[Coral-List] Imperfect helpful 60 Minutes

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Wed Dec 21 07:45:00 EST 2011

I share Steve's perspective regarding the imperfect,yet helpful
virtues of the 60 Minutes piece. We certainly need to find more
ways to raise public awareness and just the exposure that Anderson
Cooper provided is constructive to this end. The questions I posed 
were not meant to be critical, but were an attempt to determine 
if the experts in the marine sciences are in agreement regarding 
the credibility of the statistics cited. The more significant point
was to try and ascertain if coral reef sustainability strategies are
becoming inherently overshadowed by the magnitude of threats posed 
by climate change and ocean acidification. 

I am all for promoting more ecologically oriented advances in 
"sustainable tourism", but I want to know if this approach can 
perhaps cause us to lose sight of the bigger danger. I believe it 
is reasonable to consider that we can manage reefs fastidiously and 
still get blindsided by a greater peril. No doubt we should strive to promote sustainability energetically, but will even the best managed
reefs be adequately protected from plight if CO2 levels are not 
effectively confronted?

Perhaps this is a question that we are not ready or capable of 
answering definitively, yet it is one that looms large. In the
spirit of the holidays, I'm hoping that coral reefs prove capable
of adapting to imminent change and all coral listers have a happy
and healthy new year. 

  Steve Mussman  

-----Original Message-----
>From: Stephen Palumbi <spalumbi at stanford.edu>
>Sent: Dec 20, 2011 11:23 AM
>To: Steve Mussman <sealab at earthlink.net>
>Cc: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
>Subject: Imperfect helpful 60 Minutes
>Steve's query and John Bruno's blog - along with Randy Olsen's critique 
>and various replies - have underplayed the value of the 60 Minutes 
>piece. Millions of people who only get their information from television 
>sets now have an impression that somebody found a reef worth fighting 
>for and that there is some hope for it because of local protection, a 
>reduction in fishing and the abundance of wildlife. I agree with Randy 
>that this was tedious story telling - but my Dad watched it and wanted 
>to know if it was true. And he didn't want to know if coral cover had 
>increased over the Caribbean average (as he would have if this was a 
>stock transaction and the stock didn't meet S&P standards). He basically 
>wanted to know if there was any hope for this one tiny bit of live rock 
>in a place he will never go. Then there was another football game coming 
>on, and whatever impact 60 Min had had was finished.
>Since that is over now, our question to ourselves is how we take 
>advantage of such an opportunity. Telling better stores (certainly). 
>Figuring out if local protections are helping (obviously). Helping turn 
>the world away from a CO2 addiction (long term). Figuring out the 
>nuances of impacts of multiple stressors on reefs and how corals respond 
>and adapt to them (yes, but these are jobs we do among ourselves to 
>produce understanding and maybe hopefully to produce sustainability 
>tools). But mostly we have in our power to open up the gates and show 
>people all over the world the beauty and power of wild and healthy reefs 
>where ever we manage to find them, and build an emotional connection to 
>protecting the world's life.
>So if Anderson Cooper ever calls you to go on another reef trip, please 
>take him along, and do another one of these imperfect, helpful pieces.
>Steve Palumbi

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