[Coral-List] Consensus statements in general

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Mon Nov 2 13:05:02 EST 2015

I just wanted to say that I appreciate every response that I received from a small, but very distinguished group of coral-listers. I particularly want to thank Jeremy Jackson, who in my opinion epitomizes the role of what a marine scientist should be in today's world. I'm referring to showing the courage to back up research findings with a robust level of public advocacy. At least part of the reason that we haven't made more progress in winning over public support for protecting coral reefs from the ravages of climate change and a host of local stressors can be traced to a less than powerful voice emanating from researchers on the front lines. How can I hope to succeed in promoting awareness and facilitating change within the diving industry when the vast majority of marine scientists (whose published works are the very basis of my appeal) refuse to take a public stand?   Perhaps many of you don't think that supporting consensus statements is important, but what your backing does is to create a quantifiable assessment of the level of support and that is often what sways public opinion. My own working group is now hesitant to promote the ISRS statement within the the diving community in part because it is unclear as to the level of peer-reviewed support with which it has been received. No wonder there is hesitancy and inaction. Ironically, almost every paper that I read on the impacts of climate change on corals seems to me to be "like a firebell in the night", but too quickly those recurrent alarms become muted by what appears to be indifference. I think that the scientists among you have a responsibility to sort this out .. . .  Are our coral reefs on the brink or not?  My own anecdotal evaluation, based on observations spanning over a half-century now, are not enough. To illustrate how bad it has become, I'm beginning to see how the argument put forth by some that coral scientists are just riding a popular wave in order to obtain grant money can gain credibility . . . and I never thought that I would ever think or say anything like that.     Steve Mussman      

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