[Coral-List] are our hopes for coral reefs false?
sealab at earthlink.net
Tue Sep 3 16:20:17 EDT 2013
First and foremost, I can assure you that Iâm among the most ardent
supporters of the ICRS
consensus statement. When I first read it, I considered it the Holy Grail
Iâd been searching for.
A definitive statement by the leading experts in the marine-sciences that
would surely compel
the diving industry (and others) to finally end the debate and react
responsibly with prompt and
decisive action in the face of the obvious threats that climate change
presents for coral reefs
worldwide. With statement in hand I approached some of the industryâs
leading personalities in
the hope that one of these highly respected icons would be able to broker a
Some tried, others considered it too much of a risk and backed away. After
all, DEMA is primarily
dedicated to the growth of the industry and apparently short-term business
that the consensus statement of the Chamber of Commerce is more influential
than that of the
International Coral Reef Symposium. In their eyes the economic viability of
the United States
must depend on coal, natural gas, and petroleum for the foreseeable future
and that apparently
trumps the ultimate existence of coral reef ecosystems.
Guess I should have known that. What was I thinking?
So I donât find your response to my question at all comforting. Not that
encouragement was your
intention, but if coral reefs are, as you described, circling the drain and
if their survival is dependent
on any level of expedient counter-action, then they most certainly will
vanish. Itâs good to know that
we might be able to keep some of the good stuff around for a while and that
a very large proportion of
reef-dependent species might possibly survive. After all we have to take
what we can get. Iâm not going
to pussy foot around with the sport diving community, but I know what to
expect and it would be helpful
if more established marine scientists were willing to step up, be heard and
back the effort.Iâll make my
appeal with more urgency, but I'm afraid that imagining a world without
coral reefs seems incredibly to
alarm but a few.
They just donât get it.
>From: "Kaufman, Leslie S"
>Sent: Sep 1, 2013 1:17 PM
>Subject: Re: [Coral-List] are our hopes for coral reefs false?
>To Steve Mussman and fellow coral-listers,
>As a co-author of the first draft of the ICRS consensus statement, I can
testify that the statement resulted from a careful analysis over several
months by a committee of senior scientists with well-balanced expertise, a
majority of whom are old fogies who still dive (the highly qualified
youngsters in the group who also dive will hopefully know who they are and
forgive me). We considered several hundred million years of tropical reef
and earth history, as well as current knowledge of local and global
anthropogenic impacts on coral reefs. We were attentive to the art of
messaging, but our emphasis was on simply figuring out the truth as best as
we could. We didn't think our colleagues would respect and join us for
anything less. We used the word "hope" also, which is variously defined as
the cherishing or desire of something happening that you actually do expect
could happen, whether the odds or high or low. We weren't just hoping. We
were saying that in our profession
> al opinions, the odds are high that much of the value that flows to people
from coral reef environments can be maintained if we act decisively,
quickly, and adaptively at both global and local levels. We were also saying
that if we do not act in this manner, we will lose these values.. Very
simple. Stop smoking, or die.
>So to answer Steve's question directly, no, we are not spreading false
beliefs. We're not spreading any beliefs at all. We are communicating our
best scientific judgement, and it says that coral reefs are circling the
drain but we can still plug that drain and prevent some of the good stuff
from going down it quite so fast. That was the notion that a couple of
thousand (I've lost count) folks knowledgeable about coral reefs and people
who live near them, endorsed as being consistent with their own best
judgement, too.. We might even succeed well enough for some types of
tropical reef community, and a very large proportion of living
reef-dependent species, to survive the hysteresis (and also the hysteria) of
>The sport diving community had better wake up. We do not need to pussy foot
around them, either. Tell it straight. Sport divers don't respond, they're
their own worst enemies. The disparity in reporting between Alert Diver
(which is, truly, alert) and other dive magazines is starting to show.
>Professor of Biology
>Boston University Marine Program
>Marine Conservation Fellow
>Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Ecosystem Science and Economics
>lesk at bu.edu
>From: Steve Mussman >
>Subject: [Coral-List] A World without Coral Reefs?
> Dear Listers,
> I hate to put this out there, but I'm beginning to wonder if I've been
> kidding myself.
> I've been collaborating with others in an effort to urge the diving
> to openly address the issue of local and global threats to coral reefs
> including an honest assessment of the pending impacts of climate change.
> doing so I've found it necessary to tread carefully in that strong
> resistance remains intact throughout the industry at just the mention of
> term climate change.
> But that's not really my focus at this point. What I want to know is this:
> Are efforts to forestall or mitigate the impacts of climate change on
> reef ecosystems already past the point being practical? Are efforts like
> last year's consensus statement from the ICRS just based on the
> institutional inertia of conservationists who value hope over truth and
> scientists who can't see the reefs for the corals? Am I (are we) spreading
> false beliefs and misdirecting efforts by persisting that coral reefs have
> future rather than urging that we begin to address the greater fallout
> their inevitable collapse?
> I'm honestly beginning to wonder.
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