[Coral-List] Diver Distance et al

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Wed Aug 14 15:38:28 EDT 2013

   What I'm trying to grasp here is which aspects of the current coral reef
   conditions are not the direct result of human impacts? What exactly didn't
   we "break"?  Is most of what I'm seeing simply contributable to natural
   cyclical variations?

   It seems to me that what you have hit on reflects the significant fissure
   that exists between the perspectives of the organic sciences and geology as
   they relate to how we view the threats associated with climate change. If I
   am reading you correctly, you are suggesting that the use of our limited
   monetary and intellectual capital to "fix" effects which some of us are
   attributing to climate change are in fact wasteful because those efforts are
   in actuality more accurately characterized as attempts to reshape natural
   patterns that we just don't like . . . That exposes a fundamental difference
   in how we view things and also clearly illustrates the insurmountable nature
   of the divide.
   I continue to view the dynamics differently and believe there would be
   universal willingness to contribute limitless capital of all kinds if the
   potential undesirable impacts did not involve powerful economic interests
   with spirited political affiliations. It would not matter if the threat were
   "natural" or "human-induced".
   Take  for  instance  a  scenario whereby our planet is threatened by a
   potentially cataclysmic meteorite. There would likely be an immediate,
   internationally coordinated effort to disrupt its trajectory. All nations
   would work tirelessly to share their collective expertise in a frantic
   attempt to avert disaster. The US would be working hand in hand with China,
   Russia, India and even Iran. All economic and political considerations would
   be swept aside. But since climate change challenges the established economic
   and political hierarchy of all involved no such effort is forthcoming.
   That, and perhaps the fact that the impending impacts of climate change are
   more  insidious  in that there isn't a date certain for their ultimate
   consequences to take full effect.
   -----Original Message-----
   >From: Dennis Hubbard
   >Sent: Aug 14, 2013 8:23 AM
   >To: Steve Mussman
   >Cc: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" , Dennis Hubbard
   >Subject: Re: diver distance et al
   >Good  points.  My mention of major extinctions was just a segue to my
   discussion of how we separate human vs natural impacts. In his bio, Gene
   laments that our zeal for science is being usurped by our passion to manage.
   My  concern  here  is  that  we  have limited capital (both fiscal and
   intellectual)  and  we do not need to waste it "fixing" what we didn't
   "break". We have negatively impacted way too much to need to spend time
   trying to reshape natural patterns we just "don't like". The challenge is to
   figure out how to separate the two and what to do until we get better at
   that. I remember my first ISRS meeting vividly. I was like a kid in a candy
   store. I could easily bounce from a geo session to a seagrass session to one
   on ocean chemistry. What was missing were meaningful management sessions;
   NPS had just shifted from exclusion to management and too many scientists
   spurned management. The last meeting was dominated by a HUGE number of mgmt
   talks - so much so that bio, geo, other science sessions were literally
   blocks from each other. The result was too little interaction..... still a
   great meeting but.... Neither extreme is a good thing and we need to move
   the pendulum back to the middle.
   >Sent from my iPhone
   >On Aug 13, 2013, at 4:17 PM, Steve Mussman wrote:
   >> Dennis,
   >> Your analysis is spot on and I donât think that anyone would argue with
   your logic. The only point I would question is the assumption that some are
   too focused on human-induced effects and that somehow makes them appear less
   concerned about previous natural impacts that have occurred over geological
   time. Major extinctions of long ago arenât necessarily regarded as âOKâ, it
   is  just that their causes were not associated with human activity and
   therefore natural and unavoidable. We all question our omnipotence when
   considering the precise causes and appropriate mitigation strategies for the
   current coral reef crisis, but it appears certain that this time around we
   are  directly  involved. I think everyone is in agreement that even if
   present-day reef decline proves not to be a result of our âfavorite factorâ
   - cleaner air, water and healthier reefs are acceptable collateral results.
   Only problem is that it doesnât look like we are getting any closer to
   implementing  any meaningful mitigation strategies. We are too hung up
   arguing about the economic and esoteric costs associated with regulating
   carbon emissions and other harmful human-related behaviors. Perhaps it would
   be better if we were being threatened by a cataclysmic meteorite strike
   capable of initiating the planetâs sixth mass extinction. At least then we
   could say in retrospect that it wasn't OK, but we really couldn't have done
   much about it.
   >> Regards,
   >> Steve

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