[Coral-List] Value of Hawaiian Reefs - why cant we all just get along?

Juergen Herler juergen.herler at univie.ac.at
Tue Nov 22 04:54:37 EST 2011

Dear listers, dear Peter!

I doubt that we can get around talking about values in general if we want
to establish a useful valuation system. And why considering the monetary
value system as the most appropriate one? Having only 2 to 3% of the cash
sum being covered by real values, I would consider this unsustainable
system - in which values are just “printed on demand” - as inappropriate
for establishing a sustainable valuation for ecosystems. However it may be
a good start, before it is too late for everything, but it must not be the
final aim. I think Ulf Erlingsson’s suggestion is a much better approach.
And why consider a valuation useful, when it asks for how much money
people would spend on something when people know they actually don’t have
to give it away but still can buy the next-generation flat-screen with it?
Would be more interesting to look at the result when people have to
exchange their values, which seems not only feasible but even necessary in
the future, let’s say live without a car, eat much less meat and certain
sea food and try to make a living at 30% of the current energy consumption
level but retain primary forests, coral reefs, etc. and have their
services available for longer than a few more decades. I wonder whether
somebody would dare to make such a survey and take the risk of ending up
in deep frustration. The best thing that may turn out is that people just
do not know about their dependence on ecosystem services, the worst thing
would be that they know about it, but do not value it.
But maybe I am just one of these fools who still have a too romantic view
of nature (and still have troubles to become familiar with the idea of
diving above and doing research in algal mats instead of coral reefs).
However, it is for sure less damaging than a too economic view of it. But
it is definitely correct that we, since we are all in the same boat,
should spend less energy for endless discussions and for blaiming people
for putting “useless” actions. We need this energy not only for uniting
disciplines and developing a reasonable philosophy and methodology for
valuation (which is maybe out there, but not yet applied) but especially
for changing our behavior to match it with our knowlegde. So the
“better-educated” people will be challenged most and are supposed to be
the first, and others will (probably) follow!?

Best wishes

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Peter Edwards [mailto:horlicks_1989 at yahoo.com]
> Sent: Friday, November 18, 2011 03:43 PM
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
> Subject: [Coral-List] Value of Hawaiian Reefs - why cant we all just
> get	along? :-)
> Hello Coral-Listers,
> I will try not to be-labor the point, and I am pretty sure that the
> "pure" coral reef biologists, oceanographers, et al will soon chime in
> to let us know this topic is not "science-y" enough.? And that all this
> nonsense about people's preferences, values etc has little or nothing to
> do with coral reefs (chuckle).
> But to I'd like to refer to Gene's last email and others of a similar
> "strain"....
> There will always be debate among and within disciplines.? This should be
> encouraged as different points of view help to move science and human
> knowledge forward.? However I believe that we will continue to witness
> the decline of precious and "invaluable" resources such as coral reefs,
> mangrove forests, sea
> grass beds etc if we continue to remain entrenched in our camps.?
> Dismissive comments and generalizations about a discipline that people
> may have little understanding about is not helpful.? If we (natural and
> social) scientists learned to "speak" to each other perhaps we would be
> more successful at finding solutions to conservation.? Again I am
> speaking as an individual who has come from a foundation of biology,
> coral reef ecology who recognized the need for integrating social
> sciences including neo-classical micro economic theory as part of my
> tool-kit.? This has helped me better understand issues of efficient
> allocation of resources and open my eyes to possible solutions for
> reducing pollution and environmental degradation.?
> I get the strong sense from some of the comments that there is the
> suspicion that by conducting these types of studies the results will be
> "hijacked" by business interests who want to privatize, sell off, steal
> these resources. Well I am sorry to say...."News
> Flash...this just in"...it is already happening.? What this discipline
> and these approaches try to do is find solutions to ensure that these
> resources get the respect they deserve and are not completely
> obliterated from the planet. Message:? WE ARE ON THE SAME TEAM!!!
> I urge some of you with deeply ingrained philosophical biases to try to
> be a little more open minded and read a little wider.? Instead of just
> cherry picking articles against this discipline, look for some balanced
> articles.? There are indeed pros and cons to these approaches.? I would
> hate to think that scientists such as ourselves are just as entrenched
> as the political and religious extremists you know that anti-anything-we
> don't understand-
> folks that seem to dominate the news and political discourse these days.
> Nuff Said
> Peter Edwards
> The views and comments expressed here do not reflect the official position
> of any organization I may be employed to or affiliated with

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