[Coral-List] Coral reefs on TV; great!...the message wrong!. (Camilo Mora)

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
   Dalhouisie University
   Halifax, Canada
   Phone: (902) 494 3910

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   1. http://cmbc.ucsd.edu/People/Faculty_and_Researchers/mora/
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