[Coral-List] Global Warming Theory

Ferguson, Tyler tyler.ferguson at ttu.edu
Fri Mar 6 15:55:15 EST 2009

Coral listers,

After following the discussion on climate change in the past week I feel it would be helpful to give my perspective on the issue, as someone who will be “inheriting” the rapidly growing environmental problems we face. As a university student and aspiring scientist, I have been well exposed to the issue of climate change and am aware of the vast amount of scientific data that support the theory of a warming earth and the possible consequences associated with it. However, many of my peers are not as well informed about these issues and really have no desire to learn about them at all. It seems as though even though my generation and the one immediately following it will bear the brunt of the effects and be called upon to continue the present efforts to mitigate these changes, we are simply following the lead of many of our predecessors and turning our backs on the situation because, like those who came before, we do not want to be bothered with it. This seems like one of the major difficulties in garnering support for the cause in the public arena and convincing people to take action, because it is simply easier and more desirable for most people to listen to the naysayers and take comfort in their arguments than it is to change their lifestyles and our public policies.  
I agree with several other posters that one of the main barriers to changing public opinion on climate change is the lack of a visible, united effort from the scientific community to educate the public about the scientific facts behind climate and environmental change, and the reasons why we should work to curtail greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation. Despite efforts in both the distant and recent past to discredit the work of scientists, most people still accept scientific knowledge as the best way to learn about and interpret the world. Thus, at least from the perspective of my highly interconnected and politically interested generation, a strategy for swaying public opinion in favor of the environment would be for a large, united, and highly organized coalition of both old and young scientists to speak directly to the public about the facts behind the challenges we face. However, especially coming from my generation, it seems that scientists cannot do the job alone. We must work in concert with politicians and others involved in public policy to present a unified message to those who would turn their backs on this problem. If there are enough respected people visibly talking about the issues in an informed manner, the public, and especially young people, will pick up on it and the ideas will start to spread. Finally, as Dr. Dokken has suggested, for the idea of change to appeal to the public, it must emphasize the fact that in the long run we have more to gain from preserving our environment than we do from allowing it to be destroyed, and especially for young people the consequences that we could face in our lifetime. This can be achieved by properly educating people about the costs and benefits involved.
I hope that this has presented a unique perspective on the issues that have been discussed. I know that many young people are ready to take action, because we and our children have the most to lose from inaction at this critical juncture, and our voices should certainly be heard on this matter. 

Tyler C. Ferguson       
Texas Tech University


Message: 2
Date: Thu, 5 Mar 2009 11:12:20 -0600
From: "Dokken, Dr. Quenton" <qdokken at gulfmex.org>
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Global Warming Theory
To: <sealab at earthlink.net>, "'coral-list'"
        <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Message-ID: <007b01c99db5$93b0aac0$6500a8c0 at Quenton>
Content-Type: text/plain;       charset="windows-1250"

Mr. Mussman is correct, and it is important to note that the coral-list is
not a high profile forum in the public realm.  Generally we are choir
members preaching to other choir members.  Nor should we consider scientific
literature to be a public communication vehicle.  If we believe that: 1)
climate is undergoing radical and rapid change, and 2) human activities are
in part responsible for either the extreme range of the change and/or the
rapidity of the change then we need to be vocal in a more public forum.
Support those organizations and individuals who are carrying the message to
the public.  Al Gore and others have captured media attention and we need to
support and encourage them to keep up the fight.  And, we must be quick to
counter the spin masters.  Most of us in science do not understand the
dynamics of climate change and even fewer in the public do.  This makes it
easy for contrarians to spread misinformation and collect converts.  There
has been some very good information presented in this list-serve in the past

It is important to recognize that there is only one reason that anyone could
conceivably question the findings of the IPCC - money.  These contrarians
believe that behavioral change based on the findings of the IPCC could cost
them money.  This mind set is inseparable from the stock market and the mega
banks that have already cost us so much.  The public needs to understand
that behavior and societies are in constant flux and that change in response
to the IPCC findings is not the end of the world.  It could be the
beginning.  It is also important that the public understand that regardless
of cause, climate is changing and as individuals and as societies we must
plan accordingly.  Our heirs will have a very different world to manage.

A story to frame the challenge we face:  Last summer I was at a childhood
friend's home on a lake.  This was a large gathering of family and friends.
Food was plentiful as was beer in the ice chests, boats and jet skis on the
shore, and kids playing games.  In a reflective moment, my friend commented
that life could not get any better than this.  Since then I have pondered on
how to tell people who are living the life they always dreamed that it could
drastically change because of climate change.  The skies are blue, fish can
be caught, and Disney Land is open.  I don't yet have the answer.

Quenton Dokken, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Gulf of Mexico Foundation, Inc.
PMB 51  5403 Everhart Rd.
Corpus Christi, TX 78411

361-442-6064 cell

qdokken at gulfmex.org

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Steve Mussman
Sent: Thursday, March 05, 2009 5:39 AM
To: coral-list
Subject: [Coral-List] Global Warming Theory

After following your discussion relating to climate change,
I would like to insert an observation from a real world,
non-scientific perspective. I seems to me, that among those of you
who are the most respected in the marine sciences, the opinion that
anthropogenic climate change is real and problematic strongly prevails.
The problem is, that you are allowing the views of those like Gene's
unidentified friend to win out in the court of public opinion.
I don't know how many of you caught George Will's recent columns
on this subject, but these opinions are prevailing at least in part,
because of your collective passivity.
The climate change skeptics are not only well financed, but they are
better organized. As a result they are winning over too many converts to
doctrines. It is not only on this subject that your hesitancy to
collectively speak out is problematic. Your recent discussion on sustainable

seafood is yet another example. (I, for one, am tired of being labeled as
unstable because I avoid eating grilled grouper.) My point is that you have
responsibility to find a more effective way to aggressively promote these
 You cannot be satisfied to publish in scientific journals that are
generally ineffective
in stirring public opinion.

Steve Mussman
sealab at earthlink.net
EarthLink Revolves Around You.

Message: 4
Date: Fri, 6 Mar 2009 12:12:26 +0100 (CET)
From: "Tim Wijgerde" <t.wijgerde at coralscience.org>
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Global Warming Theory
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
        <50572. at webmail.coralscience.org>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

Dear Steve,

I fully agree with your views. 99% of all
scientific publications supports the theory of global warming. Only 50% of
all popular-scientific publications does the same. I believe this has to
do with scientific passiveness. We cannot simply publish in Nature or
Science and let the science journalists take over; scientists will have to
publish in these areas as well. At least make sure there is some sort of
review process that ensures scientific views are expressed correctly in
the media.

I still hope that more scientists will support
projects such as ours (Coral Science), which allows scientists to publish
their views in an understandable way to a large public. In the end, a
popular-scientifc article will receive a lot more attention compared to
the average scientific publication. That's just reality. But you can use
it to your advantage.

We are open to manuscripts (and we have
some nice stories in the pipeline, thanks to scientists such as Dr.
Fenner, Dr. van Oppen and? Dr. Houlbreque).



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