[Coral-List] coral bleaching

Austin Bowden-Kerby abowdenkerby at gmail.com
Wed Apr 20 19:52:59 UTC 2022

Thanks Gene,  for your persistence and explaining your logic.

I did a google search and this site has the answers to your questions.

Look at the second graph, which plots atmospheric CO2 over the past 800,000
years, derived from bubbles trapped in ice cores.  The highest level
ever recorded is right now- 412ppm in 2020, exceeding the 300ppm max about
300,000 years back.  The peak CO2 levels during all former interglacial
periods range from 280-300, so we are in entirely new territory.

In April 2022, we are now at 421ppm as carbon emissions are increasing
rapidly, it is horrific.  By this time next year we will be at 424ppm, and
by 2025 we will surpass 430, and so forth.  We are entering a climatic
regime never before experienced by humanity, and massive sea level rise and
planetary destruction now looks to be inevitable.  I completely understand
the inability to grasp this new reality- I certainly can't fully.  So how
do we stop this machine that is eating up the entire future of all humanity
and most of this precious biodiversity?  Politics- certainly not, far too
late for even the conductors and engineers to stop the train and prevent it
from going over the cliff- only a derailment might keep us from going
over!  This is why I think that we need to focus our energy on how to keep
those on the train alive during the crisis, so that a recovery can happen
after the derailment and its aftermath.  I have totally revised my
restoration paradigm based on these new realities.  I don't know how the
derailment might happen but it is our best hope at this point, and the
Universe certainly seems capable of arranging it!

To all of the old and young on the list- this is the time for all of us to
examine and revise our former mindsets and former conclusions, because
everything we though might work might not in the emerging new realities,
and all that we cherish in this world is about to be blown away or burnt up
by this seemingly unstoppable hot wave of planetary injustice.

I have been forced to change my former mindset about restoration, because I
looked up and saw the approaching firestorm. I am now hoping to convince
those in the field to change our operational models: the time to focus on
restoring damaged reef areas has passed.  Just as with forest restoration,
when the firestorms approach, it is no longer appropriate to plant saplings
amongst the dry grass, rather it is time to look up, and start rushing
around to gather the seeds and seedlings, to move samples of diverse and
climate adapted plant stock into safe havens and areas where the firestorm
might bypass.

For the coral reef, this involves learning from the leading edge of the
bleaching induced collapse (yes, Kiribati), and not retreating to the still
mostly intact coral reefs.  Lessons from the front lines tell us that we
can save the most bleaching resistant and disease corals from demise within
the hottest and siltiest reef areas if we act now!   Moving quickly, we
search the hotter nearshore reefs and most stressed locations for the coral
species still surviving, targeting especially those already in decline
(Acropora especially), and assuming that these surviving colonies are the
best candidates for heat and disease resistance, as they are surviving at
the upper thermal limit in disease infested waters, and where they
certainly have a low chance of surviving into the future as the heat waves
increase in severity.  We translocate these corals from the hot waters out
to the coolest waters that are available, to create gene bank nurseries
within the reef system, at least in each local area where that option is
possible.  Our paradigm MUST now change from square meters of reef
restored, to the number of coral species and genotypes secured from the
approaching heat waves locally, and with enough genetic diversity for
natural recovery and/or future restoration efforts, which would happen
after the world reorganizes itself at a much lower population and carbon

There are alternatives to just sitting and watching the horrors unfold, or
recording things before they go extinct.  Sadly the funding and attention
has mostly been diverted to the flashy quick-fix artificial man made
efforts, such as robots, 3-D printing, and messing with upwelling and
insolation, rather than working urgently to save existing adapted coral
genotypes and traits required to save corals from demise, working to
identify and accelerate natural adaptive processes. There are other
commendable efforts, many of them lab based, but even those are often still
nested in the old restoration framework.  Everything we do needs to be
reviewed in light of the approaching realities.

Kind regards,


Austin Bowden-Kerby, PhD
Corals for Conservation
P.O. Box 4649 Samabula, Fiji Islands

TEDx talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PRLJ8zDm0U

On Thu, Apr 21, 2022 at 2:47 AM LOU FISHER via Coral-List <
coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:

> Gene,
> The important difference between then (5e) and now is that the warming,
> whatever the cause, took tens of thousands of years then, while the present
> day warming is happening over only decades.
> Lou Fisher
> On Wed, Apr 20, 2022 at 8:10 AM Eugene Shinn via Coral-List <
> coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:
> > Regarding our recent discussions concerning coral bleaching and
> > temperature here is something I thought would be relevant for readers of
> > the list. It is well known that the Florida Keys were once a coral reef
> > as were many elevated Pleistocene age coral reefs around the planet.
> > They had to be formed when sea level was several meters above present.
> > They did not grow in air. They grew during what is known as isotope
> > stage 5e. The newest information suggests that was 129-116 thousand
> > years ago. Most scientists agree the higher sea level at that time was
> > due to melting polar ice and therefore Earth was likely warmer that
> > today's temperature. If bleaching today is due to warm temperatures,
> > then coral growth that produced those elevated stage 5e coral reefs
> > should have bleached. We have no way of knowing for sure, but it is
> > evident that those 5e reefs did produce what is now land in many places
> > including the Florida Keys. If there was bleaching back then it is clear
> > those corals did not go extinct until sea level dropped and left them
> > high and dry. As readers know, sea level dropped as much as 120 meters
> > when those reefs were left high and dry. Sea level then began rising as
> > it is doing now. Was the higher sea level during stage 5e caused by
> > higher CO2 levels? If so, what caused the high CO2 levels? There were no
> > automobiles or fossil fuel power plants back then. The CO2 could have
> > been expelled by a warming sea but what caused the sea to warm? Could
> > whatever cause the sea to warm be what is causing today's warming? I
> > thought these questions would be relevant subjects for discussion by
> > members of the coral-list. Gene
> > _______________________________________________
> > Coral-List mailing list
> > Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> > https://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
> >
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> https://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

More information about the Coral-List mailing list