[Coral-List] UN outreach and a dangerous trap

sealab at earthlink.net sealab at earthlink.net
Fri Apr 30 15:50:30 UTC 2021

Hi Franziska,

Although it would be helpful if more coral scientists became climate activists, I would settle for just a bit more in the way of transparency and full disclosure. I believe that almost all coral scientists see climate change as an existential threat to coral reefs, but all too often they sidestep the issue in fear of sounding pessimistic. My main concern is that in a valiant attempt to avoid doom and gloom scientists are inadvertently promoting what amounts to a fantasy scenario whereby coral reefs can be saved without the need to address causation. Although most academics may feel uncomfortable crossing the line into activism, the papers they publish seem to be much more audacious and bold. Coral scientists seem to be openly willing to take on climate change and other stressors in their peer-reviewed publications while all too often many of the projects they are involved in publicly promote a different, less straightforward directive. So while becoming an climate activist is admirable, I’d settle for a little more consistency. Acknowledging and driving home the seriousness of the threats to coral reefs is not doom and gloom. It is perhaps the last best chance we have to avoid a ecological disaster. Restoration efforts have done wonders in raising consciousness of plight of coral reefs, now let’s finish the drill by not shying away from telling the whole story.


Steve Mussman

On 4/28/21, 4:57 PM, Franziska Elmer via Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:

Dear Steve and Coral list,

Steve, thank you for bringing these two important readings to our attention. Reading UN article written in 2017 ( https://www.un.org/en/chronicle/article/can-we-save-coral-reefs) I see that we haven't really engaged in some of the steps suggested such as:

* Establish a high-profile movement that makes way for a shift in societal behaviour to reduce adverse impacts on coral reefs and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.

* Become engaged as scientists in the climate discussion and push for faster reductions in emissions.


The article Steve shared in his post "a dangerous trap" (https://apac01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F) explains how we as scientists have not used the immense power we have to get government and industry to adapt more ambitious climate targets. 2021 is a critical year to raise our voice, since governments are negotiation their reduction targets for 2025. Christiana Figueres (former UNFCCC secretary) said it clearly: the more pressure comes from people demontrating and engaging in direct action and civil disobedience, the more ambitious the government targets will be as they know people demand it and stand behind it.

So if you haven't raised your voice yet, please consider starting today to do so. As Einstein said: "Those who have the priviledge to know have the duty to act"

How can you make a difference?

* Join a local environmental or climate group

* Get inspired by other coral reef scientists making a difference https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZxDXCWzidE

* email me if you are interested in doing a global coral reef scientist direct action at the end of this summer.

Together we can make a huge difference, but we are running out of time!

With love for the Ocean and rage about climate inaction,

Franziska Elmer



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