[Coral-List] A Swim Through Time on Carysfort Reef; EFFORT TO ASSEMBLE A LIST OF REMAINING HEALTHY CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS
douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
Tue Aug 4 20:07:29 UTC 2020
Apologies, that post got sent before it was ready.
So during rapid economic growth, such as the industrial revolution in
the UK, Europe, and the US, pollution rapidly grew out of control, and
people didn't realize the source of the problem. In London, "London fog"
was really smog from burning coal in fireplaces to heat homes. At one
point it killed about 2000 people. If you travel above ground sections of
the subway there today, you see nearly endless rows of houses all with many
smoke stacks. But zero smoke. You look around and the air looks clear.
People aren't choking on it. There was a time, maybe in the 60's, when
Tokyo's air was so bad there were coin operated machines on the sidewalk
that dispensed oxygen for those who needed it. No more, like London, this
gigantic urban area with something like 24 million people, has air that
looks clear and people aren't choking and dying in the streets.
Pittsburgh, in the US used to have blackened buildings from the soot from
coal-fired steel mills. No more, the mills are gone, people have other
jobs, the buildings were cleaned, the city gleams and competes for the best
quality of life in the USA. Tell me those aren't success stories!!!! AI
CAN and WILL be repeated, China and India know they have a terrible air
pollution problem, and they are on it. They know about the huge health
costs of caring for people sickened by it, lost work hours, lost lives.
China is now the world's largest solar panel manufacturer. India has a
plan for renewables that is so ambitious people doubt they can do it that
fast. (No, the air is far from perfect, and the battle is not over. It
will never be over, but real progress has been made and will be made.)
There are huge constituencies for the environment, and politicians
ignore that to their own peril. BUT, there are lots of things people
consider benefits of doing things that end up damaging the environment,
including coral reefs, and can come back to bite us. Coral reefs are
major tourist attractions. They feed hundreds of millions of poor people
along coasts, and they provide hundreds of millions of dollars worth of
There is a story that someone came to US president FDR once and
pleaded for action on something. FDR grinned and said "make me do it!" He
wasn't mocking the person, he was saying he has to have support. Get your
constituents and supporters to make a LOT of noise and DEMAND it, and I
will do it gladly.
Right now is the opposite of the ideal time given the pandemic
emergency, but different issues are commonly addressed simultaneously.
Environmental battles never end, there is no inevitability of either
winning or losing. Persistence and determination and action and things
that appeal to the public help win battles, sitting in the ivory tower and
not speaking out don't. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, sticking your
neck out is absolutely required to make progress. The squeaky wheel gets
the grease. I have to say that the media have been an enormous help for
us, the articles on the damage we do to the reefs and oceans and climate
change has been nearly endless. The more people know that their income and
health is threatened, the more outraged they are, and the more pressure
they apply. Part of our problem is that the threats to humans from us
degrading the reefs is not always obvious enough. We need to make it
obvious and unavoidably obvious. But I think polls have shown an
increasing concern about climate change and support for action. I sense
the tide is shifting in our favor on this issue, and it is the biggest
threat to the future of reefs.
So this is a call to action. Action gets results, inaction doesn't.
When people believe that it is in their own best interests to save the
reefs, they WILL get saved. Not until then.
On Tue, Aug 4, 2020 at 8:23 AM Douglas Fenner <douglasfennertassi at gmail.com>
> I believe that everyone in this discussion is making good points.
> I would like to add a hint of optimism. There are aspects of
> environmental battles that provide solid grounds for optimism, as well as
> for caution and pessimism. The grounds for optimism are that people don't
> like things that threaten their health, or survival, or income, or
> livelihoods. A few years ago in the US lead was discovered in the water
> supply in Flint, Michigan. It was in the international news. Outrage
> resulted. I haven't kept up with the story, but I bet it is being fixed,
> because if it isn't, the outrage is a threat to the political careers of
> elected officials. ]k= =-z>:"AA^%q
> On Tue, Aug 4, 2020 at 1:36 AM Steve via Coral-List <
> coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:
>> Mike Risk’s perspective on the effects of coral scientists not speaking
>> with a unified voice clearly resonates with me.
>> While the point is well taken that people have shown that they care way
>> more about other things, how can we expect this dynamic to ever change when
>> the messaging they receive from the “experts” in the coral science
>> community continues to be rife with ambiguity? Policy makers respond to
>> monied interests, but public opinion matters too and there is every
>> indication that interest in environmental issues is on the rise, especially
>> with the younger generation.
>> What would happen if the messaging put out about what we need to do to
>> “save coral reefs” was done with more clarity, simplicity and conviction?
>> Consider the paper cited (https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0231817)
>> on survivorship of the ongoing NRP (NOAA Recovery Plan) in the Florida Keys
>> Marine Sanctuary. As I read it, the paper makes it clear that “reducing
>> stressors is required before significant population growth and recovery
>> will occur. Until then, outplanting protects against local extinction and
>> helps maintain genetic diversity in the wild”. Although this conclusion
>> points to a significant role for restoration, it makes clear that reducing
>> (both local and global) stressors is paramount.
>> Why can’t we make that point clear? What’s so hard about selling the
>> public on the idea that we must restore some semblance of the natural
>> ecological balance? Clean up the water; promote sustainable fisheries and
>> cut carbon emissions. That simple message has yet to resonate in the public
>> domain. Instead, many have become convinced that the only viable strategy
>> is to race to outplant supercorals designed to withstand an inevitable and
>> mounting onslaught of stressors that are somehow beyond our control.
>> I have listened to many gray-haired coral reef scientists and there’s
>> obviously more capitulation out there than optimism.
>> So, does it even matter at this point if we change the messaging? Maybe
>> not, but it may represent our best last chance to try.
>> Steve Mussman
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