[Coral-List] scientists are not we should be most worried about

Les Kaufman lesk at bu.edu
Tue Mar 13 13:05:09 EDT 2007

Re: the message below, please let us do what we can to maintain a  
perspective on scale, and also to take every opportunity to teach  
about scale to the public.  What responsible scientists may do in  
terms of inflicting harm on reef organisms in the course of learning  
about them, is trivial as compared to what academics along with a  
worldful of their more affluent conspecifics are doing to reefs as  
resource consumers and generators of atmospheric CO2.   Furthermore,  
reef aquarists who purchase from responsible sources are probably  
promoting conservation more than harming reefs...at least until we do  
the math on the CO2 generated in to keep a halogen sun lit half the  
day on each of their reef aquariums.   Then there are playoffs  
between the benefits of an aware, politically active electorate  
versus the costs of these people acquiring their environmental  
concerns and maintaining their disposition towards activism through  
the inspiration provided by their slimy charges.

The absolute harm inflicted by scientists is hopefully a non-issue,  
but the symbolic harm of a citizen seeing a scientist collect or  
experiment upon corals still deserves attention.  It requires a lot  
of contact with the community of people who live beside a reef to  
succeed in sharing a bigger, more sophisticated picture of those  
factors determining the future of that reef, than the simple,  
superficial sentiments that would knit the observer's brow who  
happens to witness a scientist popping a coral branch tip into a tiny  
vial of alcohol.

Jenny and list,

This may sound silly to some, but how can we coral reef scientists  
"not to disturbe, damage or collect corals and other reef organisms"  
paradoxically, often that is exactly what we have to do to study  
coral reef
organisms in order to understand how these systems work and to produce
knowledge useful for their better conservation and management?


Les Kaufman
Professor of Biology
Boston University Marine Program
Senior PI
Marine Management Area Science
Conservation International

“I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.”
George W. Bush
Saginaw, Michigan; September 29, 2000

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