the U.S. is the largest fossil fuel consumer in the world,
> you would expect top scientists have approached the government and
> demonstrated this madness has to stop. I'm not aware of a commission
> of top scientists speaking up... the Union of Concerned Scientists seems
missing in action.
> What can we do?
> July brings the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium. I wonder if
> this will be the last ICRS held while there are still living coral
> reefs out there. Besides the many activities during the Symposium,
> those attending should think about the 13th ICRS, in 2016. If nothing
> changes, the Keystone pipeline will be operational, the Canadian oil
> sands will have had 4 more years to burn, and so all the other fossil
> fuel burning all around the world.Maybe the 13th ICRS will be renamed
> as the "International Coral Reefs We Used to Have Symposium"
> Perhaps the world renowned scientists attending the upcoming ICRS
> could draft a letter to both the U.S. and Canadian governments,
> explaining the major environmental damage of oil sand usage, for land
> and marine ecosystems, willing to provide their scientific expertise
> to answer whatever questions politicians might have... maybe it can be
> signed up by those attending the Symposium.
> Or perhaps, some of you in this list can get into the power circles in
> either government (or knows someone who can), and initiate a
> conversation with someone who still has a working brain in there.
> Or maybe someone in this list has a better idea on how to deliver the
> Think about it. Imagine if scientists could really change the world.
> Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D. Schmidt Ocean Institute Postdoctoral
> FellowOcean Research& Conservation Association (ORCA) 1420 Seaway
> Drive, Fort Pierce, Florida 34949 USA Tel (772)
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
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