[Coral-List] THE NEXT66

Phil Dustan dustanp at cofc.edu
Sat Dec 8 11:01:50 EST 2012

Dear Listers,
 With all the talk about the *NEXT66* species (sort of like the Chicago 7?)
I'd like to add the following into the debate:

    Two very remarkable events occurred on December 7 that were separated
by about 30 years: Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941 which began the
US involvement in WW2 and astronaut Jack Schmidt photographed the earth
from space on his way to the moon onboard Apollo 17. Both offer insight
into the debate about the *Next 66* which will morph into the *Next128*
 then *1000,*  then the ocean will be declared off limits. Astronaut
Schmidt's photograph, taken while under instructions not to take pictures
by NASA, revolutionized the way we regard out planet. Some suggest it began
the Age of Ecology while others have seen the Blue Marble as a photographic
manifesto for global justice. Whatever your preference, the photo remains
the most widely printed (used) photograph ever taken - and probably the
most influential for humankind.

So now we come to WW2. The United States along with its allies was faced
with fighting two major wars that threatened our very existence. We
mobilized and backed our fears with a whopping 53% of GDP contributing to
the war effort. Luckily, this was enough to do the job and we owe a great
debt of gratitude to those who gave more with the currency of their lives.
The country and its allies did what it took to get the job done.

 We are now facing another type of global threat that is going to take
human civilization down a long long hard miserable path. In fact it already
has. Our beloved reefs are just some of the beginning indicators of what's
in store for humanity. If we want to get serious about the imminent threat
we are going to have to roll our sleeves up and fight the real battle.
Right now we are just playing. Government programs are watching,
monitoring, probing to figure out the mechanisms when we pretty much have
identified the threats and know the causes. The NOAA budget for coral reef
related programs has ballooned along with their jurisdiction - but the
reefs are still dying. We have "protected" the Florida Keys with a
"Sanctuary" but the reefs now have about 1-2% of the living coral they had
in 1975 when the first NOAA sanctuary began in Key Largo. Today, as I write
this, there is a massive coral disease outbreak on Kauai which appears to
mirror what happened in the Florida Keys. Monitoring has satisfied the
legal regulations, helped to ease people's fears ('cause we got our finger
on the pulse so to speak), and made the scientists happy with their grants
to study the issue. BUT THE REEFS ARE STILL DYING.

No matter how many of the species we claim to protect, until we commit some
real effort to the local, regional, and global issues the reefs will
continue to die. Conservatively, it will probably take two or more times
the level of commitment we made in WW2 to begin to turn the problem around.
Anything else is child's play and done to help us placate our collective
political conscience. You can protect more by listing them on lists which
will probably hinder rather than help obtain a deeper understanding of the
problems - but the paperwork will be "minimal" we are told. But its not
enough to even say we have started to get a handle on the problem on this
December 7, 2012. At this point its all pretty much a very sad joke with a
lot of money being spent by well-intending persons to measure and map
the disappearance of reefs, rainforests, species, fish, and any other
aspect of nature you want to name! The global predictions have already
revealed that temperature rise and ocean acidification are going to
increase if  we continue continuing......along with the human population.

So we need to do more, and more and more. We need to start by really using
the knowledge we have about the problem at effort levels that
will actually accomplish something.   But as so many of your have said over
the years - its not just reefs and its not just monitoring, or listing, or
 the things we do as scientists. "It's the Blue Marble stupid" and thanks
to Astronaut Schmidt for  making that so apparent some many years ago.  We
Earthlings need to get it through our thick, politically protected skulls
that the Long Term Really Has No Price...  just like WW2.
Think about it when New Years Resolution time rolls around.

Happy Holidays,

PS- Check out EOS, Vol 93:49 4 Dec 2012 for the Blue Marble story.

Phillip Dustan
Department of Biology
College of Charleston
Charleston SC  20401
Charleston SC
843 953 8086 (voice)
843-224-3321 (m)

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