[Coral-List] Help ban Oil Exploration

Greg Challenger gchallenger at msn.com
Thu May 5 14:47:34 EDT 2011

I don't decide where to drill and I would rather not drill anywhere if it were my decision (or possible).  I am mainly commenting on the technical accuracy in the expression "never recover".  If there are benefits to weigh, let's weigh them against an accurate portrayal of risks without letting our emotions play too much of a role. As scientists we are obligated to try to be accurate with our predictions of positives and negatives. I understand the best we can do is a range within which there will be disagreement.  However, there are a lot of data out there on oil and coral, including case histories, to help establish this range. I am also not the economist to comment on societal economic value. I know the Gulf states want the industry to stay despite the spill. I also know the oil industry hasn't done the people any good in other places like Nigeria.  I'd rather not see an offshore rig....but I don't live here alone and I do use energy.

Greg E. Challenger
Marine Scientist/Principal
Polaris Applied Sciences, Incorporated
12525 131st Ct NE Kirkland, WA 98034 
425-823-3805 fx 
206-369-5686 cell 
visit us at: www.polarisappliedsciences.com

> Date: Wed, 4 May 2011 16:55:57 -0400
> From: sealab at earthlink.net
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Subject: [Coral-List] Help ban Oil Exploration
> Greg,
> As you mentioned (and as recently demonstrated), Gene is more than capable
> of defending himself as is the thread’s initiator, Dr. Mattes.
> My interjection was meant to shift focus to the great value
> (both economic and aesthetic) that lies in safeguarding Belize’s coral
> reef ecosystem as that factor was being marginalized. Of course this 
> gets to the crux of the issue. Much of the polarization that we exemplify comes
> from contrasting values. It is not as Gene says that many of us “coral reefers”
> (I’m not sure Gene meant that as an endearment) instinctively hate or despise
> oil companies, but rather our values are prioritized in favor of conservation.
> Anyway, how exactly do we objectively appraise the value of preserving a coral
> reef when measuring that against the potential returns from a petroleum reserve
> lurking not far below in contiguous waters?
> You and Gene would not necessarily be wrong to choose to drill where we “coral reefers”
> fear it is not a risk worth taking, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to 
> reconcile our differences. We can't even seem to reach consensus on which anthropogenic 
> sources of ocean oil pollution should be defined as “disasters”.(Don’t they all contribute
> to the general degradation of marine ecosystems and thus at least approach that benchmark?) 
> As we all know, one man’s disaster can be another man’s economic opportunity.
> No need to get defensive about it, no one thinks that you pray for oil spills and
> certainly someone needs to provide the expertise to help mitigate the impact if one
> were to unfortunately occur. But if Gene and the “drillers” continues to focus on 
> drilling our way out of dependency on foreign sources of fuel, we will never put the
> emphasis where it should be; on the development of alternative energy sources.
> By the way, we will never be able to produce enough oil from domestic sources to drive 
> world market prices down because the supply side is simply growing too fast and we don't
> have the reserves necessary to overcome the effects of that surge.
> The paradigm simply needs to be shifted to where debates regarding environmental risk 
> assessments including the effects of dispersants on coral reefs are no longer relevant.
> Meanwhile we are about to get back into the political controversy surrounding drilling 
> in Alaskan waters all while Arctic ice is reportedly melting at unprecedented rates. 
> Somehow fiddling while Rome burns comes to mind.
> http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/02/business/energy-environment/02shell.html
> http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9N01Q600.htm
> Regards,
> Steve
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