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

Judith Lang jlang at riposi.net
Tue May 14 20:37:39 UTC 2019

Dear Coral Listers,
Franiska has challenged us by asking, "How can we keep studying coral reefs and communcate our findings without destroying them through extensive travel for fieldwork and conferences."

It seems to me that opportunities to observe different reefs and establish good personal relationships with fellow researchers in diverse institutions are necessary for those who are beginning their careers. However, until we have transitioned to a much lower carbon economy, and addressed multiple other sources of ongoing marine pollution, I suggest that those of us who are elders can choose to travel less and expend more of our energies on transmitting what we have learned and are thinking to the next generations. 

This is not to pretend that the choice is personally desirable. Notwithstanding my despair with the excess of death and destruction in the Caribbean, I can still be fascinated by the fluorishing of creatures that were previously unnoticed in spaces formerly “claimed" by corals. That we have so much yet to learn about the intricate webs of life in reef habitats is very exciting! (My own resolution has been to focus remaining field trips on training workshops.) 

Internet-based communication technologies are becoming more reliable and more widely available; connection and receiving speeds are steadily increasing. Already list serves, videoconferences, webinars, etc. (plus social media for those who indulge therein), are substituting as opportunities to initiate new ideas, collaborations, mentorships and additional worthwhile activities–even inspiring friendships among people who’ve never physically met–that traditionally were provided in intervals at international conferences and other meetings. 

I’d hesitated to join this conversation because, much as I’d welcome an opportunity to see everyone and, for a few weeks, experience central Europe in summer, I’d already regretfully decided not to attend the 2020 ICRS. A network of subregional, low-impact, mini-conferences, able to communicate with Bremen next year (in many places not in real time of course), could gain my support, especially if participants would also use the opportunity to engage in some well-publicised, local climate actions.

After all, our eyes have been telling us for decades that we need to initiate transformative societal change. May the creative suggestions for solutions continue to flow and attract a groundswell of interest in their execution.

Judy Lang
AGRRA Scientific Coordinator

> On May 13, 2019, at 3:54 PM, Franziska Elmer via Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:
> 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.

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