[Coral-List] Blue Alert

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Mon Nov 30 15:14:07 EST 2015

   Dear Martina,
   I share your frustrations and agree that it is most certainly time for a
   change. There can be no doubt that whatever we have been doing has not
   worked out as planned. Those of us who have been working within the diving
   industry to raise awareness of the threats to coral reefs know this all too
   well. Hopefully, your depiction of us as relentlessly preaching down to
   "insensible users" is not the prevalent one. I know that I have made my
   share of stupid/ignorant decisions while diving over the years and I often
   refer to them when trying to make a point. To me, the crux of the issue that
   you allude to focuses in on the reasons why we don't change and instead find
   ourselves in this  inalterable standoff. My friends and colleagues who
   dismiss my concerns are not evil, ignorant or insensitive, but they do seem
   to  share  common  principles  and  therein lies the conundrum. Beyond
   the obvious difficulties of bridging divergent world views is the fact that
   our rancorous impasse continues to be empowered by antithetical sets of
   facts. It  is  as  if  we  live  in different worlds. What I find most
   disturbing is the utter and complete rejection of scientific opinion as
   exemplified by their refusal to accept the reality of the threats described
   in the consensus statements put out by the ICRS and the ISRS. In fact, as
   you   well  know,  they  have  simply  created  their  own alternative
   scientific view which calls into question almost every tenet supported by
   the modern marine sciences. Maybe all this can be resolved by utilizing a
   new approach, but ironically as the Paris conference opens there are still
   too  many  divers as well as many within our industry's leadership who
   are unwilling to see things for what they are. In fact, I'm told repeatedly
   that the reefs are just fine and whatever problems do exist are just the
   result of natural variations. I'm afraid that although I'm prepared to
   listen and learn, I'm having trouble seeing how time, understanding and
   humbleness will eventually bridge these gaps.   Regards, Steve Mussman

   -----Original Message-----
   >From: martina
   >Sent: Nov 26, 2015 6:07 AM
   >To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
   >Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Blue Alert
   >Hi everybody,
   >just a quick note: be it divers, fishermen, boaters, beach goers etc
   >etc... aren't we done with the "us against them" yet? Sorry, but it
   >seems to me a very old-fashioned approach, and one that clearly didn't
   >pay off well. Time for a change, maybe?
   >Personally, I'd get terribly annoyed if someone, for knowledged he/she
   >may be, came to me preaching and treating me as I was a dummy insensible
   >user. It doesn't surprise me at all this way didn't go much further in
   >the past decades.
   >We are all users (and abusers) of something (not necessarily nature) in
   >some ways, and we all make very stupid decisions that affect our
   >community. Shall we think of economy, for instance? Are we all super
   >skilled in the subject and can we confirm we never behaved in such a way
   >as to negatively influence global economic trends? Speaking for myself,
   >I certainly can't. Not an excuse, of course, but let's put ourselves in
   >other users' shoes for a moment. There's room for change but there are
   >also reasons why we use and reasons why we may not change completely.
   >Ignoring all this is a blind approach, and not a fair one.
   >Then there's the other aspect: don't you feel that the same comments and
   >blah blah goes on every couple of months? Apart from pointing the finger
   >at the usual culprits (and maybe write yet another paper showing how bad
   >they are), how many of us are really sitting down with "the evil side"
   >and try to find a solution? I'm saying it REALLY trying? Please tell me
   >something new, not the usual sentence "I tried but they are not
   >interested because they are
   >stupid/ignorant/greedy/insensitive/all-of-the-above", or we must
   >conclude some of us are superheroes as apparently they are achieving
   >such impossible aim (but it takes time, understanding and humbleness).
   >While the "us against them" saga continues, our fellows from other
   >branches of the conservation sciences are unveiling surprising things
   >such as: the power of collaborative learning and management; the
   >importance of conservation marketing; the value of local knowledge
   >embedded into decision making and enforcement. And - hard to believe -
   >some of them get results!
   >It is very sad to realise not even scientists listen to other
   >scientists. Then, why should users?
   >Il 25/11/15 12:43, Steve Mussman ha scritto:
   >> Peter, Nicole and Listers,
   >> First let me say that I received a number of helpful responses and as a
   result I have quite a few papers to sift through that relate to valuation.
   That's a good thing, and I look forward to it. Thanks to all of you who took
   the time to help me find my way. I also think that Nicole hit on yet another
   important point. When we talk about the role of the "diving industry", it
   might  be  best to break it down into subsets.. There are likely to be
   different strategies that should be applied when we are attempting to reach
   out  to  diverse  populations  of divers, dive shops, resorts and even
   manufacturers. We can do that, and your thoughts and ideas help, but I also
   have come to see these efforts as part of a bigger philosophical debate that
   is brewing involving broader, conflicting world views. Les Kaufman brought
   to my attention the divide that exists between those who believe that the
   old tools and tactics of classical environmental conservation no longer
   apply in this century. They!
   > argue tha
   >t our goals are misplaced and unrealistic. We need to change our view of
   the  natural world and become more pragmatic. They say we need to stop
   advocating for pristine wilderness and instead find solace in "the swamp at
   the edge of town". Nature, we are told is not so fragile and impoverished. I
   guess that suggests that many of us are old-school in that we don't mind
   admitting that we place a higher value on the sense of wonder that can only
   be found in the relatively undisturbed, still-wild versions of nature.
   Peter, you wrote that "asking if there are any studies that contradict what
   appears to be the prevailing consensus among marine biologists that coral
   reefs  are  increasingly  being  threatened  by land-based pollutants,
   over-fishing, and climate change is almost like asking if there are any
   papers that report that sky is not blue". Well, that's what I'm trying to
   say. The fact is that my industry's leaders have a myopic view of the sky .
   . . one that refutes the "blue theo!
   > ry". Inste
   >ad, they see only the red hues and the green puff of a flawless Caribbean
   sunset. Seriously, it is as if science doesn't exist. That's perhaps the
   most disturbing part of the story.
   >> Regards, Steve Mussman
   >> ---Original Message-----
   >>> From: Peter Sale
   >>> Sent: Nov 23, 2015 10:53 PM
   >>> To: "Nicole L. Crane"
   >>> Cc: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov"
   >>> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Blue Alert
   >>> Nicole,
   >>> Yes, you understand the problem. Dive operators need to focus on the
   dive sites they use, not the global decline on reefs. While we scientists
   and  other  âcoral-listersâ need to acknowledge that what makes a reef
   fantastic (to us) is not necessarily what makes a reef dive fantastic to the
   sport diver who just went on it. Earlier today I received an e-mail not
   copied to the list by a knowledgeable individual who told me about a dive
   with friends on a biologically rich reef in SE Asia. At the end of the dive,
   his friends consensus was that the reef was âpretty boring, because all the
   coral was brownâ. For those friends, âgood diveâ does not correlate closely
   with ârich reefâ..
   >>> At the same time, dive operators should understand that living reefs are
   a  resource  that underpins their business, and ideally would be doing
   whatever they can to enhance the understanding of reefs among their clients.
   A part of that is sustainable practice.
   >>> And, yes, many scientists have a terrible tendency to âtalk downâ to
   non-specialists, destroying the possibility of education in the process.
   Keep doing what you are doing..
   >>> Peter Sale
   >>> From: Nicole L.. Crane [mailto:nicrane at cabrillo.edu]
   >>> Sent: Monday, November 23, 2015 10:55 AM
   >>> To: Peter Sale
   >>> Cc: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
   >>> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Blue Alert
   >>> I wanted to weigh in here. Peter has it right, but telling the dive
   industry that will alienate many of them. People who want quantifiable
   projections  are  generally looking for a way to hold off on their own
   changes. âCurrent rate of declineâ is also not really quantifiable since
   there is such regional and even much smaller spacial scale variability in
   reef response and subsequent rate of decline. We are working on and about to
   publish our work in Ulithi Atoll that documents Atoll scale variability in
   reef types and associated decline related to human impacts. And this is an
   atoll with NO diving tourism and just subsistence fishing. Some sites are
   âpristine-ishâ while others are highly degraded.
   >>> So, What we do in Ulithi is sit down with the resource users and explain
   to them the science behind the changes in their reefs, and the probable
   (difficult to quantify) influence on that decline of their activities. We
   have found this to be incredibly effective. Rather than tell them whatâs
   going  on  globally and why they should make changes, we arm them with
   knowledge about their system, and discuss the likely outcomes of business as
   usual. The decision about what to do about it is theirs. They have asked us
   for  advice though, and that is an opportunity to insert some possible
   >>> I donât know if this approach would go over well with the dive industry.
   I was very involved with the dive industry for many years, and find local
   operations often very open to this kind of dialog, and often hungry for
   information. What I found them tired of is people (scientists?) telling then
   what they should do - since they often felt they were not the problem. Once
   they understand that every single person can start a âwoundâ on already
   stressed reefs, and that âwoundâ can spread, they begin to see how every
   person matters, and their role in passing that info on. Many of them donât
   have any idea of the nature of what a coral animal is and how it functions
   (as Iâm sure you know)..
   >>> Iâm not even sure if Iâm addressing your original e-mail hereâ¦and Iâm
   sure Iâm saying things you already know.. Somehow I think the âEducationâ
   campaign sometimes goes wrong, since âEducationâ can seem derogatory (I
   know, so let me tell). Knowledge is something shared, and both the scientist
   and  the  dive operator have important knowledge to shareâ¦maybe if we
   partnered in this way we would be more on the same page?
   >>> Thanks for your good work
   >>> Nicole
   >>> On Nov 21, 2015, at 12:11 PM, Peter Sale > wrote:
   >>> Steve, and List,
   >>> Sounds like your dive industry colleagues are playing hard to get.
   >>> Asking if there are any recent studies that contradict what appears to
   be the prevailing consensus among marine biologists that coral reefs are
   increasingly being threatened by land-based pollutants, over-fishing and
   climate change is almost like asking if there are any papers that report
   that  the  sky is not blue. There may be differing opinions on how big
   'increasingly' is,but even there, I doubt there are any scientists who think
   the human impacts on reefs are uniform across the globe. Are there specific
   places  that  are not affected by each of these? Yes for pollution and
   over-fishing, but no for climate change or acidification. So the literature
   cannot help you much with this request.
   >>> Are there quantitative studies of the economic value of reefs, and the
   loss of value if they are degraded? Yes, there are. I do not have specific
   references at hand,but others will surely suggest some. One difficulty you
   will have convincing your colleagues, however, is that reefs are a shared
   resource. There is no direct and immediate benefit for one operator to
   modify  practices  to be environmentally sustainable, unless he/she is
   operating in a location or business niche in which the clients will make
   decisions based on evident greenness of competing operators. And there is
   always the nasty reality that the majority of sport divers cannot tell the
   difference between a rich reef and a dead one. If it has great topography,
   and myriad fish swimming about it can yield a great dive experience.
   >>> You may have to settle for building communication and collaboration in
   marketing among the minority (?) of operators who actually get the fact that
   the places they love are at risk if we do not all mend our ways. Hotels
   advertise their environmental sustainability (not always honestly) as part
   of their marketing; why shouldn't dive operators do the same?
   >>> Peter Sale
   >>> @PeterSale3
   >>> www.petersalebooks.com
   >>> ________________________________________
   >>>   From:  coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov  >  on  behalf  of
   coral-list-request at coral.aoml..noaa.gov >
   >>> Sent: November 21, 2015 12:00 PM
   >>> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
   >>> Subject: Coral-List Digest, Vol 87, Issue 19
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   >>> Today's Topics:
   >>> 1. Blue Alert - Have You Seen Any Studies? (Steve Mussman)
   >>> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
   >>> Message: 1
   >>> Date: Fri, 20 Nov 2015 10:03:29 -0500 (EST)
   >>> From: Steve Mussman >
   >>> Subject: [Coral-List] Blue Alert - Have You Seen Any Studies?
   >>> To: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" >
   >>> Message-ID:
   <32681970.1448031810829.JavaMail.root at wamui-mosaic.atl.sa.earthlink...net>
   >>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
   >>> Dear Listers,
   >>>  I am trying to find any examples of well-performed, peer reviewed
   scientific studies that relate to two specific areas of interest. One is
   quite simple. Have there been any studies published that contradict what
   appears to be the prevailing consensus among marine biologists that coral
   reefs  are  increasingly  being  threatened  by land-based pollutants,
   over-fishing  and  climate change? It seems to be almost impossible to
   quantify the exact degree to which there is a scientific consensus, so I
   would like to know if there have been any papers published that seem to
   challenge the theory. The second request is a bit more complicated. Are
   there any studies out there that might apply to this concept? I'm looking
   for  projections that take into account the current rate of coral reef
   decline and link that to corresponding expectations regarding economic
   impacts that specify the diving and dive tourism industries. Something that
   might answer the question of what are the likely costs (i!
   > n t
   >>> erms such as net present value, return on investment, consumer demand,
   etc)  of  continuing  to do business as usual i.e., continuing without
   aggressively addressing the underlying threats. Any help or suggestions
   would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance, Steve Mussman
   >>> ------------------------------
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   >>> Coral-List at coral..aoml.noaa.gov
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   >>> End of Coral-List Digest, Vol 87, Issue 19
   >>> ******************************************
   >>> _______________________________________________
   >>> Coral-List mailing list
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   >>> Nicole L. Crane
   >>> Faculty, Cabrillo College
   >>> Natural and Applied Sciences
   >>> www.cabrillo.edu/~ncrane
   >>> onepeopleonereef.ucsc.edu
   >>> Senior Conservation Scientist
   >>> Oceanic Society
   >>> www.oceanicsociety.org
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