[Coral-List] Public perceptions about climate change

John Bruno jbruno at unc.edu
Wed Oct 28 10:14:06 EDT 2009

Mel, I dont think your post went through.

> Dear John (and coral listers)
> I agree that we as reef scientists need to do more to raise  
> awareness of the GCC impacts on reefs and possibly need to consider  
> some more flamboyant approaches ('just the facts" seems to putting  
> everyone to sleep).
> Maybe as a small start, we could all agree to have one coordinated  
> day for a "Reef Speaks" synoptic bombardment of the airwaves and  
> print media by reef scientists speaking out on behalf of the reefs  
> they have studied for decades. It would certainly raise eyebrows for  
> the media to see scientists acting in such harmony. We could arrange  
> the date to give maximum impact for the COP15 in Copenhagen.
> Regarding your question about ISRS and Copenhagen - the Society  
> doesn't have funds to send representatives. I am attending as part  
> of the Belize delegation and offered to try to coordinate reef- 
> focused efforts. All ideas are welcome - lack of time and manpower  
> to implement the ideas are the main constraints at this point.
> Regarding the ISRS website, three of the position papers (coral  
> bleaching, ocean acidification and coral disease) directly relate to  
> climate change and have been shared actively with journalists. Also.  
> the number one item on our "Call to Action" resulting from the ICRS  
> in Ft Lauderdale is to reduce CO2 emissions (see below).
> We have a real - but rapidly narrowing - window of opportunity in  
> which to take decisive action. We must immediately
> Cut CO2 emissions by lowering our carbon footprint and ask our  
> policymakers to commit to low carbon economic growth.
> ISRS is a professional society and not an advocacy organization and  
> there is value to maintaining this niche (since there are actually  
> fewer such societies of scientists than conservation / advocacy  
> groups). However, we do want to be active participants in this  
> global climate change discussion and make sure the threats to reefs  
> are widely disseminated and understood. ISRS has taken a number of  
> recent steps in this regard, including Rich's signing of the Royal  
> Society Statement on the Coral Reef Crisis on the society's behalf.  
> I'm sure Rich will have further thoughts on these important points.
> As one who lives 'on the fence' between science and advocacy, I can  
> say it is a precarious position, but one we as a society (ISRS) are  
> trying to carefully navigate. I look forward to your continued input  
> - and maybe your assistance in organizing the "Reef Speaks" day if  
> others think it's worthwhile and feasible. <332.gif>
> Regards,
> Melanie
> On Tue, Oct 27, 2009 at 4:31 PM, John Bruno <jbruno at unc.edu> wrote:
> As Steve Mussman posted about a few days ago, nearly 20% fewer
> Americans belive in AGW than just three years ago.  I think there are
> complex social issues than underlie this trend, but I also think this
> is happening because people are being misinformed by the media, even
> by otherwise reliable outlets like the New York Times and the
> Washington Post.
> Not to suggest that this will be the last word on this, but the AP
> released an article today for which they hired four independent
> statisticians to analyze (blindly) the 130 instrument temperature
> record and the 30 year satellite record.  The statisticians were asked
> to look for trends over time.  Did they find any recent cooling?  No.
> They found, like NOAA, NASA and the MET, that the earth has continued
> to warm over the last decade.  No cooling.  No plateau.
> You can read the AP story here:  http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=3350
> But there are already many recent newspaper stories, published peer-
> review papers and easily accessible online articles debunking the
> recent "global cooling" and "warming pause" myths, e.g.:
> http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=3261
> http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/10/a-warming-pause/#more-1265
> http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2009/08/warmest-by-fair-margin/
> So why are we loosing the public? They clearly are not being convinced
> by evidence.  There isn't any in support of the cooling/pause
> arguments.  I suspect that it is (in part) because the media is
> saturated with skepticism about AGW. Fox News commentators and New
> York Times science writers are spreading the myths there is a recent
> cooling or a plateau in warming.  George Will, who is read by tens of
> millions of Americans, wrote yet another op-ed in the Washington Post
> a few weeks ago arguing the earth wasn't warming.  I responded with an
> op-ed in the local Raleigh News and Observer (which you can read  
> here: http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/columnists_blogs/story/134115.html
> ) but I doubt I changed many minds.  And the editor cut the most
> direct criticism of the complacency of the media in this in general
> and of newspaper editors in particular:
> "Given the clarity and relative certainty of the science and the scale
> of the potential social and economic impacts, why do newspapers
> publish articles denying climate change is happening? Social
> commentators like George Will certainly have freedom of speech and a
> general license to express their opinions on the editorial page. But
> would newspaper editors publish essays denying other major threats to
> humanity? Imagine an editorial arguing that cancer, poverty, HIV-AIDS
> or genocide don’t exist and are merely the product of a well-
> orchestrated scientific hoax"
> I don't know what the solution is.  Grassroots education is important,
> but I sense we are getting drowned out by skeptics and even
> misinformed science writers with much large megaphones than any of
> us.  I have written every journalist I have seen publish an inaccurate
> piece about climate change and many of their editors and not one has
> responded.  Perhaps we need to employ the weight of our major society,
> the ISRS.  The word "climate"  does not even appear on the ISRS
> website (http://research2.fit.edu/isrs/).  I know we have position
> papers on various threats to reefs posted, but perhaps we could be
> more proactive and begin writing journalists and  columnists (and
> their editors) when they get it wrong.  The Ecological Society of
> America has been very active in such correspondence (http://www.esa.org/pao/policy_positions.php#letters
> ) as has the AGU and many other major environmental sciences
> societies.  And back in February, when George Will wrote another silly
> article about global cooling, a number of NGO heads co-wrote a letter
> to the publisher and editor of the WaPost.   Note I don't in anyway
> mean this as a criticism of ISRS or of any of its officers.  I am just
> throwing out a few ideas.  I don't think we have done this sort of
> thing with the society in the past and we likely lack the resources to
> do it on a large scale.  BTW, is the ISRS sending representatives to
> Copenhagen?
> JB
> John F. Bruno, Ph.D.
> Associate Professor
> Department of Marine Science
> The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
> Chapel Hill, NC 27599-330
> jbruno at unc.edu
> www.brunolab.net
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> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
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> -- 
> Melanie McField
> Coordinator, Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative
> Smithsonian Institution
> 1061 Queen Helmut St, Belize City, Belize, Central America
> tel 501-223-7680  fax 501-223-7681
> email: mcfield at healthyreefs.org  or mcfieldm at si.edu
> www.healthyreefs.org
> www.mnh.si.edu
> Join the International Society for Reef Studies
> www.fit.edu/isrs/

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