[Coral-List] Science vs Science the Saga Continues

RainbowWarriorsInternational southern_caribbean at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 4 10:30:08 EDT 2013

As a mathematician I am often amused by warring factions of scientists debating over what constitute good economic footing for nature conservation.

The problem is that all economic theory, and with it a lot of soft sciences like social sciences, but also geology and archaeology do not employ the scientific method rigorously.

As a mathematician and modeling buff I can assure you that current economic theories are not sound, because we deal with a lot more than just supply and demand, and market values.

All current models, even those espoused by the WorldBank and
 IMF fail. Conflicts and threats, planetary boundaries and resilience are all factors not adequately modeled in current paradigms.

The European Union has launched a program based on foresight, forecasting, horizon scanning and impact
 assessment just to be better able to model medium and long term economic modelling and planning.

For the state-of-the-art see more info at:






As a mathematician I must stress the importance of having a sound understanding of information and uncertainty modeling, statistics, stochastic modeling and time series analysis when modeling very large systems.

Quantum effects, strange attractors and the inherent incompleteness of modeling as proven by Kurt Godel  and others, make it more of an art than hard science.

Sticking to hard science (the scientific method) and knowing your mathematical tools is a good start, but there is more to good science than just that.

Keeping an open mind and being able to spot and weed out bad ideas is what it takes, something not done by politicians who often decide the fate of program funding for science.

Milton Ponson, President
Rainbow Warriors Core Foundation
(Rainbow Warriors International)
Tel. +297 568 5908
PO Box 1154, Oranjestad 
Aruba, Dutch
Email: southern_caribbean at yahoo.com

To unite humanity in a global society dedicated to a sustainable way of life

 From: Peter Edwards <horlicks_1989 at yahoo.com>
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov 
Sent: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 11:53 AM
Subject: [Coral-List] Science vs Science the Saga Continues
Here we go again...
Thank you Chris Hawkins for your balanced contribution.
I will try not to spend too much time on this topic.  AGAIN (as per last years heated discussion on the validity non-market valuation of coral reefs)
It is indeed disappointing to see some of the comments below.  I could be wrong but some of what I have read suggests a real lack of understanding of  social sciences and economics.  Social Sciences as a sub branch of "Science" is a very wide discipline.  Most of the individuals who post in this forum and consider themselves social scientists, or economists are working for the same
 goals our fellow (natural) scientists are working on.  To better understand the ecosystem dynamics and drivers that impact/affect coral reef ecosystems and to come up with solutions to solve them. WE ARE ON THE SAME TEAM!!!! 
There seems to be a lot of distrust and mis-interpretation of who or what an economist is. Most of us who post here are probably best defined as environmental economists, one branch of the discipline.  Sure there are other Economists - who only work in classic macro economic models that tend to ignore negativeexternalities such as pollution etc.  However this is not so for environmental economists.  Social Science is also much more than Economics... there are Anthropological, Sociological and many other scientific approaches to collecting, analysing and interpreting data that can be - yes - "brought in to policy and decision making".  Attitudes, Perceptions, preferences have a direct impact on the
 natural resources we are trying to preserve and protect.
I'll end by stating that I found this quote very troubling coming from a fellow scientist... I am sorry but I have serious troubles in considering most branches of economics an hard science due to its many false assumptions, failed and missed predictions, disregard to very important obvious variables and  sort of implicit agenda. 
This quote sounds like something that should be coming from -- say for example a climate denier  --- in response to evidence presented to them based on results of interdisciplinary scientific work done over several years by a wide range of well meaning individuals working to solve a common problem..  In Psychology (another social science field) they might call this type of statement a demonstration of psychological projection. 
Perhaps this is an indication for us Environmental Economists need to draw on the skills from other
 disciplines to help us better communicate to our own scientific communities as well as the general public.
We need to work together not apart As scientists we can, and must do better..  Peter(Tropical Marine Ecologist AND Natural Resource Economist)
Peter E.T. Edwards PhDNatural Resource Economist and Social Science Coordinator Coral Reef Conservation Program IM Systems Group &  NOAA/Coral Reef Conservation Program
PLEAE NOTE: These views do not represent the official position of any company or agency that I might be associated with.  They are my own personal comments on the matter

Date: Wed, 3 Apr 2013 00:09:03 -0700
 (PDT)From: "frahome at yahoo.com" <frahome at yahoo.com>Subject: [Coral-List] Fw:  What agency should list coralsTo: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>Message-ID: <1364972943.14481.YahooMailNeo at web121302.mail.ne1.yahoo.com>Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1
What does maximizing social welfare means?
I think social scientists should focus on the concept of fundamental human needs, then work with the
 society, other scientists etc, on identifying and promoting ways to satisfy these fundamental needs, that have a minimal impact/ecological footprint. This is the opposite of what is being done nowadays by economists for example: fabricating needs and promoting resource intensive, dubious, to say the least, satisfiers. 
Social scientists should not forget to multiply by 9 billions (soon to come world population) the resources required by any of their identified social welfare or perception inclusion proposal to make it meaningful, fair and sustainable in the "medium-short term". 
Simply "making sure that (current) society's perceptions, preferences, attitudes, values etc. are brought into policy-making" sounds a somehow limited and static approach compared to the great role social scientists could play in finding a solutions to the problems of our days. 
Also the task is not really about managing resources or other species but is
 about managing human society and ourselves as a species.
An attempt to describing "fundamental human needs" that I find particularly interesting is the one developed by the economist Manfred Max-Neef. You can find a brief description here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_human_needsor best in his articles about "Human Scale Development":https://www.dropbox.com/s/nlow9x3k7lxuorh/2007-manfred-max-neef-fundamental-human-needs.pdfhttps://www.dropbox.com/s/v107a9kd7zfsi7n/Max-neef_Human_Scale_development.pdf
According to him "Fundamental human needs are constant through all human cultures and across historical time periods. What
 changes over time and between
 cultures is the strategies by which these needs are satisfied".
I call social scientists to work out better strategies then the one advertised nowadays.
PS. I am sorry but I have serious troubles in considering most branches of economics an hard science due to its many false assumptions, failed and missed predictions, disregard to very important obvious variables and sort of implicit agenda.. 

----- Forwarded Message -----From: Christopher Hawkins <chwkins at yahoo.com>To: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> Sent: Monday, April 1, 2013 9:33 PMSubject: 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 emails.

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 ServiceHonolulu

From: Pedro H. Rodr?guez phernanrod at yahoo.comSent: Thu Mar 28 14:38:40 EDT 2013Subject: 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 of sustainable resources. I see no conflict of interest. ?Pedro________________________________From: Quenton <qdokken at gulfmex..org>To: "'Szmant, Alina'" <szmanta at uncw.edu>; 'Pedro H. Rodr?guez' <phernanrod at yahoo.com>; coral-list at coral.aoml..noaa.gov Sent: Friday, March 29, 2013 12:22 AMSubject: 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 ofscience and certainly not the realities of the limits of nature.? Ineconomic and social science forums, rarely have I heard discussed the factthat there are very real limits to the level at which the naturalsystemsand resources can be impacted before the living resource and/or systemceases to function in a normal way, if at all.? The belief seems to be thatnatural habitats, wild populations, and the cycles of ecosystem dynamicscan be compromised infinitely to serve the needs and wants of humans. Thefact is that nature did not evolve in a manner to be sustainable under thevariety and quantity of insults and compromises that humans inflict.? Nor isnature geared to adapt on a human generational time scale.? Everyenvironmental issue we face today can be discussed in terms of lack ofunderstanding/acceptance of the fact that nature can
 only be compromised toa limited extent before it
fails. Our regulatory system of issuing permitsis 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 beaccess to natural resources to meet the needs and wantsof humans/society.? But, at some point planning and permitting must factorthe limits of nature into the model.? Nature does not take into account anindividual's or community's culture, history, religion, uniqueness, dreams,financial need, property rights, or any other purely human contrivance.. Inand of itself, nature is a perpetual motion machine.? Nature will functionjust fine until something or someone disrupts its cycles to a point that theengine stops.. Very clearly we can see the train coming at us and we don'tseem to be able to get off the track.? 
Quenton Dokken, Ph.D.President/CEOGulf of Mexico Foundation, Inc.
 office361-442-6064 cellqdokken at gulfmex.org
Office:3833 South StaplesSuite S214Corpus Christi,TX 78411
Mail: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, AlinaSent: Thursday, March 28, 2013 4:09 PMTo: Pedro H.. Rodr?guez; coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.govSubject: Re: [Coral-List] To Dennis Hubbard (What agency should list coralsunder the Endangered)
I think
 the biggest difference between the natural sciences and the socialsciences might be in our views of what is sustainable...? Many of usnaturalscientists think that the terms "sustainable development"? or "sustainableexploitation of resources"? are oxymorons!?? There is nothing sustainableabout human development or exploitation as long as human population growthis not halted and human population size is greatly reduced.
*************************************************************************Dr.. Alina M. SzmantProfessor of Marine BiologyCenter for Marine Science and Dept of Biology and Marine BiologyUniversity of North Carolina Wilmington5600 Marvin Moss LnWilmington NC 28409 USAtel:? 910-962-2362? fax: 910-962-2410? cell: 910-200-3913http://people.uncw..edu/szmanta*******************************************************
 Message-----From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Pedro H.Rodr?guezSent: Thursday, March 28, 2013 2:39 PMTo: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.govSubject: Re: [Coral-List] To Dennis Hubbard (What agency should list coralsunder the Endangered)
WE scientists? The social and eonomic scientists dealing withnatural-resource use apply the same scientific philosophy as you and me,Dennis, and their goal is to maximize social welfare under the constraint ofsustainable
 resources. I see no conflict of
 interest. ?Pedro_______________________________________________Coral-List mailinglistCoral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.govhttp://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailm
=====================================================================http://peteretedwards.ipower.com/index.html"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us".

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