[Coral-List] CO2 and the inconvenient truth

Thomas Goreau goreau at bestweb.net
Fri Nov 3 08:08:43 EST 2006

Dear Paul,

Nobody is objecting to the standard list of stresses to reduce on  
reefs that we have all been talking about ad-nauseum for so many  
decades with no real impact, we are only  pointing out that these  
have no real bearing on bleaching, and it is disengenuous to claim  
so.  Because coral reefs are affected by so many stresses  
simultaneously, all must be abated at the same time, it is not a  
matter of choosing those that are cheap or politically fashionable to  
address. Only serious reductions in atmospheric greenhouse gas  
concentrations can remove bleaching stresses. just as only serious  
reductions in nutrient loading can remove algae.  The fact that if we  
don't solve global warming all our other efforts will be for naught  
does not mean that all these other steps should not be done anyway,  
after all pollution will sicken many other life forms even after  
corals are gone, and terrestrial sedimentation must be stopped  
because we are losing our best soils even if there are no more corals  
to smother.  Coral reef countries need to get serious about  
protecting their real long term interests by insisting that the UN   
Framework on Climate Change, which calls for protecting the Earth's  
most climatically sensitive ecosystems, explicitly list coral reefs  
in that category, and include a trigger mechanism to reduce  
greenhouse gas emissions to levels needed to save them. Otherwise the  
treaty is just a death sentence for coral reefs. But at the Earth  
Summit in Rio de Janeiro all the island nations were bought off by  
largely worthless promises of support from the rich countries rather  
than stand up for protecting their own reefs, islands, and people.  
While we must do all the other right things, we cannot allow our  
governments not to act to protect our own natural resources in the  
international negotiations on grounds that our islands are a small  
part of global atmospheric pollution, because we are the first victims.

I am surprised that Kaufman has been permitted to describe me as  
"pissing" on the coral list server. This is stooping to a new low  
even after the prostitution and excremental charges that have been  
bandied on the server.

Thomas J. Goreau, PhD
Global Coral Reef Alliance
37 Pleasant Street, Cambridge MA 02139
goreau at bestweb.net

> Date: Thu, 02 Nov 2006 09:54:44 -0400
> From: Paul Hoetjes <phoetjes at cura.net>
> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] CO2 and the inconvenient truth
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Message-ID: <4549F8A4.1050300 at cura.net>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="ISO-8859-1"
>    Dear Tom, James,
>    I  think  you  need to also consider this publication (a guide  
> to help
>    local  managers  respond  to  the fact of bleaching, and yes,  
> probably
>    also  handy  to  find  funding)  from the viewpoint of the non- 
> wealthy
>    nations.  In Curacao (Dutch Caribbean) at least, but I suspect  
> in most
>    small  island  developing  states,  it  is  very  hard to  
> convince the
>    decision makers of the need to protect the reefs and the way NOT  
> to go
>    about  it is to stress the effects of global warming to them,  
> which is
>    locally  considered  a  hopeless  problem, and about which they  
> are in
>    flagrant  denial. The fact is that the easy way out for  
> governments of
>    such  islands  is  to say, "what's the use of allowing  
> conservation of
>    coral  reefs  to hamstring our economic development if the coral  
> reefs
>    are going to be gone anyway due to climate change, against which  
> we as
>    a  small  nation  are  powerless." It gives them an excuse to  
> not curb
>    nutrient   and   chemical  pollution,  erosion,  uncontrolled   
> coastal
>    development, and overfishing of the reefs. This is an attitude  
> we have
>    to  fight on a daily basis in our islands, basically at the  
> expense of
>    being able to also advocate local CO2 reduction
>    The  report  you  are reviling, finally provides us with  
> ammunition to
>    counter  this  situation.  It  basically  says  that of course  
> climate
>    change  will  destroy  the  reefs if it doesn't stop, but if the  
> world
>    does   manage  to  stabilize  temperatures  at  some  higher   
> but  not
>    catastrophic  level  (which is probably the best we can hope for  
> since
>    realistically  speaking it is already too late for anything  
> else), and
>    you  still want to have at least some reefs left, you had better  
> start
>    attending  to  your  local  problems  while the big guys get  
> their act
>    together.
>    This  report  finally  allows  us to beat the decision makers  
> over the
>    head  with  (it  is pretty heavy)the need to locally reduce  
> greenhouse
>    gas  emissions,  AND  to  safeguard  the reefs by costly/ 
> unpopular but
>    sustainable  solutions  for  waste  water,  solid  waste,  and  
> coastal
>    development problems, by providing a framework which  
> acknowledges that
>    bleaching  is  with  us to stay (until the wealthy nations - but  
> let's
>    not forget Russia, India, and China either) do something about  
> it, but
>    then  goes on to say that it makes the need to continue  
> addressing all
>    the  other threats to our coral reefs even more essential  
> because they
>    work  synergistically  with bleaching and will kill off the  
> reefs even
>    faster. It may be restating all the things you and I already  
> know, but
>    it  nicely  integrates  bleaching  with all the other threats in  
> a way
>    that can be more easily understood by decision makers.
>    I assume that this is why all the hundreds of managers from all  
> around
>    the  world  gathered  at the ITMEMS meeting (by the way, they  
> were not
>    'paid'  by the Australian and US governments; travel and lodging  
> costs
>    of  a  number were covered, not only by those governments, but  
> also by
>    UNEP,  and  ICRI,  allowing  managers who would otherwise not  
> have the
>    means to do so, a unique opportunity to network and exchange  
> knowledge
>    with  their  peers)  welcomed  the  publication  and did not  
> raise any
>    criticism  such as you do. It's a shame you could not be at this  
> forum
>    uniting  protected area managers from around the world to  
> present your
>    views there in order to generate some healthy discussion.
>    Best,
>    Paul Hoetjes
>    Thomas Goreau wrote:
> /usr/bin/arc: /usr/bin/arc
> Dear James,
> It's nice to see that somebody is willing to point out that the king
> has no clothes! This is just more of the same old stuff. In effect
> they are using bleaching as a funding opportunity to push for all the
> standard things that, though desirable in themselves, actually have
> nothing at all to do with coral bleaching or restoration. Basically
> they are saying "don't step on or throw anchors on bleached corals
> because they are just not in the mood for  it right now! And please
> give us more money for monitoring and setting up marine parks", which
> are full of dead and dying corals that can't be protected from the
> real causes of harm, global warming, new diseases, and land-based
> sources of nutrients.  All the stuff about resilience and killing
> healthy corals by moving them into bad neighbourhoods is silly too.
> The funding agency is wasting vast sums on these highly paid
> consultants who still don't get it, neither climate change nor new
> diseases nor tertiary sewage treatment nor serious coral reef
> restoration. This report was handed out to a meeting of hundreds of
> marine park managers paid by the Australian and American governments
> and international agencies to attend a conference next to dead and
> dying reefs in Cozumel as a hired audience for this propaganda. I'm
> sure most of them saw right through it.
> Best wishes,
> Tom

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