[Coral-List] What can SCIENTISTS do??

mikhail matz matz at mail.utexas.edu
Tue Dec 18 10:50:10 EST 2007

I have a more specific question:
How can coral research help reef management and protection?

It is not as trivial as it seems. Most of our environmentally  
relevant studies thus far were directed at documenting coral reef  
decline. We don't have nearly as much data on the mechanisms of  
decline and very little if anything (hence my question) on the ways  
to counteract it on a local scale.

No doubt, documenting the worldwide decline of coral reefs is  
extremely important to raise public awareness, but now we're largely  
past this stage - Al Gore et al can take over from here. Public and  
politicians are already quite well aware of the problem, as the Peace  
Nobel indicated this year.  Surely much persuasion is still required  
to make the world take action - but this is not exactly our job as  
scientists. We won't be as useful there as the conservation  

For those of us who are scientists, our part of the problem is coral  
reef decline, our skill is research - so what can we do to help?  
While conservationists are struggling to convince the world to cut  
CO2 emissions, what can scientists do to help reefs survive - until  
the world listens? Looks like it may take a while...


Mikhail V. Matz
University of Texas at Austin
Integrative Biology Section
1 University station C0930
Austin, TX 78712
phone 512-992-8086 cell, 512-475-6424 lab
fax 512-471-3878
web http://www.bio.utexas.edu/research/matz_lab

On Dec 17, 2007, at 1:27 PM, John Hocevar wrote:

> [First, a pre-emptive note on restirctions about using this list for
> lobbying - this message does not refer to specific legislation, so I'm
> pretty sure this does not fit that definition for this purpose.]
> There is much to be said for actions we can take as individuals,  
> and for
> leading by example.  There is also a great deal of value in  
> clarifying some
> of the research questions that relate to the interests and  
> expertise of
> scientists on this list.  It is also clear that the urgency of the  
> crisis
> facing our reefs, our oceans, and our planet from climate change and
> acidification require action from policy makers.
> Greater leadership is needed from this community, which both  
> understands
> better than most what is at stake.  Many of us are already active,  
> through
> participation in lawsuits, testifying before congress, speaking to the
> media, etc.  We can do more.
> Action is required of us on an international, national, and local  
> level.
> The follow up meeting to the Kyoto talks just concluded in Bali,  
> where the
> US Government was the biggest obstacle to progress.  (See  
> "Europeans Raise
> Ante at Bali Climate Talks: U.S. Stance on Emissions Targets  
> Prompts Threat
> to Boycott Bush Forum" in Friday's Washington Post for a summary.)   
> But as
> Al Gore pointed out to delegates, the US position is almost certain to
> change over the next two years.  And, in fact, it has already changed
> significantly, with several climate bills currently being debated in
> Congress that would have been non-starters just two years ago.  On  
> the local
> level, some cities and states have chosen not to wait for  
> Washington to act,
> and are setting targets for greenhouse gas reductions and renewable
> portfolios.
> If ever there was a time and an issue that scientists and  
> environmental
> organizations needed to be working together to help communicate  
> what the
> best available science tells us to policy makers and the broader  
> public,
> this is it.
> At Greenpeace, our climate campaign now dwarfs all our other  
> efforts.  To
> get plugged in, check out either of the websites below (or just  
> drop me a
> note).
> www.greenpeace.org/usa/campaigns/global-warming-and-energy
> http://members.greenpeace.org/hotseat/
> Whether you are working with Greenpeace, another conservation  
> group, or on
> your own, the most important thing is to do something.  Are your  
> elected
> representatives in your city, state, and country fully aware of  
> what is
> happening and what it means?  Are there ways you can help inform  
> the current
> rapidly growing debate?  Are there ways you can help inform voters  
> to make
> smart choices?
> John Hocevar
> Greenpeace USA
> 512 454-6140
> jhocevar at greenpeace.org
>> Date: Sat, 15 Dec 2007 16:18:19 -0500
>> From: Judith Lang <jlang at riposi.net>
>> Subject: [Coral-List] WHAT CAN WE DO??
>> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>> Tom Williams raises an important question when he asks: "WHAT CAN WE
>> DO??," now that the risk from carbon emissions to coral reefs and
>> those who depend upon them for their livelihoods is receiving some
>> well-deserved publicity.
>> Here are a few suggestions for starters:
>> We CAN set a positive example for our neighbours and colleagues by
>> our daily choices of how much fossil fuel we consume, both directly
>> as a fuel and indirectly via our use of hot water, paper, plastic
>> bags, electronic trinkets, exotic foods, etc., etc.
>> We CAN minimize our long-distance work-related travel to that which
>> is really necessary to fulfill our research and educational needs or
>> commitments.
>> Those of us with some discretionary income CAN spend some of it on
>> carbon-offset programs: for example, planting trees in the tropics
>> where they will grow year round which also helps nourish impoverished
>> soils, and provides food, fuel or income for poor communities.
>> Cheers,
>> Judy Lang
>> Begin forwarded message:
>>> From: Tom Williams <ctwiliams at yahoo.com>
>>> Date: December 14, 2007 1:59:28 PM EST
>>> To: Coral Listserver <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
>>> Subject: [Coral-List] Fwd: Re: New Science Paper Says Carbon
>>> Emissions [MORE THAN] THREATEN Coral Reefs
>>> It appears to be FAR WORST than indicated in the
>>> Subject Line Check the conclusions --- WHAT CAN WE
>>> DO??
>>> PARTIAL From Science
>>> Science 14 December 2007: Vol. 318. no. 5857, pp.
>>> 1737 ? 1742   DOI: 10.1126/science.1152509
>>> Coral Reefs Under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean
>>> Acidification
>>> O. Hoegh-Guldberg,1* P. J. Mumby,2 A. J. Hooten,3 R.
>>> S. Steneck,4 P. Greenfield,5 E. Gomez,6 C. D.
>>> Harvell,7 P. F. Sale,8 A. J. Edwards,9 K.,
>>> Caldeira,10, N. Knowlton,11 C. M. Eakin,12 R.
>>> Iglesias-Prieto,13  N.Muthiga,14 R. H. Bradbury,15 A.
>>> Dubi,16 M. E. Hatziolos17
>>> "Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is
>>> expected to exceed 500 parts per million and global
>>> temperatures to rise by at least 2?C by 2050 to
>>> 2100, values that significantly exceed those of at
>>> least the past 420,000 years during which most extant
>>> marine organisms evolved.
>>> Under conditions expected in the 21st century,
>>> global warming and ocean acidification will compromise
>>> carbonate accretion, with corals becoming increasingly rare on reef
>>> systems.
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