[Coral-List] Two news stories about coral reefs

John Ogden jogden at usf.edu
Fri Aug 19 16:16:37 EDT 2016

Dear Phil and All,

I agree with you and those who firmly indict the relentless growth of 
the human population and the related pressures for economic growth and 
the disproportionate use of global resources by the industrialized 
nations as the ultimate drivers of the destruction of global 
environments on land and sea.

If you live long enough you can see a pattern to the waxing and the 
waning of the population issue.  I was a graduate student with Paul 
Ehrlich at Stanford University in the mid-1960s when the population of 
the U.S. just passed 200 million and that of the world about 3.5 billion 
(less than half of the nearly 8 billion today).  Ehrlich was approached 
by David Brower, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, who invited him 
to publish the ideas he had been pushing in his popular public lectures 
in a small paperback book.  Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb (1968) in 
a few months and it was an instant best seller.  The book featured a 
series of alarming predictions of disaster unless something was done, 
and soon.  He became a public figure and arguably one of the most high 
profile and influential scientists in the world.  For example, he 
appeared over 20 times in the 1960-70s on the popular, late-night Johnny 
Carson TV show, more than anyone else and always with a new wrinkle on 
the topic of overpopulation.  Excoriated by some scientists for crossing 
the forbidden line between science and public policy, Ehrlich was 
undeterred and went on to his long career which continues today, now 
with over 40 books and countless publications and lectures always firmly 
connected to over-population and its ramifications.

But the dates of the predicted disasters in the Population Bomb came and 
went and skeptics arose.  No worries, they said, technology will find a 
way to support many more people.  A prominent example was the Green 
Revolution, one of many technological solutions to food production.   In 
a famous bet with economist Julian Simon, Ehrlich said that the prices 
of a list of strategic materials would increase abruptly with growing 
population and shrinking supply.  He lost the bet and the technologists 
relaxed.  As late as the mid-2000s, following a public lecture attended 
by thousands at the USF, an editorial in the Tampa Bay Times suggested 
that we had heard enough of this issue and Ehrlich was getting a little 
tiresome and repetitious. About the same time, a New York Times op ed 
suggested that the idea of populations outrunning their resources 
(Malthus anyone?) would be solved by technology.   About this time 
China, a bit out of step as usual, but capable of astonishing changes, 
cut its birth rate in half.  This was before the global economy and the 
demand for growth created the fastest growing middle class in the world 
and a growing demand for resources that boggles the mind.

I know I am way past the risk of boring you, but here comes population 
again.  We admit we are distracted by small scale approaches to the 
decline of global environments and we are casting about for an approach 
to global problems that have so far proven to be unapproachable, even if 
the arguments for taking them on are getting stronger by the year (see, 
for just one recent example, Our Dying Planet, by Peter Sale 2012).  
Population growth and climate change require global action.  If we can 
ramp up successfully on the climate issue, can this provide leverage for 
the population issue?  I am aware of at least two mulch-disciplinary 
academic groups who are working on these issues.  In the ocean, for 
example, there is some evidence that if we can successfully expand our 
governance of the ocean to the scale of ocean processes, we can build 
ecosystem resilience to climate change.But whether this works or not, 
the effort will not be wasted.Even if the ocean as we know it is doomed, 
if life is to remain on earth we will always need to draw resources from 
the sea and will be sustained by its contributions to the maintenance of 
the global system.Great challenges spawn great ideas and these are 
popping up all the time.So let’s just get busy and do what we already 
know is the right thing.

Good luck to us!

On 8/19/2016 1:49 PM, Phil Dustan wrote:
> Dear Bob,
>    The elephant in the room is really 7 billion people on the
> planet......and no one wants to talk about it as though it would be
> upsetting some moral taboo. The rest of it - coal, methane, carbon, sea
> level etc is a consequence not real drivers.....The Club of Rome had it
> spot on in the 1970's........
>   NOAA is too politically greedy, large NGO's have become corporate, the
> diving industry is making too much money pushing into new territories after
> their customers trash the last place, Wreck diving is replacing reef diving
> in the Florida Keys 'cause the reefs are dead........Oh, and scientists
> keep asking for more money for "research".
>   Ecology is really a local sport with local actors - just all over the
> planet. We don't need more research, more monitoring, or more
> technology...We know the basic principles now and how to put them in place.
> We need people to change their behaviors, reproduce with longer generation
> times, eat a different diet, and to distribute wealth more equitably.
>   But all that is too much to ask of the human race so we have situation
> like the GBR, Florida Keys, Bahamas, Jamaica, Philippines, etc.......all
> over the planet. Our reproductive success is really the driver behind it
> all.
> And the destruction is accelerating as in Bali this past year:
>     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxOfLTnPSUo
> All the best,
>    Phil
> On Thu, Aug 18, 2016 at 11:23 PM, Robert Bourke<rbourke at oceanit.com>  wrote:
>> Doug & All;
>>          The discussion concerning saving Australia's Great Barrier Reef
>> ignores the elephant in the room.
>>          At the recent coral reef conference we all listened to numerous
>> papers placing much of the blame for the decline of the Great Barrier Reef
>> upon two key factors 1) sediment turbidity from agriculture and mining
>> operations, and 2) global warming.
>> Nobody mentioned the fact that last year (2015) Australia mined and shipped
>>          150,000,000,000 kg
>> of coal, primarily to China.   China imports about
>>          190,000.000.000 kg per year  - primarily from Indonesia and
>> Australia.
>> Why does the government allow this to happen? Because coal exports make up
>> about 15% of Australia's GDP (~1 Billion $) and there is no comparable
>> measure of the value of the GBR against which to balance the economic and
>> social welfare from these two sources.
>> The solution to this is NOT to use questionable economic surveys to
>> inflate the economic value of reefs.  NOAA has tried this approach and the
>> results are not pretty.  Rather we should urge our governments to take a
>> broader view of the economic AND social value of all activities so that a
>> better balance can be achieved.
>> Methods to conduct a true ecosystem valuation were developed by ecologists
>> cumulating (my opinion) with the work of de Groot in 1992 (Functions of
>> Nature: Evaluation of Nature in Environmental Planning, Management, and
>> Decision-making).  Unfortunately (for us biologists) this methodology has
>> been conscripted by the economists.  The method was further developed and
>> used to create the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) which calculated
>> the "value" of all the worlds ecosystems.    Fortunately many large
>> international organization (mostly outside the US) have adopted methods
>> that incorporate the quantification of all ecosystem functions and services
>> as part of their large project planning and funding activities.  Anyone
>> interested in the approach to saving reefs should look into the work of the
>> World Resources Institute, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, or
>> the United Nations Environmental Program.  Many good universities now have
>> programs that concentrate on this
>>    topic.
>> NOAA, USFWS, EPA and USACE would all benefit from adopting a similar
>> strategy based upon analyses of ecosystem functions and services.
>> Perhaps to save the reefs, one must become an economist........ just a bit.
>> Aloha
>> Bob Bourke
>> Environmental Scientist
>> Oceanit, Hawaii
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov  [mailto:coral-list-bounces@
>> coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Douglas Fenner
>> Sent: Wednesday, August 17, 2016 10:40 PM
>> To: coral list<coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
>> Subject: [Coral-List] Two news stories about coral reefs
>> Five things we can do right now to save the Great Barrier Reef
>> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__www.
>> theguardian.com_australia-2Dnews_commentisfree_2016_jun_
>> 13_five-2Dthings-2Dwe-2Dcan-2Ddo-2Dright-2Dnow-2Dto-2Dsave-2Dthe-2Dgreat-
>> 2Dbarrier-2Dreef&d=DQICAg&c=7MSSWy9Bs2yocjNQzurxOQ&r=
>> mxnjGj1-K1cYCH-JH1g-7Q&m=b5Z465Sz0hHCaYr9bVMHUELneUBLQ1
>> r_rPZA0HfE1ac&s=nyB2rpbJLgFJ_crVA2Au9m9RNipwE8tEOqnfIH2aUdM&e=
>> The coral die-off crisis is a climate crime, and Exxon fired the gun.
>> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__www.
>> theguardian.com_environment_2016_aug_17_the-2D&d=DQICAg&c=
>> 7MSSWy9Bs2yocjNQzurxOQ&r=mxnjGj1-K1cYCH-JH1g-7Q&m=
>> b5Z465Sz0hHCaYr9bVMHUELneUBLQ1r_rPZA0HfE1ac&s=
>> w7ZVq8ZeJ7vyDL16zy9sGRoQ9OAazzpH4L82sSZDbP4&e=
>> coral-die-off-crisis-is-a-climate-and-exxon-fired-the-gun?CMP=share_btn_tw
>> Cheers,  Doug
>> --
>> Douglas Fenner
>> Contractor for NOAA NMFS, and consultant "have regulator, will travel"
>> PO Box 7390
>> Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799  USA
>> phone 1 684 622-7084
>> Join the International Society for Reef Studies.  Membership includes a
>> subscription to the journal Coral Reefs, and there are discounts for pdf
>> subscriptions and developing countries.  Coral Reefs is the only journal
>> that is ALL coral reef articles, and it has amazingly LOW prices compared
>> to other journals.  Check it out!www.fit.edu/isrs/
>> "Belief in climate change is optional, participation is not."- Jim Beever.
>>    "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own
>> facts."- Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
>> Earth's hot streak continues with warmest May since at least 1880.
>> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__www.
>> yahoo.com_news_climate-2Djust-2Dphoning-2Dnow-2Dmay-
>> 2D193634823.html&d=DQICAg&c=7MSSWy9Bs2yocjNQzurxOQ&r=
>> mxnjGj1-K1cYCH-JH1g-7Q&m=b5Z465Sz0hHCaYr9bVMHUELneUBLQ1
>> r_rPZA0HfE1ac&s=3FCj39T3ks1LG-qQaMD28hdrDRpibCsMFJsYeStfoAA&e=
>> The political hurdles facing a carbon tax- and how to overcome them.
>> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.vox.
>> com_2016_4_26_11470804_carbon-2Dtax-2Dpolitical-2Dconstraints&d=DQICAg&c=
>> 7MSSWy9Bs2yocjNQzurxOQ&r=mxnjGj1-K1cYCH-JH1g-7Q&m=
>> b5Z465Sz0hHCaYr9bVMHUELneUBLQ1r_rPZA0HfE1ac&s=hiSBO9d_
>> 4iiAY2D4RWd7sQgAgVyZFLrVSK1zIpFL8Ec&e=
>> Solar can power more than 100 times America's current electricity needs, a
>> new report finds
>> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.
>> theclimategroup.org_what-2Dwe-2Ddo_news-2Dand-2Dblogs_solar-
>> 2Dcan-2Dpower-2Dmore-2Dthan-2D100-2Dtimes-2Damericas-
>> 2Dcurrent-2Delectricity-2Dneeds-2Dnew-2Dreport-2Dfinds&d=DQICAg&c=
>> 7MSSWy9Bs2yocjNQzurxOQ&r=mxnjGj1-K1cYCH-JH1g-7Q&m=
>> b5Z465Sz0hHCaYr9bVMHUELneUBLQ1r_rPZA0HfE1ac&s=uyjZnXNfJDROfpONDKD-
>> Zggaib7tjwz4M3C3kuYetjo&e=
>> website:https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__
>> independent.academia.edu_DouglasFenner&d=DQICAg&c=
>> 7MSSWy9Bs2yocjNQzurxOQ&r=mxnjGj1-K1cYCH-JH1g-7Q&m=
>> b5Z465Sz0hHCaYr9bVMHUELneUBLQ1r_rPZA0HfE1ac&s=
>> blog:https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__ocean.
>> si.edu_blog_reefs-2Damerican-2Dsamoa-2Dstory-2Dhope&d=DQICAg&c=
>> 7MSSWy9Bs2yocjNQzurxOQ&r=mxnjGj1-K1cYCH-JH1g-7Q&m=
>> b5Z465Sz0hHCaYr9bVMHUELneUBLQ1r_rPZA0HfE1ac&s=giWesErTz-
>> nKigwXTb7Nxvj3bdYa6QLNrz8WWSyaRWU&e=
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John C. Ogden
USF Professor Emeritus, Integrative Biology
190 18th Avenue North
St. Petersburg, FL 33704 USA
Cell: 727-641-4673
Email:jogden at usf.edu

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