[Coral-List] The frustration of environmentalism vacillation. Vol 68, Issue 12

Szmant, Alina szmanta at uncw.edu
Tue Apr 15 09:52:57 EDT 2014

Amen.  It is indeed frustrating every time I read in the newspaper an article about CO2 rising faster than predicted and in spite of supposed efforts to reduce emissions.  But without doing something about the 250,000 people born each minute (a new small city per minute) it is hopeless.

Mr. Dugger suggests that it would take centuries to reduce the size of the human population back to 2 billion.  But in the recent book "Life on the Brink", several chapters on solutions suggest measures that could do it in a few decades (which might be too late) if only action of certain types started right away.  (http://populationpress.org/2013/05/13/book-review-life-on-the-brink-environmentalists-confront-overpopulation/ is a link to a review of this book).  The reason I keep pushing this book is because it is made up of 24 short essays that even people with short attention spans and non-technical background can read in less than 30 minutes and get the point...over and over again.  Check it out.

Chapter 8 in this book titled "Beyond Futility" by Tim Palmer, gives an example of what Mr. Dugger writes about:  every time we think we have won a battle of sorts, saved a river, established a new MPA, human population growth overcomes the games and we are worse off that when we started.

I for one am thinking of withdrawing all of my financial support for the various environmental NGOs that I support with my monthly donations unless they add doing something about control of human population to the top of their agenda.  The new Showtime documentary about climate that is getting so much attention "Years of Living Dangerously" explores in inter-twinned story lines the droughts in the US southwest (affecting cattle ranchers and slaughter houses), the destruction of Indonesian rainforests for the development of more palm oil plantations, and the conflict in Syria that fundamentally is triggered by lack of resources with religious/ethnic differences the scape goat.  No time in the one hour documentary is human crowding and overpopulation mentioned by any of the famous actors or local protagonists.  Apparently, Climate change is just happening because of people, but the idea that too many people is the cause rather than just people didn't make the cut of the script.

If you care about coral reefs, as well as other wild things, this should become your number one priority.  All the other problems making headlines on Coral-List are down in the weeds.

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." Eleanor Roosevelt

"The time is always right to do what is right"  Martin Luther King

Dr. Alina M. Szmant
Professor of Marine Biology
AAUS Scientific Diving Lifetime Achievement Awardee
Center for Marine Science
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 Durwood M. Dugger
Sent: Monday, April 14, 2014 2:46 PM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] The frustration of environmentalism vacillation. Vol 68, Issue 12

Gene's point of long term solutions and any potential results in preserving the planet as we found it as a species - are well taken. Not taking the long view in negative anthropogenic impact solutions almost certainly guarantees their failure. Equally, not facing the level and scale of negative anthropogenic impacts on the planet is also self defeating. The growing frustration at governments and environmentalists not dealing with the source of negative anthropogenic impacts is becoming more and more palpable.

The ultimate logic of any problem solving is to resolve the direct cause of the problem and generally before you address the symptoms it generates. Otherwise the costs of only addressing the symptoms risks depleting the resources necessary for a solution, or being overrun by the symptoms which can't be eliminated without eliminating their source. Perhaps like worrying about preserving the cargo in a ship before you stop the inflow from a major mid-ocean hull breach.

You can't intelligently approach a solution to - or realistically discuss climate change (including ocean acidification), loss of species diversity (including corals) and, or any kind of anthropogenic pollution related impacts without first implementing a plan to stop the cause. We need a plan for a solution that ultimately reduces the human population back to demonstrated, sustainable and minimal impact levels of under 2 B - while maintaining non-growth, but functional, civil and progressive economies - and that is admittedly a near impossible task.

Doing otherwise has even worse outcomes and is simply wasting the resources that should be implemented in reducing actual cause of the problem of grossly unsustainable global human populations. Having not addressed human overpopulation makes it hard to consider current collective anthropogenic environmental concerns (most environmental problems) - as anything more than piece meal, not intellectually serious and possibly being only slightly better outcome wise than those who would chose to ignore both overpopulation and its obvious environmental symptoms like climate change and loss of species diversity.

Like the lingering affects of rising CO2, humanely addressing human overpopulation and maintaining sustainable human populations is going to take centuries. This assuming current global NPK food production collapse predictions in the next 30 years - are highly inaccurate. Consequently, current discussions logically should consider plans and their economics to preserve species and habitat recovery in light of continued and long term uncontrolled and consequently unavoidable negative anthropogenic impacts, until and while population reduction solutions are implemented.

Scale wise and to be economically practical - very long term solutions necessarily need to be of a more of seed bank concept like approach. Compared to affecting major areas of the planet which will simply ineffectively exhaust the a little resources available. The cost of even preserving the planets most remote areas are likely economically (fiscally and physically) unrealistic. Solutions have to be capable economic resource wise of surviving the longterm of continued and growing environmental impacts - including continued environmentalist and preservationist vacillation - not to mention the inevitability of growing critical resource conflicts and their impacts - which also limit environmental problem solution resource availability.

To have these discussions about trying to control negative anthropogenic impacts with zero population management plan(s) in place, implemented and functionally demonstrated - are realistically absurd and insulting to anyone who understands the scale and complexity of the problems at hand. Especially, when those discussions aren't difficult to be seen as self serving and profit motivated (whether you are the Heritage Foundation - or a leading NGO environmental activist organization whose existence and funding is dependent on the continuation of anthropogenic environmental problems) and or those who are well intended "do gooders" that are motivated by their inadequately based "good feelings" and the endorphins they might generate.

As unpleasant as it is unavoidable, we must discuss and implement human population reduction before critical resource limitations force it upon us and any environmental solutions or even considerations - are lost to the most basic survival priorities.

Durwood M. Dugger, Pres.
BioCepts International, Inc. (BCI, Inc.)


Message: 2
Date: Sat, 12 Apr 2014 21:04:45 +0100
From: Peter Raines <rainespeter at gmail.com>
Subject: [Coral-List] Coral Restoration
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
        <CABxk1uUrJQLAefVq=vyyQfro8pxovML+W6EuzJSYH2fE4xVEPQ at mail.gmail.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1

I congratulate Sarah, Peter and countless other friends and colleagues who each and all are doing their valued bit to help understand, promote and protect coral reefs.

I recently attended a one-day workshop in London on Logical Frameworks.
Many will know that these are the arch-stone and requisite for many funders.. The context was LIFE+ funding from the European union, of which there are many hundreds of $millions on offer.

The far-right column of most 'logframes' is entitled 'Assumptions'. These are usually assumptions outside of the control of the project/programme but nonetheless need to be factored. Some of these assumptions are termed 'Killer Assumptions' - i.e. assumptions so severe that they will kill the project stone-dead in its tracks and thus either require a fundamental project/programme re-think or most likely, just give up, go home and not bother.

So, I asked of the workshop convener during a coffee-break this: "Assuming the predicted global trends are correct re. ocean acidification and the like, then these surely are the 'Killer Assumptions' that should be paramount and overarchingly declared in any Logframe. Should I pack my bags up and go home now?"  He politely smiled, nodded but of course could not answer.

So, the killer-question I ask myself is: "Should I give up any and all hope for coral reefs and just throw in the towel?" My glass always being half-full, my answer is a resounding "NO!".

I say good luck to Sarah, Peter and everyone in their mission, drive and energy to help protect and restore coral reefs. What we need is a coalition of the willing to kill assumptions!

All the best,


Peter Raines MBE
Coral Restoration Foundation International


Email: rainespeter at gmail.com
Mobile: +44 (0)7597 664987
Skype: peter.raines


Message: 3
Date: Sat, 12 Apr 2014 17:24:40 -0400
From: Eugene Shinn <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
Subject: [Coral-List] What do coral reef scientists perceive are the
        major, threats to Caribbean coral reefs?
To: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Message-ID: <5349AF18.6050701 at mail.usf.edu>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed

Alina, I agree that Caribbean Coral death continued into the late 1980s and 1990s however, the peak year of /Acropora/ death was 1983. That was the year both A. /palmata/ and /cervicornis/ died at San Salvador. Thats way out east of the Bahamas and surrounded by deep clear blue water.
Telephone pole reef at San Salvador, (almost entirely a staghorn
thicket) died in 1983  over a very short period (2 or 3 months). It was disease that was not preceded by bleaching. Death of that reef put the nearby resort devoted to underwater photographers out of business. This was all observed by the director and scientists at the nearby Finger Lakes lab at San Salvador. My 52-year serial photographs of the same sites in the Florida Keys confirm that coral death peaked in 1983. They were showing signs of sickness in the late 1970s but the peak time of demise was 1983. Summer water temperature in the Keys was no higher in
1983 than previous years and wide-spread bleaching in the Keys did not start until 1986. As you know the peak year for African dust flux into the Caribbean was 1983. I might add the second peak year was 1998 but by then disease and bleaching was rampant everywhere in the Caribbean. That world wide El Nino even killed corals in the Persian Gulf where corals had long been adapted to extreme temperature changes.  Before you mention "correlation is not causation" I remind you that correlation is causation when when people correlate sewage/people (the usual suspects) with coral death. It seems to depend on what is being correlated. If you really want to get stirred up read the coral section in the recently released Non Governmental Climate Change report. There you will find that acidification is not a problem. I certainly agree with you about over population but you have to be realistic. That ain't gonna change voluntarily. You may be interested to know that in the current IPCC massive report on page 1106 chapter 12 there is a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)  12.3, "*What would happen to future climate if we stopped emissions today?*"  as part of a longer sentence the answer given is, "Much of the warming would persist for centuries after greenhouse gas emissions stopped." So if green house gasses are the ultimate cause none of us will ever see the reefs recover. Very depressing. Gene


No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
University of South Florida
College of Marine Science Room 221A
140 Seventh Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
<eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
Tel 727 553-1158
---------------------------------- -----------------------------------


Message: 4
Date: Sun, 13 Apr 2014 05:47:37 +0000
From: Clive Wilkinson <clive.wilkinson at rrrc.org.au>
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] What do coral reef scientists perceive are
        the major threats to Caribbean coral reefs?
To: Sarah Young <syoungresides at gmail.com>,
        "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov"        <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa..gov>
        <1DFBA9E7B710074E91192EAD2A4A388E017FBFA81E at MAIN-SERVER.rrrc.local>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Hi Sarah (and those interested in lists)

There have been many recent efforts to list the most serious threats to coral reefs (usually excluding non-anthropogenic stressors). May I suggest you start with these.

The first in the literature was via Bernard Salvat in the early 80s and threats were the theme of the 4th International Coral Reef Symposium in Manila with Edgardo Gomez leading the charge.

Don Kinsey summarised the major threats in 1988 with a focus on organic pollution, overfishing and excess sedimentation (Kinsey, D. W. (1988). Coral reef response to some natural and anthropogenic stresses. Galaxea, 7, 113-28...)

The two plenary addresses at the 7th International Coral Reef Symposium in Guam focused on the threats facing coral reefs, with

predictions and bringing in climate change as a major threat(Buddemeier, 1993 p. 1; Wilkinson, 1993, p. 11).

Barbara Best compiled a list of threats in 2001 (Best, B.A. and A. Bornbusch (eds). Global trade and consumer choices: Coral reefs in crisis. Proceeding of 2001 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, San Francisco, California, 19 February 2001)

In 2004, the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network produced this 'Top Ten' list, based on input from more than 200 people:

Global Change Threats:
o    Coral bleaching - caused by elevated sea surface temperatures due to global climate change;
o    Rising levels of CO2 - increased concentrations of CO2 in seawater decrease calcification rates in coral reef organisms;
o    Diseases, Plagues and Invasives - increases in diseases and plagues of coral predators that are increasingly linked to human disturbances in the environment.

Direct Human Pressures:
o    Over-fishing (and global market pressures) - the harvesting of fishes and invertebrates beyond sustainable yields, including the use of damaging practices (bomb and cyanide fishing);
o    Sediments - from poor land use, deforestation, and dredging;
o    Nutrients and Chemical pollution - both organic and inorganic chemicals carried with sediments, in untreated sewage, waste from agriculture, animal husbandry and industry; includes complex organics and heavy metals;
o    Development of coastal areas - modification of coral reefs for urban, industrial, transport and tourism developments, including reclamation and the mining of coral reef rock and sand beyond sustainable limits.

The Human Dimension - Governance, Awareness and Political Will:
o    Rising poverty, increasing populations, alienation from the land - increasing human populations put increasing pressures on coral reef resources beyond sustainable limits;
o    Poor capacity for management and lack of resources - most coral reef countries lack trained personnel for coral reef management, raising awareness, enforcement and monitoring; also a lack of adequate funding and logistic resources to implement effective conservation; and
o    Lack of Political Will, and Oceans Governance - most problems facing coral reefs are tractable for solutions if there is political will and effective and non-corrupt governance of resources. Interventions by, and inertia in, global and regional organisations can impede national action to conserve coral reefs.
(Wilkinson, C.R., 2004. Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2004. Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network and Reef and Rainforest Research Centre, Townsville, p.557.)

This list was expanded a bit in a paper in Marine Pollution Bulletin (Wilkinson, C., Salvat, B. (2012). Coastal resource degradation in the tropics: does the tragedy of the commons apply for coral reefs, mangrove forests and seagrass beds? Marine Pollution Bulletin, 64: 1096-1105.) Thus you have many lists to start with. Not all threats will apply in all reef areas and the order of prominence will change radically. And it is important to note "that everything connects to everything else" which is attributed to Leonardo da Vinci around 1500 and Barry Commoner in 1971. So the comments by Alina Szmant that the combination of climate change and disease fits exactly into this connection for the Caribbean.
Best wishes
Clive Wilkinson

PS - Sorry Gene Shinn, we have not included dust from the Sahara in our lists.

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