[Coral-List] A very useful report (Douglas Fenner)

CORALations Culebra coralations at gmail.com
Sun Oct 31 16:40:30 UTC 2021

Saludos Katie: 

As Katie knows,  I live and work on islands within US territory of the Caribbean still littered with UXO. These inhabited islands were used and leased by US Navy to other NATO forces for target practice. Some of our best reefs were directly “blown up” in periodic “clean ups” when Navy was still here, because “they made the best splash” according to one former military person that returned here to visit. 

 Today, Culebra’s bomb “clean up” turned into a multi- million dollar candy-land for US military contractors- likely never to finish- because of those economic incentive$$$ and the fact that UXO in these shifting sands can allude metal detection. 

Years ago this “clean up”  involved a local board or RAB committee constantly informed that their input was not needed until the clean up process reached a certain point in its official process. Once it reached that part and after even the co-chair (Sr. Juan Romero) of the local RAB resigned due to the obvious exercise in futility, the US Army Corps closed the RAB due to “lack of public interest.”    There was public interest.  

Of historical interest regarding practice maneuvers here, and revealed in the book “Target Culebra” by Richard Copaken, was that many of the ship to shore maneuvers conducted on the Culebra archipelago were rendered pointless given ground weapons range exceeded the ship to shore missile range of the munitions being tested. That the exercise was rendered moot, did nothing to deter the US Navy’s continued practice,  and the island is now contaminated with hazardous UXO- likely forever in shallow, dynamic beach areas. 

Today, there is supposed to be local and Federal agency oversight on coastal clean water, on fisheries etc…, but even concerns of irreparable contamination from basic water quality concerns are unaddressed today, despite agency commitment to recent round table agency meetings.

 For example, recent re-paving practices not seen as being of any significant environmental consequence, are resulting in highly toxic shredded pavement being sold and compressed (not heated) on the front lawns of health compromised locals  and repeated notifications to local and federal agencies result in no meaningful

More and more sensitive water bodies and resources are now threatened and this every day- as in an instant of time to the backdrop of Culebra’s coral reefs already in cascading collapse. 

The (PAH’s) associated with this shredded pavement are toxic carcinogens and currently enjoy regulatory oversight including handling and storage by EPA. However bottom line concerns clearly not being accurately assessed, continue to be spread as “recycled pavement” next to households of the elderly, and/or in sensitive watersheds. 

In our island microcosm, almost nothing of harm to existing habitat is regulated in a temporal framework meaningful to prevent the irreparable harm today,  and facts are filtered or saccharinated apparently to drive consensus to those issues where manager, academics, or even regulators see the greatest possibility to move any tiny action in the right direction over the  finish line. 

Unfortunately, nature doesn’t care about the politics of tiny successes. Nature responds to thresholds. While this was how we have to move in the past- today we no longer have the luxury of that time. 

Even worse, after two decades of witnessing any meaningful oversight on even basic land clearing and excavation practices where regulatory oversight is now commonplace and well accepted publicly throughout the Continental US,   we have heard local community leaders from well funded NGO’s defer to climate change here as the sole and inevitable cause of coral collapse-  “nothing we can do, so might as well accept it”    

To maintain their political and social engagement, they turn heads on the “progress” brought by the bulldozing of coastal lands, or the reef trampling of illegal tourism concessions- many cumulative impacts are driving the final nails into our coral’s coffins.  People and agencies see the reflection of today’s colorful Saharan dust filled sunsets on the surface of the water as the exploitable resource today. Regulators say the people don’t know or understand that the environmental services provided by the underwater resources now dying, even though that knowledge is only one Blue Planet documentary away. 

From administrators to advocates many people don’t see themselves as responsible- it is “the corruption of the system” or “climate change.”    The big NGO’s (BINGOs) are moving in that have themselves not divested from fossil fuel  and people uncritically embrace these partnerships, understandably trying to sweep up every breadcrumb, irrespective of if the project being pushed is a reasonable island priority. 

These local trends are  not changing despite the creation of a local community board to collaborative manage their MPA with a government resource agency that can’t even enforce the rules associated with a basic no take zone.  

Developed within this board is an infrastructure with a stated / written commitment specific to prioritization of management considerations and while this board is 100% dedicated, educated and well intentioned, the history keeps repeating itself largely because to implement those measures may offend. Local communities do not like to offend possible funding sources. 
As “scientific” as we say we are, people tend to move in these circles concerned about the personal. 

The agencies are performing worse regarding clean water, coastal zone management and fisheries regulatory oversight and 
 enforcement and 
it’s not because of the lack of awareness about climate change. 

Rather, it appears to be an increasingly de-regulatory mindset fueled by divisive politicization of even scientific issues and fueled by an  understandable mistrust of government. 

Today there’s possibly a science fiction being proliferated in the Caribbean about  a stony coral tissue loss disease that coral vet pathologists  offered a 10 hour workshop on,  where the main point of the presentation was to show that  it’s  impossible today to diagnose coral disease from lesion appearance alone, and yet this “disease” is now resulting in ad hock treatments with antibiotics that claimed to at least initially show show a treatment response, when it seems intuitive the mechanism of action of antibiotics could seriously compromise  the endosymbionts and beneficial flora. 

Publicly revealing complete collapse is neither politically nor publicly inspirational to motivate change, even if it is the truth. 

However, the LBGTQ movement which I admittedly initially had no faith in given the alphabet soup that was presented as their figurehead- made headway.  These social change leaders did not care if it motivated or inspired or offended… 
They just said- we are here, and this is how you treat us now and guess what- politicians saw their power and quickly responded. 

in the same way why can’t climate change focus  be shifted on response,  and here maybe there’s a hope to engage the military given the stated understanding by two Commanders and Chiefs - Obama and Biden, that climate change is the number one national security issue of our lifetime?    

As humans reliant on social and physical infrastructure, we are all accomplice to this destruction. This is not something we are all not all engaged in already, irrespective of what we choose to do. 

The global security issue of our time is the ability of the planet to even maintain a breathable atmosphere in the near future- but academics may be thinking a more hopeful “framework” will help encourage politicians to move even if at a crawl in the right direction. Unfortunately,  natural thresholds can’t survive a crawling response. 

They are afraid to address the military when the military verbally acknowledges their obligation to address these national security issues, while in reality they are still bombing habitat critical to maintaining a breathable atmosphere on this planet. Corals and mangroves are to many of us what levees are to New Orleans-  actually much more. 

 Maybe the military’s own past National
Security verbiage needs to
be used against them in the name of climate change? 

Perhaps the global existential crisis is the only thing that could unite the war machines of different countries- and end this cycle of human ignorance and stupidly? 

Anyway, not much left to lose in trying? 

I hope Katie writes them and takes care to respond in a way that would not compromise the report or efforts of these scientists  (which they well did themselves through their own omissions),  but that can add to their proceedings. They might be open to that? There has to be a United Front. 

Maybe we all need to emphasize climate change security concerns and background collapse of existing resources in every formal communication to the military leaders, lawmakers and presidents, using the same patriotic verbiage long wielded by them over the years to inspire warring and war games?  

Abrazos and thank you all for what you do- 

Mary Ann Lucking
PO BOX 750
Culebra, PR  00775
email: coralations at gmail.com
<>< <>< <>< 

> On Oct 30, 2021, at 10:19 PM, kmuzik at gmail.com wrote:
> I apologize for a spelchek glitch, Gavan McCormack's brilliant report was at apjif.org NOT "aphis"!
> Here goes again, the corrected report:
> Thank you Douglas Fenner for posting the recent ICRF report on "Rebuilding Coral Reefs: a Decadal Grand Challenge", by Knowlton, N., et alia, at http://coralreefs.org/publications/rebuilding_coral_reefs/.
> Upon reading it, I am feeling, beyond dismay, anger, frustration, I am beyond feeling woe, or even resignation, I have a new feeling, one of terror.
> How might such fantastically well-educated and well-travelled scientists from my own generation omit from their very pretty report of the "3 pillars" for keeping reefs alive, elide (ahem, ignore entirely) the bludgeons of nearly 130 years of US militarism? Knowlton and her colleagues only mention 1) reducing climate change 2) improving local conditions and 3) investing in restoration of corals....What feeble pillars these 3 are, against current and constant ongoing forceful military aggression!
> Yes, the US military continues its bludgeoning, its destruction forever, of cultures and natural environments all around our watery, once-lively, Planet. 
> In the Pacific, the imperialistic US military, since the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, and then throughout the continuing US decimation of Pacific islands and culture during WW2, until right now, with the US bombing practice at Naftan/Tinian/Pagan in the Marianas and with the Aegis missiles targeting Kwajalein from Kaua'i, and with the US Navy's incessant Pacific war games, including recently permitted 2019-2024 24/7 low/mid/high frequency destructive sonar from 44 degrees N latitude to 15, the US military continues, unchecked, to obliterate marine life. In Okinawa, it continues to engage in deliberate obliteration of the most beautiful and diverse coral reef I have ever had the privilege to dive into, at Oura Bay.  There, over 5,334 species (262 species of which are listed as "endangered" and others which are still "new", undescribed), including over 430 spp of corals, 1000+ spp of fish, numerous spp of molluscs, echinoderms, arthropods, seagrasses and algae are resolutely clinging to life. Yet the US insists on expanding Camp Schwab, a US Marine Base on the Bay, against the wishes of 70% of the local population and their democratically elected Governor. Despite years and years of opposition from stalwart local activists, the desecration of Oura Bay continues. 
> In summary, the mightily-funded US military has been bludgeoning life on lands and in the seas for well over a century, and continues unchecked. Now with the "China threat", the US is ramping up activities, expanding  even further away from its own shores, mercilessly continuing irreparable destruction. Not just expanding military base construction in Okinawa, Guam, Australia, S. Korea, Japan, etc etc but increasing noise and sonar and chemical pollution, nuclear contamination, etc etc, throughout all waters of the Pacific Ocean.
> I have in my hand a very sobering book that S. Dillon Ripley gave me in 1976, which first brought my attention to this ongoing tragedy, entitled "Lost Island", by his admired colleague, James Norman Hall. (Hall was an American author better known for writing "Mutiny on the Bounty" and other books adapted for film.) In 1944 Hall published this very eloquent and poignant description about the impact of war/US militarization on humans living on Pacific islands. If not readily available to you, I admonish you to read this more accessible, recent report from an admired colleague of my own, Gavan McCormack, an Australian historian and philosopher, entitled "The Prospect of Political Change in Japan" published on October 25 in Asia Pacific Journal, https://apjif.org/2021/20/McCormack.html. In this report he details the accelerating tempo of military exercises in the East and South Pacific, and warns of the possibility of clash, by accident or design, of the US, UK, Japanese, German, Australian, French and Chinese forces assembling there for "war games".
> I have witnessed tragic loss, in just my lifetime, to reefs and corals I loved, shallow and deep, all around the world. They are diseased and dying, from pollution, tourism, overfishing, acidification, warming...Thus I mentioned not just my feelings of sadness, frustration and despair but also terror in my opening sentences to you. 
> Why terror? Because in my view, the overt failure by academics to address/oppose/curtail/stop military destruction of the marine environment is beyond outrageous. I fear the "Penta-Force", the Military-Industrial-Press-Administrative-Academic Force, will forcefully succeed, causing innocent, beautiful, ancient and wondrous corals and their associated marine life to succumb and perish. The complacency and silence of marine biologists are complicit in this irreversible tragedy. Thousands of years of life in the sea, poof!
> Katherine Muzik
> kmuzik at gmail.com
> 808-346-6167
> www.ourwaterdrop.org

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