[Coral-List] Reefs in Trouble - The Real Root Cause

William Allison allison.billiam at gmail.com
Thu Sep 11 07:51:43 EDT 2008

Its an uphill battle against enormous financial interests running
sophisticated disinformation systems - as we know well from the climate
change controversy. To illustrate what one of  the neocon think tanks are
putting out on the topics of population and environment don your hazardous
materials handling garb and visit:


for example:

Williams, W. E. (2008). "A minority view: The most valuable resource." *Fraser
Forum*: Sept, p 5.

Williams, W. E. (2008). "A minority view: Environmentalists' wild
predictions." *Fraser Forum*: June, p 27.

There is a network of such tanks and institutes in North America.

The communication methods of the interest groups behind such enterprises are
simple but effective:

Regular policy documents circulated to gate-keepers. Introduced with a
barrage of PR pieces in the media. Often the same document is updated every
year or so and serves as a launching pad for a subsequent drumroll of
articles that summarize and repeat the policy document messages and are
published in tank/institute newsletters, and in newspapers and magazines.

The vested interest groups have their own lobbyist and pr releases and use
the above-mentioned sources to buttress their positions.


On Wed, Sep 10, 2008 at 12:05 PM, Szmant, Alina <szmanta at uncw.edu> wrote:

> Hi Steve:
> Exactly right!  All I get are blanks stares when I bring up the human
> population issue...sheer numbers and selfish (innate) behaviors.  We are in
> fact doomed if we don't accept this as a first premise for any action.  We
> don't need any more science, research or monitoring to know what the problem
> is... we need social will and that just ain't there in a big enough quantity
> to fix the problem(s) for coral reefs or any of the other terrestrial and
> marine ecosystems that are failing or have already disappeared.
> Regards,
> Alina
> *******************************************************************
> Dr. Alina M. Szmant
> Coral Reef Research Group
> UNCW-Center for Marine Science
> 5600 Marvin K. Moss Ln
> Wilmington NC 28409
> Tel: (910)962-2362 & Fax:  (910)962-2410
> Cell:  (910)200-3913
> email:  szmanta at uncw.edu
> Web Page:  http://people.uncw.edu/szmanta
> ******************************************************************
>  -----Original Message-----
> From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:
> coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Stephen Jameson
> Sent: Monday, September 08, 2008 1:32 AM
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Subject: [Coral-List] Reefs in Trouble - The Real Root Cause
> Dear Friends,
> The following Guest Editorial just came out in the September issue of the
> Marine Pollution Bulletin.
> Jameson SC (2008) Guest editorial: Reefs in trouble ­ the real root cause.
> Marine Pollution Bulletin 56(9):1513-1514
> I wrote it in response to the International Year of the Reef /Science
> Magazine issue "Reefs in Trouble" (14 Dec 2007) that, in my opinion, missed
> a golden opportunity to address the "real" root cause of "Reefs in
> Trouble".
> It is also my International Year of the Reef contribution.
> I am attaching it below, as I thought it would be an interesting discussion
> topic for the coral-list.  I would very much appreciate your thoughtful
> reactions.
> Best regards,
> Dr. Stephen C. Jameson, Chairman
> Coral Seas Inc. - Integrated Coastal Zone Management
> 4254 Hungry Run Road, The Plains, VA  20198-1715  USA
> Office:  703-618-2775
> Email:  sjameson at coralseas.com
> Web Site:  http://www.coralseas.com
> ************************************************************************
> Reefs in Trouble - The Real Root Cause
> In this ³International Year of the Reef² it is paramount that we truly
> understand the root cause of coral reef decline around the world and take
> swift action to remedy the situation if there is to be any hope for our
> children to enjoy the benefits of these valuable natural resources.  This
> exigency is great because we consider coral reefs a leading indicator of
> global ecological degradation and we are on a fast track to potentially
> lose
> this entire ecosystem from the face of the earth - a dubious global human
> environmental distinction.
> The real root cause of coral reef decline is not carbon dioxide emissions,
> rising sea surface temperatures, ocean acidification, coral disease, over
> fishing, destructive fishing techniques, eutrophication, sedimentation,
> sewage, herbicides, pesticides, African dust, increasing human populations
> or any of the other individual or synergistic combinations of stressors
> affecting coral reefs locally, regionally or globally - these are only
> symptoms of much bigger and more profound problem.
> At its core, the real root cause of coral reef decline, when objectively
> looking at the evidence, seems to be attributable to innate human species
> behavior characteristics determined by how we are genetically hard-wired.
> It raises two key questions.
> (1) Does the human species, when operating in very large groups such as a
> nations, have the genetic capability to live sustainably with its
> environment?
> (2) Does the human species have the genetic ability to create and maintain
> systems of national governance that makes sustainable environmental
> stewardship possible?
> The answers to these two questions have important ramifications for the
> future of not only coral reefs, but for ourselves and our children, and the
> other species that inhabit this planet.
> With respect to question (1): We are able to make conservation and
> sustainability progress on small scales and when working with small numbers
> of people (Birkeland 2007).
> But when operating as a large group, such as a nation, the behavioral
> characteristics of the human species take on different characteristics,
> especially when decision-making is driven by competing national political
> and economic interests.
> While no one has any real quantitative data, one can just look around and
> see that the forces of environmental degradation and destruction in the
> world are many orders of magnitude greater than our conservation successes
> and, as a result, our best collective global environmental stewardship
> efforts fall short of global sustainable living (Speth 2008).
> In regard to question (2): Our every day experience in the United States
> (and in many other countries) informs us that the state of our governance,
> where wealthy business and special interests use campaign financing,
> lobbying, and media control to manipulate government policy and public
> perceptions is not a viable system for conserving coral reefs or for
> sustainable living because it is predicated on the fact that; ³He who owns
> the political trump card wins² (i.e., gets the corporate tax break, the
> favorable legislation, the permit to pollute, or the favorable ³blind
> eye²).
> It is a great system for creating corporate profit and socializing expense
> at global cost, but it does not produce clean air and water in natural
> environments or enhance biodiversity.  Growing marine dead zones at the
> mouths of our major rivers are just one big indication of the failure of
> ³the best system of government money can buy² under which we operate in the
> United States.
> To save our coral reefs, and ourselves, we must truly understand what we
> are
> as a human species.  Are we, as history indicates, just like any other
> animal that outstrips its carrying capacity and suffers a dramatic
> population decline?  Or do we really have the capability, when operating as
> a very large group such as a nation or group of nations, to govern
> ourselves
> effectively and live sustainably with our environment?
> If it is the latter, and we all hope it is, we must change the policies
> under which we operate and the perceptions that guide them!  The age-old
> practice of social groups moving upstream of their neighbors to ³give
> rather
> than receive² polluted water - the perception of eco-winners and losers -
> has morphed into the situation where the ³stream² is entirely circular.
> Like
> Ouroboros, the mystical serpent eating its tail, there is no fountainhead -
> the world is source-less.  The concept of ³others² rooted in every language
> on the planet is obsolete within a global perspective.  We must design and
> maintain a system of human governance that balances human population growth
> and consumption with carrying capacity and that accurately values ecosystem
> services in the economic equation ­ and do it fast (Jameson 2006)!
> {Insert Graphic of Ouroboros}
> Our children will soon find the true answers to these questions because the
> climate change challenge is not only a big chemistry experiment, it is also
> an unprecedented biological and social experiment that will determine if we
> are really different than other animal species.  Can society evolve from
> community to global consciousness?  The results of this seminal experiment
> in living will be ³the defining moment² for the human species that not only
> sheds important light onto who we really are with respect to our innate
> genetic characteristics and capabilities - but will also define the human
> legacy in history.
> Stephen C. Jameson, PhD.
> Chairman, Coral Seas Inc­Integrated Coastal Zone Management
> sjameson at coralseas.com
> References
> Birkeland C (2007) Pacific islanders' awareness of responsibility. Reef
> Encounter 34: 34-35
> Jameson SC (2006) How protected are coral reefs? Science 314(5800):757-760
> Speth JG (2008) The bridge at the end of the world: capitalism, the
> environment, and crossing from crisis to sustainability. Yale Univ Press,
> New Haven and London
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