[Coral-List] Consensus statements in general - and the ISRS Statement on Climate Change

Rupert Ormond rupert.ormond.mci at gmail.com
Wed Oct 28 19:56:53 EDT 2015

Dear Coral Listers,

As the ISRS post holder who took on the task of collating the review of 
the society's Consensus Statement on Coral Bleaching and Climate Change 
I would like to thank those listers who have expressed support for the 
principle of the statement, as well of course as those who wrote and 
reviewed it.

It is perhaps worth confirming that the statement went through many 
iterations at the hands of some twenty to thirty people, and that the 
final version was probably more carefully worded than most legal 
documents. We have taken enormous care with words, using phrases such as 
"the functional loss of most coral ecosystems" and NOT "the destruction 
of all coral reefs", even though probably even most non-reef biologists 
will not appreciate the considerable technical difference between the two.
We also took great care NOT to state that climate change was the only 
cause of reef decline, but to also refer to other drivers, such as 
pollution, overfishing and Crown-of-thorns, in places by name.
It was also decided not to venture too far into less certain areas such 
as the current value of coral ecosystem services or the scope for 
adaptation and acclimation of coral-zooxanthellae symbiosis, although 
these are certainly subjects on which increased certainty in the near 
future would be very helpful.

As has been well said, whatever the minor differences on this topic 
between reef scientists, they must pale in to insignificance in 
comparison to the threat now facing coral reefs unless the Paris Climate 
Change Conference (COP21) can reach the necessary deal, not sometime in 
the future, but just a month from now.
We need to be seen to speak so far as possible with one voice. Not only 
are there plenty of climate change deniers out there, but it is 
astonishing how low a profile the emerging  impact of climate change on 
corals and coral communities has even among climate change scientists. I 
could find only three brief mentions of corals in the whole of the 
summary report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

I am glad to be able to report that the statement has been welcomed even 
more enthusiastically than we had hoped by a wide range of 
inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations that will be 
lobbying at the Paris meeting, and the statement is also due to be 
presented by an ISRS rep at two or three of the ocean-related events 
that will be taking place around the periphery of the formal proceedings.
We would again appeal to all coral-listers and ISRS members to inform 
anyone (government ministers, members of parliament, congressmen, COP 
delegates) that may be able to influence the decision of governments at 
COP21 about the overwhelming threat that climate change poses for coral 
reefs and the people who depend on them. The statement can be downloaded 
from the home-page of the ISRS website (www.coralreefs.org) where we 
expect versions in French, Spanish (and later Arabic and Chinese) to 
also be available shortly.

Rupert Ormond
Corresponding Secretary ISRS
Centre for Marine Biodiversity & Biotechnolgy
Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

On 27/10/2015 22:52, Pedro M Alcolado wrote:
> Sorry, I also support the consensus of ICRS even if it colid needs
> refining. Local stressors have to be taken in mind, even when there
> could be no general consensus in every issue.
> Pedro
> On 10/27/15, Pedro M Alcolado <gmalcolado at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I support the consensus statement recently put out by the ISRS.
>> Best wishes for all,
>> Pedro M. Alcolado
>> On 10/27/15, Steve Mussman <sealab at earthlink.net> wrote:
>>> Dear Listers,
>>> As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recognize that coral scientists are
>>> not
>>> of one mind, but I need to be able to gauge the level of support that
>>> exists
>>> for the consensus statement recently put out by the ISRS. (It can be
>>> found
>>> here):
>>> https://www.openchannels.org/sites/default/files/ISRS%20Consensus%20Statement%20on%20Coral%20Bleaching%20%26%20Climate%20Change.pdf
>>> It differs somewhat from an earlier (2012) ICRS consensus statement found
>>> here: http://www.icrs2012.com/Consensus_Statement.htm
>>> I understand that there are differences between these two declarations,
>>> but
>>> I want to focus on their similarities.
>>> They both emphasize the fact that climate change presents perhaps the
>>> ultimate threat to coral reefs. As I see it, the ISRS statement focuses
>>> only
>>> on CO2 emissions whereas the ICRS statement goes on to mention more about
>>> the role of local stressors.
>>> Rather than debate every minutia, is it accurate to assume that the coral
>>> science community generally supports the spirit and intent of both
>>> statements?  I think that it does, but quietude is difficult to interpret.
>>> I
>>> need feedback and getting scientists to commit is apparently like herding
>>> cats. I don't expect 8,000 responses, but can someone just step up and
>>> publicly confirm or reject my basic supposition?
>>> Thanks,
>>> Steve
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> From: Steve Mussman <sealab at earthlink.net>
>>>> Sent: Oct 23, 2015 11:49 AM
>>>> To: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
>>>> Subject: [Coral-List] Consensus statement and sunscreens
>>>> I recognize that coral scientists are not of one mind, but can I say
>>>> categorically that the consensus statement recently put out by the ISRS
>>>> (International Society for Reef Studies) has as close to universal
>>>> backing
>>>> as is possible considering the divergent nature of independent thought?
>>>> I
>>>> want to promote it within the diving industry, but don't want to portray
>>>> it as having a unifying level of support if that turns out to be a
>>>> distortion of the facts.
>>>> As for sunscreen toxicity, I am concerned that statements like "any small
>>>> effort to reduce oxybenzone pollution could mean that a coral reef
>>>> survives a long, hot summer, or that a degraded area recovers" could be
>>>> misleading in that it may be taken to suggest that we can offset the
>>>> impacts of other local and global stressors if we can just manage to
>>>> eliminate sunblock. PADI's website now contains a cautionary message
>>>> about
>>>> sunscreens and their effect on corals and even goes further to mention
>>>> that other threats such as coastal pollution, overfishing, and marine
>>>> debris are a greater threat to marine life . . . but still there remains
>>>> no mention of climate change.
>>>> Steve Mussman
>>>> Sea Lab Diving
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