[Coral-List] Rau, McLeod and Hoegh-Guldberg outline strategies to brace for impact in the face

Dennis Hubbard dennis.hubbard at oberlin.edu
Mon Sep 3 13:27:52 EDT 2012

I agree on all points, but am troubled by singling out geologists -
especially after following a long thread about an article (I believe by an
evolutionary biologist) who stated that we're all deluding ourselves if we
think we can make a difference). I'm not sure that these acid remarks are
particularly helpful on either side.

I must admit that I think aloud about these things differently quite
depending on the audience. With my students, I can take a more measured
approach, knowing that they will be able to put things into a realistic
context. Thus, I commonly comment that the most optimistic scenarios (the
British one where we leveled out omissions 12 years ago) have us leveling
out at ca 500 on CO2. So..... organizations like 350.org may already have
to think about their names - and we need to start thinking in a longer-term
scenario. My hardest job as an educator is to move students away from easy
and idealistic answers (especially when social justice comes in) while not
destroying their sense of hope. On the other end of the spectrum, it scares
me to death when I see gaps in *Acropora* in the Holocene record and think
of all those nay-sayers who will say, "see, it's happened before and it's
just the latest iteration of a recurring event".

So.... the reality is that the difficult truth comes somewhere in the
middle. And, as long as we're afraid to face difficult realities about the
future - or are so pessimistic that we can't take any actions, we're going
to be mired in our very non-scientific positions about what is right and
what is not. Labeling positions as wrong because an opposing one seems
self-evident is one of the reasons we get into so much trouble with
arguments over evolution - and it's a lot of the same people on either side
in both discussions. The scientific reality, at least to me, is that the
evidence weighs in favor of those who might argue that the reefs are toast.
However, I will still take the personal position opposing those who would
argue that dealing with climate change is too costly until we have
slam-dunk proof or causes and attendant solutions. I would argue that not
doing anything is potentially so costly that, until we have proven that
climate change is *not* a problem that demands immediate response, we can't
afford not to act in the most prudent way. My students ask me what we can
do given the arguments among scientists over what will work and what is a
waste of time (and, both sides can't be wrong). I tell them that, until we
know the answers, we can still do things that have positive collateral
benefits. IF.... we recuce nitrogen, sediment, etc. in the water and reduce
atmospheric pollutants (including CO2) and it turns out that the whole
ocean acidification argument was totally flawed, I won't feel particularly
bad having to say, "Hey, the reefs were fin e all along and the water and
air are much clearer now.... gee, don't I feel stupid!!"

As for what to tell divers and snorkelers.... tell them not to feel guilty
that they might unintentionally be part of the problem. Tell them that
rather than feeling guilty - to take responsibility. Not standing on the
corals is easy. Not taking home a souvenir - check. More important though,
share their excitement with those who don't have their passions for reefs.
But, warn them that the guy who just lost his job might not be as excited
as them.... and they need to respect that. I've given up trying to answer
my student's questions about how bad a world without reefs might be
relative to other equally negative scenarios - because I really don't know
the answer. So, I just have to be a cheer-leader when can't be a coach.

Keeping my fingers crossed,

Dennis Hubbard

On Sat, Sep 1, 2012 at 11:25 AM, Steve Mussman <sealab at earthlink.net> wrote:

> Jessica,
>  As a PADI Dive Master and concerned citizen you can certainly
> make a difference through effectively communicating your concerns
> with other divers. It has been my experience that the recreational
> diving industry does not believe that taking a direct approach to
> addressing rising atmospheric CO2 levels and climate change is in
> it’s best interest regardless of the threats these factors hold for
> our coral reefs and other marine ecosystems. You can certainly
> encourage divers to help in evaluating even unconventional marine
> management strategies to deal with these issues, but I don’t believe
> the authors of the article were necessarily advocating that we abandon
> all hope in dealing with the core problem of stabilizing and/or reducing
> atmospheric CO2 levels. In truth, there are still too many divers and
> non-divers (and geologists?) that just don’t accept the fact
> that a problem exists.
> Regards,
>  Steve
> -----Original Message-----
> >From: "Reese, Jessica" <Jessica.Reese at CZS.org>
> >Sent: Aug 30, 2012 12:41 PM
> >To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> >Subject: [Coral-List] Rau,     McLeod and Hoegh-Guldberg outline
> strategies to brace for impact in     the face
> >
> >Coral Listers,
> >
> >
> >
> >Mother Jones ran an article, today, about a recently published
> >open-access paper by Rau, McLeod, and Hoegh-Guldberg (2012) entitled The
> >need for new ocean conservation strategies in a high-carbon dioxide
> >world. The popular press article can be accessed here:
> >http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/08/crazy-ideas-coral-reefs
> >
> >
> >
> >The Mother Jones article, unwisely, presents the ideas as "crazy", and
> >even goes so far as to picture tube sponges being sheltered from thermal
> >stress by beach umbrellas.  The open access article, however does not
> >strike me as crazy at all. It's a call to action for the scientific
> >community to look to new management and conservation strategies, for the
> >evaluation of their success, followed by policies to support those
> >silver bullets when and if they become identified. The open-access paper
> >can be accessed here:
> >http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate1555.h
> >tml
> >
> >
> >
> >As zoo educator who is well-versed in the science of climate change and
> >coral reefs, and a passionate PADI Dive Master, I worry constantly about
> >how these ecosystems will survive. Since December 2009, it has become
> >abundantly clear to me that we are pitifully off-course to stabilize or
> >adequately mitigate our global CO2 concentrations. Yet, divers, all over
> >the world continue to enjoy these resources, often without any education
> >about what stressors they are facing. Do you, the coral scientific
> >community see a role for the recreational diver to engage in citizen
> >science action to help these ecosystems brace for impact and support
> >their resilience? The strategies that are recommended in the paper
> >suggest possibilities such as using shade cloths to reduce thermal
> >stress, electrical currents to reduce bleaching and encourage growth,
> >selective breeding for heat tolerance, and managing chemistry by adding
> >carbonates, silicates, and dissolved bicarbonates sound like exciting
> >possibilities and inspire me to join in to help in any way that I can.
> >While many of these experiments will be done in a lab, there may be
> >cause to try some in the field, which sounds very labor intensive.
> >Please let me know if you need any assistance in following Rau, McLeod,
> >and Hoegh-Gulberg's recommendations. I would love to get recreational
> >divers involved in the process of building resilience.
> >
> >
> >
> >Best Fishes, <))))><
> >
> >
> >
> >Jess Reese
> >
> >Interpretive Programs Coordinator
> >
> >Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo
> >
> >3300 Golf Rd.
> >
> >Brookfield, IL 60513
> >
> >Direct Phone (708) 688-8861
> >
> >
> >
> >_______________________________________________
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> >Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> >http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
> _______________________________________________
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Dennis Hubbard
Dept of Geology-Oberlin College Oberlin OH 44074
(440) 775-8346

* "When you get on the wrong train.... every stop is the wrong stop"*
 Benjamin Stein: "*Ludes, A Ballad of the Drug and the Dream*"

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