[Coral-List] Community consensus on whether or not local efforts are of value to coral reef conservation

Alan E. Strong Alan.E.Strong at noaa.gov
Mon Nov 6 08:02:55 EST 2006

Thanks Simon for again pointing out these important time lags in our 
atmosphere-ocean system....they are typically either not understood or 
ignored in most discussions in our instant-fix society.

It's good to see some realistic statements on what appears to be in 
store for corals over the next several decades...and more importantly 
what managers might do to lessen their impacts...


Simon D Donner wrote:
> Les and Mark’s comments about the importance of the Reef Manager’s Guide
> were on the money. There are two important time lags with climate change
> that we need to take into account:
> i)                    Societal: If we decided today to drastically cut
> greenhouse gas emissions, it will take time, years, maybe decades to enact
> those cuts.
> ii)                  Climate: As Mark mentioned, even if were could freeze
> emissions today, the residence time of greenhouse gases and the memory of
> the atmosphere and ocean imply an unavoidable “committed warming”, maybe
> 0.5-1 degree C, that could lead to more frequent and severe bleaching
> events. 
> My colleagues and I have been examining point (ii) using climate models. The
> implication is that some damage to coral reefs may be inevitable at this
> point. Therefore, to ensure coral reefs withstand climate change, we should
> not cut greenhouse gas emissions, we should do our absolute best to reduce
> the other stressors (that are still under our control). That's how the Guide
> can help
> Now, that being said, climate scientists will be rightfully displeased with
> some of the wording in the climate change sections of the report. For
> example, section 4.3.1: “Some studies predict future increases in global sea
> temperatures of 1.4- 5.8ºC by 2100 (citing the IPCC report)”. That
> temperature result comes from the international, comprehensive review of all
> peer-reviewed literature (and model simulations) on climate change: the word
> “some” implies a sizeable proportion of studies predict otherwise. Another
> example: while I agree it is not necessary for every report that involves
> corals bleaching to include a long discussion of the causes of climate
> change, it is quite unusual that the words “greenhouse gas” do not appear
> anywhere in the body of the report. 
> I point out these examples not to make accusations -- they could be flukes
> of editing. I point them out because with so much scrutiny over reporting of
> climate change science by the US (and Australian) governments, it is all the
> more important to be very transparent and very accurate in representation of
> the literature. Fair or not, a lot of people may perceive this report as
> minimizing the extent of the human role in climate change.
> Simon
> -
> Simon Donner
> Princeton University 
> http://simondonner.blogspot.com
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**** <>< ******* <>< ******* <>< ******* <>< ******* 
Alan E. Strong, Ph.D.
NOAA Coral Reef Watch, Senior Consultant
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NOAA Coral Reef Watch Program
  e-mail: Alan.E.Strong at noaa.gov
url: coralreefwatch.noaa.gov

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