[Coral-List] Coral reefs on TV; great!...the message wrong!. (Camilo Mora)
moracamilo at walla.com
Thu Jun 19 20:12:13 EDT 2008
Few will disagree on the importance of broadcasting a SCIENTIFIC coral
reef symposium. However, I wonder what do we expect with that?. Do we
expect the general public to assist to the meeting? Do we want them to
be aware of the meeting and if so what is the importance of that?. I
doubt a person from the general public will pay over $500 dollars to
assists a series of presentations that only have meaning to the
presenter and few others in the auditorium studying that particular
topic. And I certainly doubt that this may come out as a topic of
conversation in a family or friends reunion. Hey Dad there is a coral
reef meeting in Florida. Uhhh... that is great son....????do you
picture this conversation?
I prefer to think that we want people to be aware of coral reefs, and
not surprise you see nice video clicks about how diverse, pretty and
cool coral reefs are . However, as a scientific community we have to
go beyond that. Letting people know about coral reefs is an overrated
task. "Finding Nemo" probably makes a hell of a favor in that regards
already (Although it will be interesting to see if there was an
increase in the international demand of clown fish.....).
Now being serious...future broadcasts (whatever way they take: TV,
press, radio, etc) really have to start saying how bad things are in
coral reefs and we have to start getting people thinking about how the
little things they do really matter when one add them 6.5 billion
times (i.e. the estimated size of the human population today). I know
people may change the channel when they hear a negative message but we
have to keep repeating the message until they hear. If a person has
cancer you can not really tell him how pretty the world is. What you
really have to do is to say how bad it is, how bad it can get, and
what has to be done about it. If the person opts not to hear, well it
will be up him to die of cancer, but at least you know you did your
part. Repeating a negative and dramatic message was the strategy taken
by scientists dealing with climate change, and see where they are now.
Even presidential nominees include climate change as one of their main
It will be up to us delivering a message that will make a difference.
We have to move beyond saying that coral reefs are pretty to saying
that they will not be there tomorrow if we do not do something today.
Camilo Mora, Ph.D.
SCRIPPS Institute of Oceanography
University of California San Diego
San Diego, USA
Phone: (858) 822 1642
Department of Biology
Phone: (902) 494 3910
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