[Coral-List] Science vs Science the Saga Continues
qdokken at gulfmex.org
Thu Apr 4 11:57:59 EDT 2013
Good Day All:
The challenge we face is not about which science does this or that or how
each of us live our individual lives. It is about the future, which will be
determined by how we handle the present. My thoughts:
1) The biological/ecological scientists have waved a warning flag; i.e. it
is possible that within the foreseeable future we can overwhelm Earth's
2) In this case, it is clear that we must begin to take action now to reduce
the chances of this happening.
3) To succeed, this message needs to be dispersed throughout all societies
to either take action or not.
This is not a message or challenge that anyone field of science can
shoulder. All fields of science must be engaged. As much as we may not
want to, scientists are going to have to become advocates armed with facts.
For health, well-being, and sustainability of future generations, scientists
can no longer serve to record what is happening and explain why it is
happening, they must become even more engaged in controlling what will
happen. We already do this in fisheries and wildlife management.
In an earlier note, Pedro noted that we cannot save coral reefs if we are
not focused on saving the whole ecosystem. He is 100% right. The condition
of coral reefs is a reflection of the condition of the global ecosystem.
In the note about governments controlling procreation - it is not
governments that will eventually control procreation, but nature, or more
precisely the limits of nature. I thought that was what this discussion was
about, finding ways prevent this from happening. Right now - today - there
are children dying of starvation because their society, economy, and/or
environment do not have adequate holding capacity.
The global economy is based on consumption. The citizens of the U.S.
epitomize this model of consumption; and to many in developing countries
this reflects the desired quality of life - one based on excess consumption.
The ability to consume beyond basic needs is based on unrestricted financial
resources which is based on stable jobs. Jobs are based on businesses that
produce a product or desired service. And on and on....
It is predicted that of the babies born today in the U.S., 50% will have a
life span beyond 100 years. Longer lives and continued procreation equal
more consumption. Ultimately, we either reduce the number of consumers or
reduce the per capita consumption rate. All sciences should/must accept
this reality. It is straight from freshman ecology 101. I vote for reducing
per capita consumption rates.
Clearly economist, social scientists, biologist and ecologist, and all other
sciences are going to have to be primary players if in fact we are going to
move forward on meeting this challenge.
So, what are the next steps we need to take? Let's discuss that.
Quenton Dokken, Ph.D.
Gulf of Mexico Foundation, Inc.
qdokken at gulfmex.org
3833 South Staples
Corpus Christi, TX 78411
5403 Everhart Rd.
Corpus Christi, TX 78411
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Peter Edwards
Sent: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 10:53 AM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] Science vs Science the Saga Continues
Here we go again...
Thank you Chris Hawkins for your balanced contribution.
I will try not to spend too much time on this topic. AGAIN (as per last
years heated discussion on the validity non-market valuation of coral reefs)
It is indeed disappointing to see some of the comments below. I could be
wrong but some of what I have read suggests a real lack of understanding of
social sciences and economics. Social Sciences as a sub branch of
"Science" is a very wide discipline. Most of the individuals who post in
this forum and consider themselves social scientists, or economists are
working for the same goals our fellow (natural) scientists are working on.
To better understand the ecosystem dynamics and drivers that impact/affect
coral reef ecosystems and to come up with solutions to solve them. WE ARE ON
THE SAME TEAM!!!!
There seems to be a lot of distrust and mis-interpretation of who or what an
economist is. Most of us who post here are probably best defined as
environmental economists, one branch of the discipline. Sure there are
other Economists - who only work in classic macro economic models that tend
to ignore negativeexternalities such as pollution etc. However this is not
so for environmental economists. Social Science is also much more than
Economics... there are Anthropological, Sociological and many other
scientific approaches to collecting, analysing and interpreting data that
can be - yes - "brought in to policy and decision making". Attitudes,
Perceptions, preferences have a direct impact on the natural resources we
are trying to preserve and protect.
I'll end by stating that I found this quote very troubling coming from a
fellow scientist... I am sorry but I have serious troubles in considering
most branches of economics an hard science due to its many false
assumptions, failed and missed predictions, disregard to very important
obvious variables and sort of implicit agenda.
This quote sounds like something that should be coming from -- say for
example a climate denier --- in response to evidence presented to them
based on results of interdisciplinary scientific work done over several
years by a wide range of well meaning individuals working to solve a common
problem.. In Psychology (another social science field) they might call this
type of statement a demonstration of psychological projection.
Perhaps this is an indication for us Environmental Economists need to draw
on the skills from other disciplines to help us better communicate to our
own scientific communities as well as the general public.
We need to work together not apart As scientists we can, and must do
better.. Peter(Tropical Marine Ecologist AND Natural Resource Economist)
Peter E.T. Edwards PhDNatural Resource Economist and Social Science
Coordinator Coral Reef Conservation Program IM Systems Group & NOAA/Coral
Reef Conservation Program
PLEAE NOTE: These views do not represent the official position of any
company or agency that I might be associated with. They are my own personal
comments on the matter
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 2013 00:09:03 -0700 (PDT)From: "frahome at yahoo.com"
<frahome at yahoo.com>Subject: [Coral-List] Fw: What agency should list
coralsTo: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov"
<coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>Message-ID: <1364972943.14481.YahooMailNeo at w
eb121302.mail.ne1.yahoo.com>Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1
What does maximizing social welfare means?
I think social scientists should focus on the concept of fundamental human
needs, then work with the society, other scientists etc, on identifying and
promoting ways to satisfy these fundamental needs, that have a minimal
impact/ecological footprint. This is the opposite of what is being done
nowadays by economists for example: fabricating needs and promoting resource
intensive, dubious, to say the least, satisfiers.
Social scientists should not forget to multiply by 9 billions (soon to come
world population) the resources required by any of their identified social
welfare or perception inclusion proposal to make it meaningful, fair and
sustainable in the "medium-short term".
Simply "making sure that (current) society's perceptions, preferences,
attitudes, values etc. are brought into policy-making" sounds a somehow
limited and static approach compared to the great role social scientists
could play in finding a solutions to the problems of our days.
Also the task is not really about managing resources or other species but is
about managing human society and ourselves as a species.
An attempt to describing "fundamental human needs" that I find particularly
interesting is the one developed by the economist Manfred Max-Neef. You can
find a brief description here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_human_needsor best in his articles
about "Human Scale
According to him "Fundamental human needs are constant through all human
cultures and across historical time periods. What changes over time and
between cultures is the strategies by which these needs are satisfied".
I call social scientists to work out better strategies then the one
PS. I am sorry but I have serious troubles in considering most branches of
economics an hard science due to its many false assumptions, failed and
missed predictions, disregard to very important obvious variables and sort
of implicit agenda.
----- Forwarded Message -----From: Christopher Hawkins
<chwkins at yahoo.com>To: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov"
<coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> Sent: Monday, April 1, 2013 9:33 PMSubject:
Re: [Coral-List] What agency should list corals
It is disappointing to see some seemingly very intelligent folks post some
of these remarks.
I have participated in a number of natural resource social science forums as
well, so a I am quite confused with the statements made in this string of
I will re-iterate that whether you are biological scientist or a social
scientist, you are a *scientist*, and therefore (typically) interested in
understanding the phenomena in a reliable, valid, representative, and
generalizable way. As a human dimensions specialist, I am charged with
making sure that society's perceptions, preferences, attitudes, values etc.
are brought into policy-making in a rigorous and objective way. I am not
sure how that all of a sudden becomes me ignoring that there are "very real
limits to the level at which the natural systems and resources can be
impacted before the living resource and/or system ceases to function in a
normal way, if at all.?Of course there are, and every social scientist
worthy of the title would agree. Throwing that statement? out there
re-enforces a misguided stereotype and confuses one profession with another.
For what purpose, I'm not sure.?
Managing nature resources is as much a social endeavor as it is an
ecological one. The goals, objectives, and reasons we manage areas or
species are derived from society: the last time I looked there was no divine
stone tablet telling us how these places, animals, plants, and habitats
should look. Attempting to manage such resources without solid social
science would be as silly and inadvisable as attempting to manage them
without solid ecological science.
Christopher Hawkins, Ph.D.Fisheries Social Scientist
University of Hawaii/NOAA Fisheries ServiceHonolulu
From: Pedro H. Rodr?guez phernanrod at yahoo.comSent: Thu Mar 28 14:38:40
EDT 2013Subject: Re: [Coral-List] To Dennis Hubbard (What agency should list
corals under the Endangered)
WE scientists? The social and eonomic scientists dealing with
natural-resource use apply the same scientific philosophy as you and me,
Dennis, and their goal is to maximize social welfare under the constraint of
sustainable resources. I see no conflict of
interest. ?Pedro________________________________From: Quenton
<qdokken at gulfmex..org>To: "'Szmant, Alina'" <szmanta at uncw.edu>; 'Pedro H.
Rodr?guez' <phernanrod at yahoo.com>; coral-list at coral.aoml..noaa.gov Sent:
Friday, March 29, 2013 12:22 AMSubject: Re: [Coral-List] To Dennis Hubbard
(What agency should list corals under the Endangered)
Good Day All;
Social and economic practice do not necessarily follow the constructs
ofscience and certainly not the realities of the limits of nature.?
Ineconomic and social science forums, rarely have I heard discussed the
factthat there are very real limits to the level at which the
naturalsystemsand resources can be impacted before the living resource
and/or systemceases to function in a normal way, if at all.? The belief
seems to be thatnatural habitats, wild populations, and the cycles of
ecosystem dynamicscan be compromised infinitely to serve the needs and wants
of humans. Thefact is that nature did not evolve in a manner to be
sustainable under thevariety and quantity of insults and compromises that
humans inflict.? Nor isnature geared to adapt on a human generational time
scale.? Everyenvironmental issue we face today can be discussed in terms of
lack ofunderstanding/acceptance of the fact that nature can only be
compromised toa limited extent before it
fails. Our regulatory system of issuing permitsis based on the belief that
nature can be compromised infinitely.? Yes,society must have jobs and
business opportunities to exist and flourish.Yes, there must beaccess to
natural resources to meet the needs and wantsof humans/society.? But, at
some point planning and permitting must factorthe limits of nature into the
model.? Nature does not take into account anindividual's or community's
culture, history, religion, uniqueness, dreams,financial need, property
rights, or any other purely human contrivance. Inand of itself, nature is a
perpetual motion machine.? Nature will functionjust fine until something or
someone disrupts its cycles to a point that theengine stops.. Very clearly
we can see the train coming at us and we don'tseem to be able to get off the
Quenton Dokken, Ph.D.President/CEOGulf of Mexico Foundation, Inc.
361-882-3939 office361-442-6064 cellqdokken at gulfmex.org
Office:3833 South StaplesSuite S214Corpus Christi,TX 78411
Mail:PMB 51? 5403 Everhart Rd.Corpus Christi, TX 78411
coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.
noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Szmant, AlinaSent: Thursday, March 28, 2013 4:09
PMTo: Pedro H.. Rodr?guez; coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.govSubject: Re:
[Coral-List] To Dennis Hubbard (What agency should list coralsunder the
I think the biggest difference between the natural sciences and the
socialsciences might be in our views of what is sustainable...? Many of
usnaturalscientists think that the terms "sustainable development"? or
"sustainableexploitation of resources"? are oxymorons!?? There is nothing
sustainableabout human development or exploitation as long as human
population growthis not halted and human population size is greatly reduced.
.. Alina M. SzmantProfessor of Marine BiologyCenter for Marine Science and
Dept of Biology and Marine BiologyUniversity of North Carolina
Wilmington5600 Marvin Moss LnWilmington NC 28409 USAtel:? 910-962-2362? fax:
coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.
noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Pedro H.Rodr?guezSent: Thursday, March 28, 2013 2:39
PMTo: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.govSubject: Re: [Coral-List] To Dennis
Hubbard (What agency should list coralsunder the Endangered)
WE scientists? The social and eonomic scientists dealing
withnatural-resource use apply the same scientific philosophy as you and
me,Dennis, and their goal is to maximize social welfare under the constraint
ofsustainable resources. I see no conflict of
mailinglistCoral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.govhttp://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailm
peteretedwards.ipower.com/index.html"What lies behind us and what lies
before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us".
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