[Coral-List] Is it Ocean Optimism or Toxic Positivity?

Bill Allison allison.billiam at gmail.com
Mon Aug 24 17:08:41 UTC 2020

Seems to be a societal failing, like public health vs medicine, especially
the silver bullet school of the latter, reflecting ignorance of the second
law of thermodynamics.

On Mon, Aug 24, 2020 at 10:47 AM Steve via Coral-List <
coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:

> Dear Coral-Listers,
> I recently came across an article in The Washington Post entitled Time To
> Ditch Toxic Positivity, Experts Say - It’s Okay Not To Be Okay. Although it
> was primarily referring to how people choose to deal with COVID19 and
> widespread social unrest, I saw a direct connection to the ways in which we
> choose to cope with our growing consternation over the unceasing demise of
> the world’s coral reefs.
> https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/toxic-positivity-mental-health-covid/2020/08/19/5dff8d16-e0c8-11ea-8181-606e603bb1c4_story.html
> We all know that when faced with adversity it can be beneficial to frame
> things in a way designed to keep spirits high, but can too much forced
> positivity be toxic? Could this somehow apply to coral science today? If we
> don’t put proper emphasis on what we know is killing coral reefs and
> instead choose to promote short-term successes, are we “shutting out the
> possibility for further contemplation”?
> It seems that almost every day now I’m being bombarded by public outreach
> efforts that suggest that there are good reasons to believe that
> outplanting of genetically modified corals might be the solution to the
> coral reef crisis. As when forced to deal with negative emotions about the
> pandemic, everyone prefers to exude optimism, but psychologists warn that
> it can be problematic when people profess positivity in situations where
> it’s not natural or realistic (like when coral reefs are dying worldwide)
> or when there are problems that legitimately need to be addressed (like
> water quality; over-fishing; and climate change) and you choose instead to
> deflect attention away from major stressors onto something more rosy (like
> our outplanted corals are spawning!).
> So, I’m wondering, is anybody else concerned that this form of ocean
> optimism, though comforting and reassuring, may prove counterproductive in
> that it could delay the development of real solutions for the most critical
> issues at hand, or, is this just an indication that I have morphed into a
> dispirited old curmudgeon?
> Cheers?
> Steve Mussman
> Sent from EarthLink Mobile mail
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