[Coral-List] Reassessing Coral Reef Scientists

Dennis Hubbard dennis.hubbard at oberlin.edu
Mon Apr 6 12:35:42 EDT 2015

Judy makes excellent points and I'll add one on the offset side. I am on a
committee charged with minimizing the College's carbon footprint, whether
to use carbon offsets and, if so, how to best do this.

The reality, as we see it, is that neutrality is impossible to do without
offsets. Having come to this realization, we are nevertheless mindful that
this realization makes it too easy to effectively "tithe" our way to

As a result, we have started a process that tries to identify ways to
create and support useful offsets within the local community. This has two
important elements. First, it makes sure that the positive impacts are felt
locally. Also, it makes it easier to monitor whether the funds are actually
used toward the intended end (carbon reduction).

I recently tried to pay my "guilt money" to Delta airlines for a research
trip to Belize and they made it more difficult than finding the cheapest
fare and booking it. Also, there was no description of where the funds
would go. While I'm hopeful they didn't go into a bonus (or vacation trip)
for some Delta executive, I have to assume that Delta's due diligence in
choosing and monitoring a possible recipient is lower than I'd like.

So, the message here is to spend some time looking for an offset either in
your local community or in the community where you are working. Bringing
local capacity into the research side of the equation is a great start and
something to be encouraged in any event. However, I've typically seen this
needing continued collaboration (i.e., trips). So, I've tended to think of
this as valuable and something I just do as part of being a professional -
not necessarily reducing carbon output. I value this and applaud anyone
taking this approach. But I also hope we can come up with ways that we
might directly offset carbon, perhaps something we might identify through
ISRS (and I'm thinking separately from a student research grant). Something
to think about.


On Mon, Apr 6, 2015 at 9:27 AM, Judith Lang <jlang at riposi.net> wrote:

> Hi Magnus and Listers,
> I know of a few NGOs and foundations that currently mitigate for
> work-related air travel, but many, or perhaps most, organizations choose to
> ignore these societal costs. Those of us who commute to reefs from
> temperate regions and also have geographically scatterered family
> obligations are especially guilty of generating far more than our share of
> global carbon emissions!
> Here are some suggestions  to minimize the "professional hyprocisy"
> related to our travel: try to combine several projects, activities or
> meetings in each trip; personally contribute to a carbon offset program
> when funders don't provide such compensation; help build local capacity,
> both in person and via the Internet.
> Best wishes,
> Judy Lang
> On Apr 4, 2015, at 12:41 PM, Magnus Johnson <m.johnson at hull.ac.uk> wrote:
> > You could say the same about scientists who preach about climate change,
> damage to reefs etc but enjoy travelling the world to do field work . .and
> often dive to do it! (I'm one of them).  Perhaps we share a degree of
> professional hypocrisy?
> >
> > What we should be doing is ensuring that local scientists have the
> capacity and infrastructure to do their own research.  Should there be such
> an animal as a coral reef expert from temperate regions?  I cant remember
> the last time I met a Mongolian expert in temperate intertidal ecology . .
> >
> > Just sayin' . . .
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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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