[Coral-List] More on the Anthropocene, coral reefs and US politics

Dennis Hubbard dennis.hubbard at oberlin.edu
Sat Nov 26 11:34:11 EST 2016

Hi Peter:

Interesting post. Can you provide a direct link to the presentation and the
"near unanimous recommendation"? I'd be interested in looking at both more
closely. There is no doubt that we are having an tremendous (and negative)
impact on this and many other fronts.... and this is not likely to improve
with the pro-business and anti-regulatory measures that have been at the
center of the proposed presidential agenda.

However, there is a very rigid naming process in the geoological community
that works quite differently than either the more consensus-based
biological system for changing species names... or even the IPCC process.
One of the thresholds for renaming a geologic time interval involves its
duration and leaving a recognizable and interpretable record. I forget what
the length of time is for creating the shortest recognizable geological
interval, but it is MUCH longer than anything we have seen so far. Remember
that, for example, the Pleistocene has been broken down into shorter SL
intervals based on measurable isotope shifts; these are ca 125,000 years
each. So, it is temporally inconsistent to conflate isotopic changes on the
scale of the oldest living coral to those of the Pleistocene
"sub-units".,,, and even those would never behave not been given a geologic

The compromise proposed awhile back was anthropocene with a little "a" to
distinguish it from a real geologic era. For example, Anthropocene (big A)
would elevate the present situation above the PalEocene thermal maximum
(PETM), one of the most profound intervals in earth 's climate history -
and that one didn't even get a geologic interval named after it. So, if we
were ready to declare the present situation equal to a sudden event that
moved the tropical border to somewhere in Alaska, then we might consider
the MHPM (Mid-Holocene Thermal Maximum). In any event, the Anthgpopocene
violates long-established norms.

I will grant that it may be time to re-examine these standards. But, if we
are to do this, then we need to be equally welcome to changing* Orbicella
annularis* to Uncle Bob if enough non-biologists vote to do so .



On Thu, Nov 24, 2016 at 6:38 PM, Peter Sale <sale at uwindsor.ca> wrote:

> Hi listers,
> After the thread on politics on the list dwindled to its end, I put some
> thoughts together for my blog.  It looks at evidence we are definitely in
> the Anthropocene, recent progress on global climate change politics, and
> what the election of Donald Trump might do to momentum.  I don't provide
> much new information on reefs, but do argue that the coral reef story is
> very important, and should be articulated much more effectively, and in new
> ways, so that what is happening to coral reefs around the world becomes a
> clearly recognized symbol for what we are risking by continuing our
> planet-trashing ways.  The Anthropocene could become a roller coaster ride
> to hell, and coral reefs tell us we are all seated on that roller coaster.
> The link is at www.petersalebooks.com/?p=2338<http://www.petersalebooks.
> com/?p=2338>
> Peter Sale
> sale at uwindsor.ca<mailto:sale at uwindsor.ca>
> @PeterSale3
> www.petersalebooks.com
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

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*"

More information about the Coral-List mailing list