[Coral-List] Deteriorating ethical norms - one more factor degrading our capacity to respond to coral bleaching

Martin Moe martin_moe at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 12 14:51:11 EDT 2017

Peter, I think it is difficult, very difficult, to raise ethicalstandards to protect our environment when the basis of the world’s economy isgrowth and development. But that won’t change any time soon and we must doeverything we can to raise awareness of the drastic state of our naturalresources and create the will to stem if not reverse the physical andecological changes that threaten our future.
There are two basic elements to prompting public engagementwith environmental issues. The first is the acquisition of knowledge, the whatand why of environmental protection; and the second is not only how toimplement this knowledge into personal behavior but also how to provide astimulus to enhance the spread of environmental knowledge and protectivebehavior of our natural resources to others. A while back, I wrote the belowpersonal code of ethics with the hope that it may help to educate visitors andresidents of the Florida Keys to not only accept and comply with the rules andregulations that protect our environment, but to also encourage others todevelop the understanding and behavior that supports environmental care andprotection.
My feeling was, and is, that this, or something like this,if presented in the right way, in the right places, at the right time could beinstrumental in raising awareness of, and stimulating compliance with, the basicelements of environmental care in the use of our natural resources. As it iswritten it is directed toward the Florida Keys and the Florida Keys NationalMarine Sanctuary. It can easily be directed more broadly or more narrowly asthe application requires. It has not yet been widely distributed, and I havehad both rejection and acceptance from those that have read it, but for themost part reaction has been positive. 

I claim no ownership or authorship in any use of the code asit is, or concern with any use or any changes that may be made. It is only anidea that may be useful. Any organization may use it in any way that will helppreserve and protect the environment and natural resources of the Florida Keys.Any organization or business may add their logo and address, change it as theysee fit, and use it any way that will be helpful to their interests and thepreservation and conservation of our environment. If we have no concern aboutleaving a healthy and vibrant ecosystem, ecology, and economy for futuregenerations, then let us care, protect, and restore what we have now for ourfuture and the future of our children.
 Martin Moe    
 A personal Code of Ethics for visiting and living in theFlorida Keys I understand the fragile nature of the unique, beautiful,and rich marine environments that circle our Florida Keys, the only tropicalislands and coral reefs of the continental United States. I know that if we donot treat our coral reefs, inshore waters, and natural resources with care,respect, restraint, conservation, and preservation they will not persist forour future and the future of our children.
I know that the waste of our modern civilization: nutrients,chemicals, plastics, and all other disposable matter does not just disappearinto our waters; it persists and is greatly detrimental to the animals andecology of the Florida Keys. So to the best of my ability, I will not add mywaste to the water or the land and I will remove the waste of others as best Ican.
I know that use of our waters, sea grass meadows, and coralreefs is great and is steadily increasing, and that continued utilization ofour aquatic environments without concern and care will continue the degradation  of our reefs and our natural resources. So Iwill conserve our coral reefs, seagrass meadows, fish, lobsters, and marinelife by taking only what I need and obeying the regulations that serve topreserve the future of our natural resources. I will not wantonly destroycorals, fish, lobsters, or other marine life through greed, ignorance, orcarelessness.
I know that our coral reefs and inshore waters are in gravedecline and are in crucial need of care and restoration. So I will support andaid the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in their efforts to sustain andrepair our unique marine ecosystems.
I know that respect for our natural world is the foundationof conservation and preservation of our natural resources, and I will make thisrespect the foundation of my use and enjoyment of the great natural resourcesof our Florida Keys.
I know that others will follow my example if I communicatemy knowledge and caring, and I will take every opportunity to educate my fellowcitizens on the fragile nature of our ecosystems and how to enjoy our resourceswith minimal environmental impact.
 This is my personal commitment to the sustainable future ofthe ecosystems of my Florida Keys. I will keep this document where I will seeit frequently and use it as a reminder of my obligation to the beautiful andfragile ecosystems that provide us with a unique and wonderful way of life. 

    On Tuesday, April 11, 2017 6:50 PM, Peter Sale <sale at uwindsor.ca> wrote:

As I was about to post some comments to my blog (see http://www.petersalebooks.com/?p=2433 ) the first authoritative press release concerning the 2017 bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef was hitting the media.  That the GBR has now bleached severely in two successive years underscores the seriousness of the global environmental crisis in which we live.  It seems paradoxical that Australia, a country that has long recognized the economic and other value of its reef ecosystems, has not responded to the evidence of four serious bleachings in under 20 years by making the changes needed to rein in its own production of greenhouse gases and become a leader among nations in the fight to bring climate change under control.  This is a country with very significant intellectual and infrastructure resources when it comes to coral reef or environmental knowledge and management.  It understands the risks of losing reefs as functioning ecosystems.  It enjoys stable, reasonably democratic g
 overnment and the rule of law.  And yet, far from being a leader, Australia remains a distinctly unwilling participant in the global struggle to reduce emissions.  It seems that short-term profits from exploitation of rich coal reserves outweigh any benefits perceived to be gained by saving coral reefs.

Australia is not unique in finding it difficult to make pro-environment decisions that seem so obvious to anyone who understands environmental science...  Governmental leaders simply do not see the beneficial trade-offs of acting in favor of the environment.  I certainly do not claim to have the all the answers (or even most of them), but I do think that a generally poor and declining level of performance, when it comes to ethical norms among leaders, is an important part of the problem.  While we talk about governments, or nations, as the entities that must act on greenhouse gases, those decisions are taken by people in positions of power.  If those people find it easy to put self-interest ahead of the general good, and particularly if such behavior is tolerated by the electorate, the decisions made, ostensibly by the nations, are seldom going to weigh environmental benefits appropriately..

On top of everything else, those of us concerned to build a better future world must now also confront the need to raise ethical standards.  While I don't discuss the 2017 bleaching in the post, I do review the recent Nature report on the three previous bleachings, and the bad environmental news it reveals.  I use this as one of three recently reported e4nvironmental trends.

Peter Sale
University of Windsor, Canada
sale at uwindsor.ca

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