[Coral-List] Coral mortality in a warmer and acidified ocean

Douglas Fenner douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
Wed Feb 8 21:25:47 EST 2017

I believe the consensus statement Steve was referring to can be found at

Cheers,  Doug

On Wed, Feb 8, 2017 at 11:31 AM, Steve Mussman <sealab at earthlink.net> wrote:

> Dear Mike,
> I take no issue with any "messenger" posting a link to an "interesting
> paper" for listers to read and judge solely on its merits. However, in this
> case, the paper was not left to stand on its own merits. It was presented
> with a review from a questionable source that included a conclusion which
> appears to misrepresent the findings. According to the lead author,
> although "coral have potential to cope with climate change (Acrpora lineage
> lesson) . . . this does not mean that they will cope if changes are too
> drastic, too fast... " In my opinion, the review from CO2 Science clearly
> distorts this central point and therefore brings into question the intent
> and motivation involved. As for the prioritization of major threats, I may
> have overstated the facts, but I look to the ICRS Consensus Statement that
> came out in 2012 for guidance on arranging current threat designations.
> Sorry for dragging this out.
> Regards,
> Steve
> Sent from my iPad
> > On Feb 7, 2017, at 3:39 PM, Risk, Michael <riskmj at mcmaster.ca> wrote:
> >
> > Hello Steve.
> >
> > This thread has gone on for a while, partly in a circular fashion, and
> probably for too long. Thank you for your response, and thank you for
> taking the time to read the paper. (In my opinion, some early responders
> had failed to do that.)
> >
> > I thought I had made myself abundantly clear-evidently I failed. Let me
> try again.
> >
> > I am well aware of the garbage that comes out of sites like CO2 Science..
> I know some of their funding sources, I know their slant. Hell has no pit
> deep enough, etc. But we must not make the error of behaving as they do,
> shooting messengers and judging guilt by association. If Gene is kind
> enough (or perverse enough!) to post  a link to an interesting paper, then
> it is on us to read that paper and judge it solely on its merits.
> >
> > As far as the paper, and the comments from the author: sure.
> Self-evident. My focus was not on whether Acropora will survive in the
> future, but the implications of the research to the recent extinction
> event. (I used "extinction event" in a report I co-authored for NOAA,
> describing the Florida situation >10 years ago-that phrase was removed by
> the admin.)
> >
> > I have worked on threats to reefs for some decades now, and was unaware
> the major threats had been prioritized. I wonder if you would be kind
> enough to point me to a site where general agreement has been reached,
> based on good science, and suitable mitigation mechanisms proposed?
> >
> > The reason I raise this point is-the header to this thread, "warmer and
> acidified oceans." I would argue that most of the coral deaths we have seen
> so far-repeat, so far-have been caused neither by warmer waters nor by
> acidic oceans. The paper we are discussing speaks directly to this issue.
> >
> > Mike
> > ________________________________________
> > From: Steve Mussman [sealab at earthlink.net]
> > Sent: February 7, 2017 2:18 PM
> > To: Risk, Michael
> > Cc: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov;  Pedro H. Rodríguez
> > Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Coral mortality in a warmer and acidified ocean
> >
> > Dear Mike,
> >
> > I read "the freakin paper" and don't take issue with it, but the
> conclusions or "take home message" reached in the review by CO2 Science (to
> which Gene made reference) is another matter all together. That is what I'm
> objecting to. As we have established, CO2 Science is a questionable source
> and therefore their assessment should be considered suspect as should
> anyone who repeatedly uses them in citations. To be sure that my
> interpretation of the paper was correct, I contacted the lead author of the
> study to determine if he agreed with CO2 Science's analysis of the paper
> and it appears that he clearly takes issue with their conclusions.  This is
> how he explained it to me: (I have his permission to quote) " . . . we have
> a proof that phylogenetic lineage of Acropora was stable through long
> period of radical changes of the seawater chemistry. We observe exactly the
> same biomineralization style (mostly physiological control), the same
> calcium carbonate polymorphism of the skeleton - all suggest  ability of
> this coral to adopt to the changes. HOWEVER, we are talking about Acropora,
> the richest coral genus of modern reefs - great biodiversity, also in the
> past. So actually we don't know how many individual species went extinct
> because of these seawater chemistry changes. Of course corals are
> threatened by contemporary climate change and associated pH levels. But the
> fossil record provides arguments, that if biodiversity is large enough,
> corals (like Acropora) may ultimately survive even pretty severe climate
> change. It's like bacterial potential to cope with antibiotics: millions
> will be killed but few will survive and will preserve genetic information
> of this lineage. To sum up, I think coral have potential to cope with
> climate change (Acrpora lineage lesson) but this does not mean that they
> will cope if changes are too drastic, too fast... "  As I see it, this is
> in line with all the science that I have read. I also think that the marine
> sciences have already clearly identified and prioritized the major threats
> involved. In my opinion, It's time we acted on it.
> >
> > Regards,
> > Steve
> >
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Douglas Fenner
Contractor for NOAA NMFS, and consultant
"have regulator, will travel"
PO Box 7390
Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799  USA

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