[Coral-List] Is any reef "remote?"

Dennis Hubbard dennis.hubbard at oberlin.edu
Thu May 18 16:52:04 EDT 2017


I agree and DO understand your concern. However, let me offer a different
perspective that is uncharacteristically optimistic for me.I made a
realization awhile back that I was missing something on the role of "local
action". Being a "sophisticated scientist", I often scoffed at local
efforts like getting pre- and grade-schoolers to plant trees. I found
myself thinking, "what a waste.... don't they get that they can't solve the
emissions problems by just planting trees?"

While I can't remember the particular occasion (I remember less and less as
time passes - too much to remember I guess), I distinctly recall "getting
it" by not looking at it quite so objectively. I realized that, if that kid
thinks "this is my tree" and worries about it, the next step is worrying
about other trees..... and eventually trees in general. So, the idea wasn't
to "solve the problem, one kid/tree at a time".... or, if I could borrow
your phrase, "do X and....  all will be well with the TREES". The idea is
to create buy-in subliminally at an early age - just like how the World
Bank and the WTO sneak in the, "it's all about the dollars" mentality that
leads to....... well, dare I say our administration?

I do understand that climate change "trumps" all. However, I can't
objectively quantify the relative impact of one strategy versus another....
and how that changes from one place to another. All else the same,
proximity to centers of stress matters..... but some reefs far from
populations have trouble too.... oh yeah, some close to seemingly stressful
situations (be it a city or a raging volcano) do fine in the long run; some
"well-managed" reefs far from population enters have done fine
historically... only to collapse more recently; some that we have left for
dead have arisen from the grave. So, how can we possibly turn these
vignettes into a universal management strategy?

I suggest that we stop trying to figure out which is the "better" or
"not-so-good" strategy and applaud folks for trying. And, don't take this
as my going off the deep and and getting mushy - it may be as simple as
"let's just not kid ourselves that we can do anything".... but then we'd
all have to get real jobs.

Younger researchers perceive "decline" on a different scale than those of
us who were fortunate enough to see reefs in far better shape in general -
and I'll bet our view of "pristine" is just as far off as theirs (hindsight
shows us that the decline had already begun in the "good old days" when we
were just out of school. From a geological perspective, when I think of the
"good old days", I'm thinking "early Holocene"... sea level was screaming
up, but was slowing to ca. 3.3 mm/yr at a time when the foundations of most
of the reefs presently at sea level were just coming into their own.
Unfortunately for reefs today, we're at that same 3.3 mm/yr threshold, but
the change is going in the "wrong" direction.We could wish that coral
growth = reef building and, therefore, that sea level can't ever get as
fast as corals/reefs can "grow". If wishes were horses......


On Wed, May 17, 2017 at 2:45 PM, Steve Mussman <sealab at earthlink.net> wrote:

> Dear Mike and Dennis,
> Bear with me on this for a moment please. I don't think that anybody who
> seriously studies these issue is going to advocate that we disregard
> efforts to manage local stressors. These projects need to be continually
> encouraged and supported, but at the same time I strongly believe that
> local reef conservation efforts need to make it clear that local action is
> not, in and of itself, a cure all. The problem I have with some (local)
> conservation projects is that they can give the impression that if we do X
> (e.g. eliminate debris or invasive lionfish) that all will be well with the
> reefs.  I realize that some conservationists are avoiding the mention of
> climate change in an effort to maintain widespread support, but this smacks
> of some sort of "reverse political correctness" if you will. What's wrong
> with telling it like it is? We need to do a lot of things differently if we
> are to have any chance of conserving coral reefs for future generations.
> Truth be told, we need both local and global action, neither is
> expendable.         Steve
> Sent from my iPad
> > On May 16, 2017, at 3:24 PM, Risk, Michael <riskmj at mcmaster.ca> wrote:
> >
> >
> >   On the contrary. In previous posts, I have said that we need to focus
> on the
> >   local,  because  we  have some control over that (active tourism works
> >   wonders). If, for example, we project Gardner's curve/trend into the
> future,
> >   and use Florida as an example, we can see that the world's reefs will
> all
> >   have (vast majority) been dead decades before the oceans reach their
> thermal
> >   limit. Think globally, act locally..
> >   You are an American-I will put it to you like this. Do you think you
> would
> >   have more success convincing your friends and neighbours to check out
> the
> >   sewage disposal systems of any proposed holiday resorts, or convincing
> your
> >   country to give up fossil fuels?
> >   One is possible, and will produce results. The other...ins'allah.
> >   (Sorry-"neighbors".)
> >   Mike
> >     _________________________________________________________________
> >
> >   From: Dennis Hubbard [dennis.hubbard at oberlin.edu]
> >   Sent: May 16, 2017 2:10 PM
> >   To: Risk, Michael
> >   Cc: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> >   Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Is any reef "remote?"
> >   Just to play devil's advocate (as someone who thinks of myself as
> largely a
> >   "climate scientist"), does anyone think that we need to just give up
> on all
> >   locally based management and focus on emissions because, "unless we
> change
> >   that, nothing else matters"?
> >   Dennis
> >   On Tue, May 16, 2017 at 9:15 AM, Risk, Michael <[1]riskmj at mcmaster.
> .ca>
> >   wrote:
> >
> >        For those of you who may still harbour the belief that there are
> reefs
> >        isolated from human impacts:
> >        [2]http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-39931042
> >     _______________________________________________
> >     Coral-List mailing list
> >     [3]Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> >     [4]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"
> >
> > References
> >
> >   1. mailto:riskmj at mcmaster.ca
> >   2. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-39931042
> >   3. mailto:Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> >   4. http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
> > _______________________________________________
> > 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*"

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