[Coral-List] public awareness and concern

EAH mechers at gmail.com
Fri Oct 30 12:40:01 EDT 2009

> Some choices:
> Find aspects of local life that people are either afraid to lose or value
> enough to preserve.
> Change cultural perceptions about the intrinsic value of coral reefs people
> may never see outside of nature shows.
> I too have been following this discussion with interest.
> Em
>> Hi all:
>> I'm not a scientist (by any means), but I've been following your
>> discussions
>> for the last few days on public perceptions about climate change with
>> great
>> interest.
>> In the midst of those discussions, I found myself having to write a
>> Website
>> page about climate change for the Website of a grassroots environmental
>> organization on the Placencia Peninsula in southern Belize.
>> I'm not the most well informed person, nor the least informed.  Probably a
>> bit more informed than most people in North America simply because of
>> where
>> I live and what climate change will to this area.
>> However, I found writing that page very, very difficult.  I wanted the
>> page
>> to address local issues on the Peninsula, but also to give basic
>> information
>> to non-Peninsula readers.
>> First, local.  What concrete evidence of climate change have we seen?
>>  It's
>> been hotter than usual - hotter than just 10 years ago.  We had a Cat 4
>> hurricane in 2001.  Rains this year produced a lot of flooding in places
>> people don't recall flooding before (but that could have been because of
>> the
>> 7.4 earthquake we experience on 28 May of this year).  We have beach
>> erosion
>> in some locations, but no one is sure what's causing it - there's a lot of
>> speculation that the erosion is being caused by dredging of the South
>> Stann
>> Creek River so we don't have as much sand in our sand budget as we
>> formerly
>> did.  Coral bleaching, of course.  No local effect yet on mangroves or sea
>> grass beds to my knowledge.  One of WWF's climate change witnesses said he
>> thought the sea had risen, but has it?  I certainly don't know, and
>> haven't
>> personally perceived a rise in sea levels. Our water supply could be lost
>> because of saltwater intrusion, but nothing has happened yet.
>> Yet, I could point to SOME concrete measurable effects on climate change
>> to
>> a local audience that does know something about why coral is important and
>> how we'll be affected by changing weather patterns, potential loss of
>> mangroves, etc.  Not a lot of visible effects yet, but some.
>> Now, what about the non-local audience - say someone from St. Louis,
>> Missouri, where I grew up.  I can say something about how climate change
>> is
>> adversely affecting Placencia, but what do I say to someone from St.
>> Louis.
>> Yes, climate change can adversely affect corals, mangroves, sea grass,
>> plankton, fish, lobster and other marine life; cause flooding, drought,
>> sea
>> level rise and beach erosion; change weather patterns causing it to be
>> hotter or colder or wetter or drier than usual.
>> So what?  What do all those things mean to someone from St. Louis?  A lot
>> you say, because . . .  And that's where my problems began --  all the
>> because's that have to be explained and all the connections that have to
>> be
>> made.  Coral bleaching - hey, I'm from St. Louis - we don't have any coral
>> here - and I may or may not ever have enough money to go see it in person,
>> so, so what?  Mangroves - what the heck are they?  Who cares if they're
>> all
>> destroyed, what does that mean to me?  Sea level rise?  We don't have any
>> sea here in the middle of the country.
>> Ultimately, what climate change currently comes down to for someone from
>> St.
>> Louis is weather.  They have weather.  Is it hotter or colder?  Is that
>> caused by climate change or not?  That's an easily debatable topic around
>> the water cooler, while the universal effects of loss of coral reef, much
>> less mangroves and sea grass (sea weeds), certainly isn't.
>> Heck, I had to do a lot of research myself to try to write that page.  For
>> example, climate change will adversely affect mangroves and seagrass.  OK,
>> but how -- exactly?
>> Having scientists explain all this stuff about corals and mangrove and
>> plankton, et. al  is good.  But somehow, a personal link for that person
>> in
>> St. Louis or Des Moines or Little Rock or Scottsdale or Boise has to be
>> made
>> -- just as it's had to be made here in Placencia, where the connection is
>> so
>> much easier to make.
>> What's going to happen to ME (and maybe my kids)?  Will I still have a
>> job,
>> can I still go to Walmart and buy cheap tennis shoes, can I still buy a
>> car,
>> send my kids to school, barbecue spare ribs in the backyard in the summer,
>> grow tomatoes in my backyard, go sledding in the winter, watch sit-coms on
>> TV, fish for crappie on the weekends?  Will my kids have a better or worse
>> life than I have? Will they have a chance to do better than I'm doing?
>> I don't know enough to make all this more personal to people who aren't
>> likely to be DIRECTLY affected by climate change in the immediate future.
>> But there has to be a way, and maybe some of you who do have this
>> knowledge
>> need to start talking to people who know about marketing and advertising
>> and
>> public opinion so that the people around the water cooler something to
>> talk
>> about other than the weather.
>> I'm sure all of you have identified this problem, but I somehow felt
>> compelled to write this email to give you an idea of how climate change is
>> so hard for us non-scientists, even moderately educated ones, to
>> understand
>> and personally integrate enough to just even be able to talk or write
>> about
>> it on a basic level.
>> And, if you're still reading this, thanks for taking the time to wade
>> through it.
>> Back to work. . .
>> Mary
> --
> "You can't do anything about the length of your life, but you can do
> something about its width and depth."

"You can't do anything about the length of your life, but you can do
something about its width and depth."

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