[Coral-List] Has the death of the Great Barrier Reef been greatly exaggerated??

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Wed Oct 19 14:03:43 EDT 2016

   Dear Halard,
   Although it was a bit disconcerting to hear that your students did not
   recognize the satirical nature of the article/obituary in Outside Magazine
   lion-bc-2016), it seems to have presented a great teaching opportunity.
   I would start out by asking them if they believed that the last paragraph of
   the obituary was true based on their current knowledge of the state of the
   world's coral reefs. Here is what it said: "The Great Barrier Reef was
   predeceased by the South Pacific’s Coral Triangle, the Florida Reef off the
   Florida Keys, and most other coral reefs on earth. It is survived by the
   remnants of the Belize Barrier Reef and some deepwater corals". If they know
   a little about coral reefs they might be able to pick up on the sarcasm and
   then you could expand on to the real intent of the piece. As to what the
   appropriate response to the obituary should be, that is the big question. As
   I see it, the message emanating from the marine sciences today is somewhat
   in need of clarification. The general public if coral- conscious hears about
   many issues that are adversely affecting coral reefs. The lionfish invasion,
   marine debris, sunscreen and even diver interactions with the reef are all
   problematic, but are these issues being presented in the proper context? If
   someone frames any of these problems as "life threatening" to the reefs
   should they be corrected or reinforced? I am of the mind that believes that
   threats to the reefs ought to be prioritized with climate change, land-based
   pollutants and over-fishing to be emphasized, but I leave it to the experts
   (many listers included) to provide guidance and insight on that. So if this
   article deserves a reprimand, what exactly is the correct message that we
   should  be  putting out there in order to ensure that the dramatic and
   sensationalized GBR obituary remains a total misrepresentation of the facts?
      Regards, Steve
   Sent from my iPad
   On    Oct    18,    2016,    at    3:49    PM,    Lescinsky,    Halard
   <[2]hlescinsky at otterbein..edu> wrote:

   The article in question was featured prominently on Facebook, and was
   widely distributed and read by many people with little interest or
   knowledge about reefs.  My experience was that over the weekend I was with
   a group of friends and was asked out of the blue if the it was true the
   Great Barrier Reef had died..  The conversation stopped as many in the group
   had also heard this and  truly want to know.  I was a little perplexed not
   having known the origin of the rumor, but filled in the background about El
   Nino and bleaching, and the difference between dead coral and the
   structural reef and its inhabitants.  Monday morning I caught up on Coral
   List and sent a rebuttal link to a couple of my friends one of who texted
   back "Good.  That makes me feel better"  .  Today I taught two sections
   of my general ed science course on Coral Reefs and before I had even
   started the first lecture a student had approached me to ask if it was
   true.  I had planned ahead and put a link to the original article and a
   rebuttal into my lecture and made it an area of discussion for the
   day.  More than half the students in each of the two sections had seen the
   obituary, and I'd say they seemed to have lots of concerns, and not one
   thought is was satirical or a possible future event.  They read it as a
   news feed.
   While I was glad to have something to discuss and to have some truly
   concerned and interested students, I guess I am more worried about the
   "crying wolf" effect.  Its hard to explain both that reefs aren't dead and
   that their predicament was exaggerated while at the same time stressing
   that they are still in fact in dire danger going forward... its easy to
   lose the subtleties in such conversations.
   In anycase, this is BIG NEWS among Americans on Facebook (I don't know
   about elsewhere), and at least those in the US should plan a response
   because we will probably be asked..
   On    Tue,    Oct    18,    2016    at   9:58   AM,   Dennis   Hubbard
   <[3]dennis.hubbard at oberlin.edu>

     As I remember, there was a disclaimer that this was a "future" obituary.

     have waaaaaaaaaaay too much time on our hands if we spend any time going

     back and forth on this one.


     On Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 11:07 AM, Steve Mussman <[4]sealab at earthlink.net>


       Dear Doug,

       Yes, it seems that the article/obituary has set off a firestorm. I



       as  satire, but it seems that many readers and scientific purists felt

       betrayed. Does it hurt legitimate science? Does it fuel indifference


       hopelessness?  I'm not sure, but it did get people talking about the


       of coral reefs and I believe that's better than neglect.. After all,


       higher purpose of satire is to be sure to infuse it with "the intent


       shaming  individuals, corporations, government, or society itself into

       improvement". You can't deny that in that sense, this is exactly what


       coral doctor ordered.

       Regards, Steve

       ---Original Message-----

     From: Douglas Fenner

     Sent: Oct 17, 2016 4:19 AM

     To: coral list

     Subject: [Coral-List] Has the death of the Great Barrier Reef been

         greatly exaggerated??

     Here's the piece that seems to have started this debate off:

     Obituary: Great Barrier Reef (25 million BC- 2016)




     A quick search on "is the Great Barrier Reef dead" produced a



     hits, including:

     Great Barrier Reef obituary goes viral, to the horror of






     An irresponsible obituary for the Great Barrier Reef has gone



     what's actually going on.




     The Great Barrier Reef isn't dead, in spite of its viral obituary



     and many more.

     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



     subscription to the journal Coral Reefs, and there are discounts



     subscriptions and developing countries. Coral Reefs is the only


     that is ALL coral reef articles, and it has amazingly LOW prices


     to other journals. Check it out! [9]www.fit.edu/isrs/

     "Belief in climate change is optional, participation is not."- Jim


     "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own


     Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

     Policy: hasten the end of dated fossil-fuel subsidies






     Visuallizing the warmest August in 136 years.




     website: [12]http://independent.academia.edu/DouglasFenner

     blog: [13]http://ocean..si.edu/blog/reefs-american-samoa-story-hope


     Coral-List mailing list

     [14]Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov



     Coral-List mailing list

     [16]Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov



     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*"


     Coral-List mailing list

     [18]Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov


   Coral-List mailing list
   [20]Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov


   1. https://www.outsideonline.com/2112086/obituary-great-barrier-reef-25-million-bc-2016
   2. mailto:hlescinsky at otterbein.edu
   3. mailto:dennis.hubbard at oberlin.edu
   4. mailto:sealab at earthlink.net
   5. http://www.outsideonline.com/2112086/obituary-great-
   6. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/scientists-take-on-
   7. http://www.businessinsider.com/coral-bleaching-viral-
   8. https://www.yahoo..com/news/great-barrier-reef-isnt-dead-
   9. http://www.fit.edu/isrs/
  10. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v538/n7624/full/
  11. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/blogs/earthmatters/2016/
  12. http://independent.academia.edu/DouglasFenner
  13. http://ocean.si.edu/blog/reefs-american-samoa-story-hope
  14. mailto:Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
  15. http://coral.aoml..noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
  16. mailto:Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
  17. http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
  18. mailto:Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
  19. http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
  20. mailto:Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
  21. http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

More information about the Coral-List mailing list