[Coral-List] A World without Coral Reefs?

Dennis Hubbard dennis.hubbard at oberlin.edu
Sun Sep 1 12:31:36 EDT 2013

Steve raises an important point that I've been wrestling with for the past
five years or so every time I convene my *Biology, Geology and Politics of
Coral Reefs* course; at least one student has asked me this very question
every time I teach it.

If my understanding of the consensus is correct, even in the most
optimistic of scenarios (a 50% reduction of 1990 emissions levels by early
to mid century), we'll be seeing CO2 levels at least in the mid-400s and
then will probably not see numbers below that in the lifetime of our
youngest contributor.

I wouldn't advocate for just "facing reality" as this makes it too easy for
anyone to use this as an excuse to do nothing - and many of the proposed
measures will probably have at least collateral environmental benefits even
corals aren't among the recipients. So, I would ask a modified version of
Steve's question. If we do feel that reefs as we know (knew?) them are not
likely in the future, then 1) how do we either triage what to save (I argue
against this as it's the same hubris that got us to this point), or 2) how
do we determine a strategy that focuses on the things that are most likely
to be key ecological elements in the future (note, I use the word
"elements" in favor of "species" on purpose).

Just to make a wild projection.... we won't reach consensus.


On Sat, Aug 31, 2013 at 3:13 PM, Steve Mussman <sealab at earthlink.net> wrote:

>    Dear Listers,
>    I hate to put this out there, but I'm beginning to wonder if I've been
>    kidding myself.
>    I've been collaborating with others in an effort to urge the diving
> industry
>    to openly address the issue of local and global threats to coral reefs
>    including an honest assessment of the pending impacts of climate
> change. In
>    doing  so  I've  found  it necessary to tread carefully in that strong
>    resistance remains intact throughout the industry at just the mention
> of the
>    term climate change.
>    But that's not really my focus at this point. What I want to know is
> this:
>    Are efforts to forestall or mitigate the impacts of climate change on
> coral
>    reef ecosystems already past the point being practical? Are efforts like
>    last  year's  consensus  statement  from  the  ICRS  just based on the
>    institutional inertia of conservationists who value hope over truth and
>    scientists who can't see the reefs for the corals? Am I (are we)
> spreading
>    false beliefs and misdirecting efforts by persisting that coral reefs
> have a
>    future rather than urging that we begin to address the greater fallout
> from
>    their inevitable collapse?
>    I'm honestly beginning to wonder.
>    Regards,
>     Steve
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Dennis Hubbard
Chair, 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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