[Coral-List] Remnancy vs resiliency Part 3: making a list

Tom Shannon tshannon at uga.edu
Thu Mar 23 20:42:38 EST 2006

Alina and others,

As a relative neophyte to this amazing world of reef-based science, perhaps it is not my place to
jump into this discussion, but there appears to be several oversights in your suggestion... and
allow me to preface my comments by claiming, as others have, that I completely respect your
intelectual prowess and academic merits within this field... no sense in burning bridges before I
even get a chance to cross them :)

With that said:

1. We, as scientists, are but a small group within the world community, and are privy to far more
data concerning the direct and indirect dangers to reef health and survival than the rest of the
world will ever know or care to know.  We have provided the world with many unfavorable diagnoses in
the past and have had to argue our points to the sometimes incensed public that they should trust
our judgements, alter their livelyhoods, reformat their lifestyles and pay more taxes for the honor
while they're at it.  In short, a majority of folk (my own observation and opinion) in this world
don't exactly trust our little community and already view us as ultra-liberal, anti-conservative,
God-hatin', meddlesome, know-it-all brocolli-lovers whose prime objective is the ultimate subversion
and censorship of all they hold true and enjoy... okay, so that's the conspiracy-theory minority of
the majority... anyhow... In the same way that many well-meaning activists have ultimately
undermined the desired impact of their message by staging spectacles that succeed only in irking the
general public, what message will we be sending to the wary, non-science world by telling them
they're bad people for taking their family on a vacation to Curacao so the kids can finally get out
of creationist-country and see something natural besides corn and tornadoes?  How will we continue
to gain the respect and trust of people by interupting their Lent-season, friday night restaurant
date and telling them they really should have had some Mrs. Pauls reconstituted fishsticks instead
of ordering that delicious, blackened red-snapper with steamed asparagus hollandaise and cajun
In this particular situation, I think that public protest and similar activist episodes would
actually be detrimental to our being taken seriously.  There is no quick fix to this problem since
the only viable route, as I see it, is eductaion... and that takes time, not show-boating.

2. As a person who has received government monies, I am more than aware that the way to the heart of
a grant committee member is through not only good science but giving them a project that can be
offered to the gods to be shown to the flocks such that the gods will be exalted.  The gods, of
course, is congress, the flock is their constituency.  Who among us has successfully received a
government grant for reef studies WITHOUT stressing the economic value of healthy reefs and the
millions of tourist dollars they generate?
In blocking tourism, we take away a REALLY big chunk of the justification congress knows they can
take to their constituents without being tarred and feathered.  Without that justification, FAR less
reef grants will be granted, and the reaserch necessary to help the reefs will suffer severe

As for me, I like scotch... single malt.


Tom Shannon
Institute of Ecology
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602


Evolution IS "just a theory".
Creationism, however, is an unsubstantiated hypothesis.

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