[Coral-List] Taking Action Re: Evidence that ocean warming has caused most Caribbean coral loss
sfrias_torres at hotmail.com
Fri Apr 28 11:47:37 EDT 2017
When I worked at NASA, Kennedy Space Center, there was a little joke going around that said: To fix a problem, lock 9 scientists and 1 engineer in one room. The scientists will come up with many hypotheses to test and numbers, and the engineer will put it all together and fix the problem.
Of course, this is over enthusiastic and partial to engineers. But there's a point to it.
We have enough information to take action as one unified front. We have reached enough critical mass to be significant.
Now, we just need to find the "engineer/s" who will catalyze the reaction.
This is our last stand to save coral reefs.
Can we look beyond our differences are take action?
Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D.
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov <coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml..noaa.gov> on behalf of Risk, Michael <riskmj at mcmaster.ca>
Sent: Thursday, April 27, 2017 12:35 PM
To: Steve Mussman
Cc: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov; Bruno, John
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Evidence that ocean warming has caused most Caribbean coral loss
There is certainly little to disagree with in your statement. I take an even
more nuanced and pessimistic position-if it is indeed possible to be more
pessimistic than “looming extinction.”
Some years ago, I posted on this same list comments to the effect that sure,
global warming will put an end to coral reefs: but it really will only be
kicking over the edge of the cliff those poor sad remnants that remain after
we humans have messed with them.
We need to bear in mind that the world had already lost a lot of reefs,
perhaps more than half the original total, by the time climate change began
to ramp up. Yes, undoubtedly, we need to band together and speak with one
voice about reducing outputs of carbon dioxide. At the same time, I wonder:
where was that unanimity of purpose in the past, when the impacts of
land-based sources of pollution were obvious? Reef biologists chased after
various hypotheses-the reefs will come back if only the fish come back, or
if the urchins come back, or… while ignoring the gorilla in the room.
I do not really understand why this happened. Perhaps there was fear to
challenge vested interests; perhaps there was money to be made consulting
for developers and saying nutrients were unimportant; perhaps the trees of
individual careers were pursued inside the forest of gathering decline.
Perhaps the biologists who dominate this field were loath to tackle aspects
of chemistry and geology involved in pollution and sedimentation studies..
Those really interested in maintaining reefs need to bear in mind that there
have been (to the best of my always-incomplete knowledge) only two studies
on what happens to reefs if you improve the water quality: one Caribbean,
one Pacific. In both cases, the reefs improved. In neither case should this
have come as a surprise.
In short, I agree with you that we need a unified front, and my opinion is
that the need is all the greater because there was not a unified front 30
years ago. We have lost the opportunity to see how well truly unstressed
reefs respond to ocean warming. The news from the Northern GBR is truly
appalling-but as Charles says, recovery is another story.
I echo Charles’ sentiments, that we are conditioned by the reefs we have
seen. To me, a trip into the future was always epitomized by the transect
going from the outer Pulau Seribu (Thousand Islands) into the harbour at
Jakarta. One goes from lush coral islands (though severely over-fished),
past impoverished reefs, past some reefs that are now no more (see Tom
Tomascik’s poignant descriptions) and finally into an azoic sea-floor out of
the Archean. That’s what the future holds.
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