[Coral-List] Global Warming Theory

Billy Causey billy.causey at noaa.gov
Fri Mar 6 17:44:16 EST 2009

Dear Tyler, 

While your comments do not present "a unique perspective on the issues" .... you do present a refreshing perspective and one that has not been said often enough.  I say it's not "unique" for many of us have discussed these ideas before ...but have not taken the time to post them on the coral list.  The debate as to whether or not climate change is real or not is over ... but some hang on to what they want to believe.  The problem is that for 30 years (1979 in the Keys and 1982 Pacific side of Panama -Glynn) we have observed the incremental impacts of elevated sea surface temperatures on coral reefs and their inhabitants, first in the Wider Caribbean, including the Florida Keys and later (1992) in the Indo-Pacific.  Today ... these and the associated problems (coral diseases, etc) are global and we have lost unprecedented amounts of living coral during the lifetime of the generation you address in your excellent posting.

For 30 years this debate has gone back and forth and decision-makers have been given a reason or option for not making the tough decisions on climate change issues.  I highly respect the scientific process, but this debate has most often not been about the scientific process and has most often not cited peer reviewed papers.  The debate has mostly been about minority personal opinions, individual philosophies and antagonistic viewpoints ...and unfortunately less about monitoring observations, good science, etc.  Even when there are great observations and good science the same old debate consumes our time and confuses the public and gives our decision-makers a way out of the hot seat (no pun intended).  It is way past the time when the debate has become reckless and our coastal and marine environments have suffered.  

Tyler ... I apologize for the health of the coral reef environmental that my generation is passing off to you and your generation.  However, I encourage you and all of those who believe the way you do to not give up and to look into the future.  In just a short period of 2 years those of us who work for the Federal government have witnessed a shift in the way our agencies are dealing with climate change issues.  I am incredibly encouraged by the way the climate change issues have rocketed to the top of national priorities. There's hope.  I want you and your generation to work hard on this massive, global problem so my 6 grandchildren will enjoy the coral reefs the way I did when I first saw them in 1962.  And I promise that I will continue to work on these problems until I can't work anymore.

Have a great weekend ... and thank you for this excellent posting.  And for those who will try to come back and debate with me on this topic ...it's over.  Billy

Ferguson, Tyler wrote:
> 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. 
> Sincerely,
> 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
> week.
> 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
> 361-882-3939
> 361-442-6064 cell
> qdokken at gulfmex.org
> www.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
> their
> 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
> somewhat
> unstable because I avoid eating grilled grouper.) My point is that you have
> a
> responsibility to find a more effective way to aggressively promote these
> concepts.
>  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
> Message-ID:
>         <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).
> Best
> Tim
> coralscience.org
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

Billy D. Causey, Ph.D., Regional Director
Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Region
National Marine Sanctuary Program
33 East Quay Road
Key West, Florida 33040

305.809.4670 (ex 234)
305.395.0150 (cell)
305.293.5011 (fax)

Billy.Causey at noaa.gov

More information about the Coral-List mailing list