[Coral-List] Mixed Messages

sealab at earthlink.net sealab at earthlink.net
Sat Jul 27 17:59:18 UTC 2019

I’ve received a number of interesting responses to my inquiry and that leads me to attempt to clarify a few things. As far as points of contention in the two papers I cited, what I find most complexing are the somewhat incompatible references to the effects of water quality. One paper suggests that if water quality improved, resilience would be enhanced while the other points out that there was “no sign of bleaching protection where water quality was high”. While I’m sure that the dynamics can vary from one reef to another, this seems to be a critical point with universal implications. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were determined that every reef reacts somewhat differently to a whole host of what must be, at least to some extent, unique and asymmetrical threats.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that the waters are being muddied intentionally. The data should lead you wherever it does, but what I am implying is that we have to mindful of the fact that in today’s world swayed by sound bites and social media, even the most rigorous scientific findings can be spun, even unintentionally, by seemingly innocuous headlines like this: https://www.earth.com/video/poor-water-quality-may-be-the-biggest-threat-to-coral-reefs/ Does it matter if water quality, plastic pollution or sunscreens are hyped intermittently as the greatest threat to coral reefs? Maybe yes, maybe no, but I do know how hard it is to break through on climate change. Right now my concern is that just when we seem to be gaining traction on perhaps the most challenging of issues I react with trepidation to anything that could cause even delusory momentum headed in the right direction to suddenly slip away.


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