[Coral-List] What agency should list corals

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Wed Apr 3 08:50:36 EDT 2013

   Without casting aspersions, it doesnât take a devine stone tablet to realize
   that there are very real limits to the level at which natural systems and
   resources can be impacted before . . . the system ceases to function in a
   normal way, if at all. 

   How can we manage ecological systems like coral reefs in a responsible way
   when a societyâs goals, preferences and values are seemingly in conflict
   with this obvious reality?

   For sure we need a better strategy than to just continue to develop policies
   that reflect a societyâs attitudes when both social and biological sciences
   are revealing that preserving such a non-interventionist approach will
   inevitably lead to an environmental catastrophe.


   -----Original Message-----
   >From: Christopher Hawkins
   >Sent: Apr 2, 2013 3:39 PM
   >To: Martin Moe , "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov"
   >Subject: Re: [Coral-List] What agency should list corals
   >Political change is enacted through all sorts of vehicles. Advocacy mostly.
   Sometimes  advocacy  is  underpinned  by  good  science (social and/or
   biophysical). Sometimes it's underpinned by a very biased agenda.
   >When you say that social science includes social interactions such as
   religion and tyranny, I fear you may not have a good understanding of what
   social science entails. I may be wrong. Now, if you are talking about a
   study (for example) of which factors best explain how several of the world's
   prominent religions approach managing nature, and you asked me to select an
   appropriate  theoretical  framework  to  ground  the study, identify a
   representative  sample  of pastors, priests, imams, etc. to interview,
   identify the most appropriate subsets of the religions in question, and
   determine adequate sample size for the statistical analysis of the interview
   or  survey questions...well, now you are starting to talk about social
   *science*. But if you are simply talking about religions or tyranny, well,
   those are simply social things. Not the rigorous study of those things..
   >I  can talk about coral all day long. But until I start talking about
   understanding  a reef or species on that reef using biological theory,
   accepted  field  or  lab  methods, and appropriate stats that speak to
   hypotheses,  I  can't really say I'm talking science. Same with social
   >Yes, people are complacent. And I have my doubts that we will overcome the
   socio-political agendas that constrain immediate action on issues such as
   global climate change anytime soon (if ever). If you want to know *why*
   people are complacent in the face of such evidence in order that you may
   then  determine  what  type  of  communication  might help reduce that
   complacency,  then  tap  a  social scientist (or, better yet, read the
   literature that has already been produced...this is not an uncommon topic
   for social psychologists). Ecological scientists are not equipped to design
   studies to answer this type of question. Just as you wouldn't turn to a
   social scientist to undertake research into what underpins how fish might
   distribute themselves in an estuary.
   >Most ecosystems are coupled: their condition is a result of both human and
   natural  influences. And their desired condition is a question of what
   ecosystem  does society want with what costs and trade-off? That is an
   important  foundational  question that we often overlook. Our research
   paradigms should start reflecting this on a wider scale.
   > From: Martin Moe
   >To: Christopher Hawkins ; "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov"
   >Sent: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 2:54 AM
   >Subject: Re: [Coral-List] What agency should list corals
   >Youâre right, social science is very important, after all, it
   >is  through social science that change is enacted. And social science
   >all  forms  of  social  interactions that result in governance of our
   >autocracy, religious rule, dictatorship, the tyranny of royalty, and the
   >relative individual freedom offered in a functional democracy. Social
   >gives us the insight to know how our democracy is working and where it can
   >improved. But people are complacent, reluctant to act when things are
   >apparently going well and the future is far off. Our cars these days have
   >little light that says âcheck engine soonâ when things are not quite right
   >the potential of disaster is lurking in the mysterious innards of the
   >But âsoonâ is not today and we usually become accustomed to that little
   >and often donât find the time to attend to it until the engine demands that
   >do so. I think that some of us even though we appreciate the importance of
   >social  science  in the workings of our democracy think that somehow,
   someway, we
   >should find a way to work together to hook up the horn to that little
   warning light. Scientists of all persuasions are well equipped to understand
   the implications
   >of that little light; we just need to find the right way to make the horn
   >as well.
   > From: Christopher Hawkins
   >To: "coral-list at coral.aoml..noaa.gov"
   >Sent: Monday, April 1, 2013 3:33 PM
   >Subject: Re: [Coral-List] What agency should list corals
   >It is disappointing to see some seemingly very intelligent folks post some
   of these remarks.
   >I have participated in a number of natural resource social science forums
   as well, so a I am quite confused with the statements made in this string of
   >I will re-iterate that whether you are biological scientist or a social
   scientist, you are a *scientist*, and therefore (typically) interested in
   understanding  the phenomena in a reliable, valid, representative, and
   generalizable way. As a human dimensions specialist, I am charged with
   making sure that society's perceptions, preferences, attitudes, values etc.
   are brought into policy-making in a rigorous and objective way. I am not
   sure how that all of a sudden becomes me ignoring that there are "very real
   limits  to the level at which the natural systems and resources can be
   impacted before the living resource and/or system ceases to function in a
   normal way, if at all.
   > Of course there are, and every social scientist worthy of the title would
   agree. Throwing that statement  out there re-enforces a misguided stereotype
   and confuses one profession with another. For what purpose, I'm not sure.
   >Managing  nature  resources  is as much a social endeavor as it is an
   ecological  one. The goals, objectives, and reasons we manage areas or
   species are derived from society: the last time I looked there was no divine
   stone tablet telling us how these places, animals, plants, and habitats
   should look.. Attempting to manage such resources without solid social
   science would be as silly and inadvisable as attempting to manage them
   without solid ecological science.
   >Christopher Hawkins, Ph.D.
   >Fisheries Social Scientist
   >University of Hawaii/NOAA Fisheries Service
   >From: Quenton
   >To:     "'Szmant,     Alina'"    ;    'Pedro    H.    RodrÃguez'    ;
   coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
   >Sent: Friday, March 29, 2013 12:22 AM
   >Subject: Re: [Coral-List] To Dennis Hubbard (What agency should list corals
   under the Endangered)
   >Good Day All;
   >Social and economic practice do not necessarily follow the constructs of
   >science and certainly not the realities of the limits of nature.  In
   >economic and social science forums, rarely have I heard discussed the fact
   >that there are very real limits to the level at which the natural
   > systems
   >and resources can be impacted before the living resource and/or system
   >ceases to function in a normal way, if at all.  The belief seems to be that
   >natural habitats, wild populations, and the cycles of ecosystem dynamics
   >can be compromised infinitely to serve the needs and wants of humans. The
   >fact is that nature did not evolve in a manner to be sustainable under the
   >variety and quantity of insults and compromises that humans inflict.  Nor
   >nature geared to adapt on a human generational time scale.  Every
   >environmental issue we face today can be discussed in terms of lack of
   >understanding/acceptance of the fact that nature can only be compromised to
   >a limited extent before it fails. Our regulatory system of issuing permits
   >is based on the belief that nature can be compromised infinitely.  Yes,
   >society must have jobs and business opportunities to exist and flourish.
   >Yes, there must be
   > access to natural resources to meet the needs and wants
   >of humans/society.  But, at some point planning and permitting must factor
   >the limits of nature into the model.  Nature does not take into account an
   >individual's or community's culture, history, religion, uniqueness, dreams,
   >financial need, property rights, or any other purely human contrivance. In
   >and of itself, nature is a perpetual motion machine.  Nature will function
   >just fine until something or someone disrupts its cycles to a point that
   >engine stops. Very clearly we can see the train coming at us and we don't
   >seem to be able to get off the track.
   >Quenton Dokken, Ph.D.
   >Gulf of Mexico Foundation, Inc.
   >361-882-3939 office
   >361-442-6064 cell
   >qdokken at gulfmex.org
   >3833 South Staples
   >Suite S214
   >Corpus Christi,
   > TX 78411
   >PMB 51
   >5403 Everhart Rd.
   >Corpus Christi, TX 78411
   >-----Original Message-----
   >From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
   >[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Szmant, Alina
   >Sent: Thursday, March 28, 2013 4:09 PM
   >To: Pedro H.. RodrÃguez; coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
   >Subject: Re: [Coral-List] To Dennis Hubbard (What agency should list corals
   >under the Endangered)
   >I think the biggest difference between the natural sciences and the social
   >sciences might be in our views of what is sustainable....  Many of us
   > natural
   >scientists think that the terms "sustainable development"  or "sustainable
   >exploitation of resources"  are oxymorons!   There is nothing sustainable
   >about human development or exploitation as long as human population growth
   >is not halted and human population size is greatly reduced.
   >Dr. Alina M. Szmant
   >Professor of Marine Biology
   >Center for Marine Science and Dept of Biology and Marine Biology
   >University of North Carolina Wilmington
   >5600 Marvin Moss Ln
   >Wilmington NC 28409 USA
   >tel:  910-962-2362  fax: 910-962-2410  cell: 910-200-3913
   >-----Original Message-----
   >From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
   >[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Pedro H.
   >Sent: Thursday, March 28, 2013 2:39 PM
   >To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
   >Subject: Re: [Coral-List] To Dennis Hubbard (What agency should list corals
   >under the Endangered)
   >WE scientists? The social and eonomic scientists dealing with
   >natural-resource use apply the same scientific philosophy as you and me,
   >Dennis, and their goal is to maximize social welfare under the constraint
   >sustainable resources. I see no conflict of interest.
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