[Coral-List] carbon offsetting AND the need for innovative problem solvers to halt climate change

Franziska Elmer franziskaelmer at hotmail.com
Mon May 13 19:54:51 UTC 2019

Dear Maria and coral listers,

I agree that communicating and connecting on a global scale as scientists is extremely important. However, in these changing times, it seems like we might be wasting our time (while emitting a huge amount of carbon) going to conferences to discuss our latest findings on how climate change and other antropogenic drivers affect coral reefs. We know very well how climate change affects nature and humans, we do not need to study it more to get every little detail discovered, instead we have to start focus our energy on actions that reduce emissions (a bit like "know when you have to stop reading and start writing"). I do not see how a traditional natural science focussed conference will help much in fighting climate change, as this is a problem to be solved through social science. Instead we should communicate and connect globally in finding solutions to lower our carbon emissions as scientists. How can we keep studying coral reefs  and  communcate our findings without destroying them through extensive travel for fieldwork and conferences.

Do I have any thoughts, ideas or are there any developments in making conferences more sustainable?
I asked the organizers of the ICRS the same question about a month ago and did not get a reply back, seems like they have no thoughts, ideas or developments, which is fine because I might was the first person asking them and why should they come up with solutions due to the concerns of a single person. I asked them because I was looking for good ideas to bring to the board meeting of the Association of Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean (AMLC). The board meeting is next weekend and we will discuss the climate crisis during it and hopefully declare a climate emergeny. If we declare this emergency, the AMLC will have to use the innovative thinking of its members to come up with ideas to change the way we hold conferences and board meetings. For this, a climate change brainstorming session is scheduled during the scientifist meeting that follows the board meeting. I will share the ideas we generated during this meeting with corallist. Hopefully some can be used during ICRS next year and in the future. But participants of the AMLC meeting only have to cross the Caribbean Sea, solutions regarding more sustainanble travel will therefore likely not be very applicable to ICRS or other global conferences. Fortunately, since there are more people planning to attend ICRS than the AMLC meeting (150 people) , it also means more innovative brains that can come up with solutions for the meeting in Bremen. We have a whole year until the ICRS meeting, lots of time to implement important carbon emission reduction measurements.

If anyone has any thoughts or ideas on how to reduce the carbon emissions of the AMLC conference, please share them with me, so I can present them to the AMLC board next weekend.

AMLC treasurer
Marine Ecology Faculty at School for Field Studies, Turks and Caicos Islands

Sent from the octopuses garden.

-------- Ursprüngliche Nachricht --------
Von: MariaJung89 at t-online.de
Datum: 12.05.19 10:48 (GMT-05:00)
An: Franziska Elmer <franziskaelmer at hotmail.com>, emmalassiter at gmail.com, coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Betreff: AW: [Coral-List] carbon offsetting AND the need for innovative problem solvers to halt climate change

Hi Emma, Franziska and all coral listers,

I´m glad this topis has been raised which I personally think is very important and overdue. I absolutely agree that avoiding/reducing is much better than offsetting.

My motivation to study Marine Biology was ocean conservation and I ended up studying the resilience of corals to bleaching and their capacity to recovery. A very important aspect since bleaching events are increasing in frequency and severity - which we all know and this is highlighted in every paper we write and in every conference talk we give.
However, to do so, I travelled from Bremen to Australia which brings an enormous amount of CO2 emissions with it. Ironically, to be able to attend the ICRS next year, I would have to do the same the other way around since I no longer live in Bremen. So unfortunately, I´m contributing more to the climate crisis than to its solutions and I´m sure that I´m not alone with these thoughts since many projects require field trips/meetings all over the world.

Without doubt - conferences like the ICRS are extremely important because a large proportion in science is based on communicating and connecting on a global scale. Nevertheless, I think there is an urgent need of improving our networking and maybe even moving away from the "traditional" science structure so that we will be able to organize global (and regional) conferences/meetings in a sustainable way which exeeds the important aspect of avoiding/reducing plastics at the events. This is necessary since we are already in the middle of the climate crisis.

So my question is: Are there any thoughts/ideas/developments towards alternative approaches, for example purely online-based conferences? This would perhaps also be a good topic for a session at ICRS?

I´m looking forward to reading your comments, ideas, inputs.


Maria Jung
M.Sc. Marine Biology

Betreff: Re: [Coral-List] carbon offsetting AND the need for innovative problem solvers to halt climate change
Datum: 2019-05-10T15:00:15+0200
Von: "Franziska Elmer via Coral-List" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
An: "emmalassiter at gmail.com" <emmalassiter at gmail.com>, "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>

Hi emma and coral listers,

Awesome to hear you want to assess the quality of carbon offsetters. I think this is veey important. Please let me know what you find out. I personally use either of these whenever i fly:
 i like this one because they plant seagrass which is important for coral reefs. But i dont know how well they monitor the plots so I am unsure if they are a good program of actually offsetting what they say they offset (if you find out please let me know)

I like myclimate because i know their story and they were one of the first offsetters out there (if not the first). I trust their offsetting as they have strict standards they follow. Plus they are swiss like me.

Please also keep in mind that offsetting is only the last option. Reducing is much better and with the severity of the climate change problem (a crisis), every conservationist or environmentally concious person should focus in reducing their footprint drastically and only offset what is not possible to reduce. Put time and energy asside to work on reduction plans and think outside the box:  can meetings be combined, can they be done via video, can you take the train, bus, a boat instead? What could you accomplish in the extra time given to you if you choose to travel at a slower pace? Undisturbed working time to finish up a manuscript may not be a drawback but a bonus from less carbon intensive travels.

As conservationist who want society and our governments to take climate change serious we have to speak with actions. The next ICRS meeting in 2020 for example will likely make a statement about climate change and may call for rapid and unproceeded actions. But how strong is that statement going to be if the conference is held like it has always been with 1000s of people flying to Bremen from all over the world? By then we have know about the rapid and unproceeded changes that need to be done for almost 2 years and were inactive in transforming our conference for almost 1/6 of the time we have to act to save the coral reefs and a livable planet. The statement made at the end of the conference will be a lot stronger if we make a big effort to reduce (not offset) the emissions caused by it. Either hold several smaller meetings that people can travel to without flying. Or have as many people as possible arrive by cargo ships, trains and other low carbon ways of transport. Or cancel the
 conference and ask participants to dedicate that week towards actions that will lead to climate justice. All these actions would speak strongly for the severity of the situation. If we continue as we are now, we will reach 1.5 degrees warming in 15.5 years (https://climateclock.net) after that our coral reefs will go extinct and we will have to find new careers. Our number one priority should be to reduce carbon emissions drastically world wide and we should dedicate a large amountof our time and energy towards this.

There is still hope and we are smart innovative people with an incredible talent for creative problem solving. Think back to a time in your career, when you had an impossible problem to solve and little time and money to do so, either in the field, in the lab, working with locals or wherever else. Let this inspire you of what you are capable of doing. And then use this talent to find creative solutions to lower your own, your companies, your countries or the worlds carbon emissions. We are some of the smartest and most talented creative problem solvers on this planet and our talents are desperately needed to solve this crisis.

Sorry for going a bit off topic but I think this is very important to be said.

Franziska Elmer
Marine Ecology Lecturer
School for Field Studies
Turks and Caicos Islands
Felmer at fieldstudies.org

Sent from the octopuses garden.
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