[Coral-List] Rau, McLeod and Hoegh-Guldberg and ensuing discussion

Douglas Fenner douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
Tue Sep 4 15:52:09 EDT 2012

I completely agree, and really appreciate your clear presentation of this
problem.  We have to keep the two separate, to keep from having our
enthusiasm for protecting the environment come to bias our presentation of
the scientific facts.  On the other hand, if no one connects the dots that
lead from the scientific facts to what the effects will be or how to avoid
effects we don't want, then the science has done society no good.

Cheers,  Doug

On Tue, Sep 4, 2012 at 3:29 AM, Peter Sale <sale at uwindsor.ca> wrote:

> Hi,
> I just finished reading Denny Hubbard's reflections on how he, as a reef
> scientist, is dealing with the likely CC and OA impacts on reefs
> worldwide.  I had got to Coral-List right after reading Rau, McLeod and
> Hoegh-Guldberg, and an editorial, "Clarion Call", in the same issue of
> Nature Climate Change that suggested it might now be time for the science
> community to become less reticent about articulating the risks of not
> making intelligent decisions re Climate Change.  In fact, the editorial
> stated, quite clearly, that the science community should advocate for
> radical action on climate change.  Rau et al, in a 'perspective' article,
> do take a clear position on the need to investigate novel ways of dealing
> with the effects of climate change on marine systems.
> I've done this reading in the middle of a discussion with several
> co-authors on the degree to which we should advocate in the paper we are
> now writing on the general issue of global change impacts on tropical
> marine ecosystems and their provision of goods and services to coastal
> human communities.  The opinions within our group range from 'science must
> be dispassionate and objectively report the data' to 'it is way past time
> to tell it like it is'.
> My gut tells me the latter view is correct, but I also worry that we not
> reduce expert science evidence to the level of 'just another opinion'.  (I
> also want to see our manuscript published!) More generally, I think the
> big question for the coral reef science community has to be, "How do we
> report our science objectively and dispassionately while still being able
> to express our considered opinions carefully yet explicitly?"  This is a
> large part of the issue that Denny Hubbard is struggling with, and its one
> many of us struggle with.  My own belief is that it should be possible to
> structure manuscripts, presentations and formal testimony with clearly
> separated sections: 1) Here is the science, and my objective evaluation of
> the data, including conclusions logically drawn, 2) Here is my informed
> opinion/recommendation based on my analysis, and my broader knowledge of
> the topic.  So long as these two sections are kept separate, we should be
> able to maintain our integrity as scientists, while still conveying our
> opinions/recommendations to policy-makers and the public.
> I'd be interested in what others think.  Given the increasingly dim
> prospects for coral reefs surviving the Anthropocene, those of us who are
> not automatons (nearly all, I hope) have a pressing need to help find an
> effective way forward.
> Peter Sale
> Peter F. Sale
> Assistant Director
> United Nations University
> Institute for Water, Environment and Health
> www.uwindsor.ca/sale           www.petersalebooks.com
> UNU-INWEH  The United Nations Think Tank on Water
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