[Coral-List] Gene Shinn's Comments on Economic Valuation and market based conservation

booth booth at easternct.edu
Fri Aug 12 13:18:39 EDT 2011

I enjoyed immensely Gene Shinn¹s history lesson on the Florida Keys (and
Alina Zymant¹s follow-up, as well), but I have to take issue with his
comment that ³major coral mortality began back when leading scientists were
predicting global cooling.²  The notion that there was anything resembling a
scientific consensus that global cooling, or another ice age, were imminent
in the 1970s is a popular myth that has been refuted by various authors
(e.g.,Peterson et al. 2008, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society,
September; http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/2008BAMS2370.1;
Connelley, W. 2005, RealClimate.org;
h/ and http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/iceage/; Weart, S.  2011;
http://www.aip.org/history/climate/cycles.htm). Dr. Shinn also seems to
imply that ocean acidification is a new phenomenon and so couldn¹t possibly
contribute to coral mortality in the late 70s and early 80s.  However, the
recent time series study by Dore et al., 2009 (PNAS 106: 12235-12240;
http://www.pnas.org/content/106/30/12235) for the central North Pacific near
Hawaii documents with great precision ³... a significant long-term
decreasing trend ... in surface pH, which is indistinguishable from the rate
of acidification expected from equilibration with the atmosphere. ³  Their
data go back to 1988, and extrapolating that trend back in time suggests
that ocean surface pH had already declined by 0.1 unit due to the documented
rise in atmospheric CO2 level since pre-industrial times (Brewer, 2009, PNAS
106: 12213-12214; http://www.pnas.org/content/106/30/12213.full).  I will
leave it to the experts to determine if ocean acidification has had, or is
currently having, an negative impact on corals and coral reefs. However, it
is becoming increasingly clear that ocean acidification has been occurring
for several decades in parallel with the rising pCO2 in the atmosphere and
ocean surface water.

Chuck Booth

Dr. Charles E. Booth
Professor of Biology
Department of Biology
Eastern Connecticut State University
Willimantic, CT  06226

Ph: 860-465-5260
FAX: 860-465-5213
Email: booth at easternct.edu


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