[Coral-List] GIRL POWER RE: Reefs in Trouble - The Real Root Cause

Sarah Frias-Torres sfrias_torres at hotmail.com
Thu Sep 11 10:33:05 EDT 2008

Dear Alina, Steve and Coral-listers,
remember the closing remarks session at ICRS Fort Lauderdale? when finally the big elephant in the room was mentioned : human overpopulation and associated over-use of resources ?... Oh! the horror! 
and then someone in the panel urged us to "not to worry", "somebody is working on it." Really ? Are you kidding me? Of course, how scientist dare to point at the root cause of a problem! Thanks to Peter Sale's comment we did recover our honor at talking about the real facts in science and in life.
Now, I'm going to be politically incorrect in my next comments / suggestion, and frankly I don't care. There is much at stake now to waste time in niceties.
Remember that little graph in high school or first year of college? the sigmoid curve of bacteria growing in a closed environment ? there was a break in that curve, at the end, where population growth was negative. It was explained to us that is when bacteria have used all the nutrients available, and start living among their own waste, resulting in net population decrease. 
Well, we have already reached the population cesspool. We ARE living in our own waste, destroying beyond precedent the life support system of our planet... and still growing !
Some facts here:
1) in our species, females (=women) get pregnant and give birth. It's funny how this simple fact of life is usually forgotten in all the big campaigns, numerical models, conferences, and the works.
2) the more control a woman has on her fertility (read here, contraception, family planning, whatever) the least amount of children she has.
3) There is an indirect relationship for girls and young women around the world, between number of years of schooling and number of children they give birth to. The rule of thumb is something like for every 3 years of schooling after primary school you have one less child. At the PhD level and postdoc, a woman's contribution to population has the potential of becoming negative. (reference from a UNESCO study, and sorry I don't remember the full ref).
So..... perhaps a good starting point solving the current situation is... GIRL POWER.  Women, at all stages of their life, must regain their power of deciding whether or not they want to bring new life to this world, and how much of it. It seems simplistic, but yet it is so powerful. Of course, it is not the only solution, but a good first step.
Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D. 

Marine Conservation Biologist
[writing this comment as an independent scientist]> Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2008 12:05:57 -0400> From: szmanta at uncw.edu> To: sjameson at coralseas.com> CC: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Reefs in Trouble - The Real Root Cause> > 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> > > > > > _______________________________________________> Coral-List mailing list> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list> _______________________________________________> Coral-List mailing list> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

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