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Science

How Coral Researchers Are Coping With the Death of Reefs (theatlantic.com) 57

Ed Yong, writing for The Atlantic: The continuing desecration has taken an immense toll on the mental health of people like Colton, a director at Coral Reef Alliance, who have devoted their lives to studying and saving these ecosystems. How do you get up and go to work every day when every day brings fresh news of loss? "Are we going to lose an entire ecosystem on my watch? It's demoralizing. It's been really hard to find the optimism," she says. "I think Miss Enthusiasm has gone away." There was a time, just a few decades ago, when this crisis seemed unimaginable, when reefs seemed invincible. This catastrophe has unfolded slowly. [...] But she also recognizes that she and other scientists are privileged. They care about reefs, but they're not like the 450 million people around the world who rely on reefs for tourism revenue, food from fish, and protection against storms. For them, the losses are a daily reality. The last time Bette Willis, from James Cook University, went out to the Great Barrier Reef, the woman who ran her boat "would alternate between rants and depression," she recalls. "She's out there several times a week. She knows each coral. She could see her whole livelihood go down the drain." Everyone I spoke to talked about becoming very good at compartmentalizing -- at acknowledging the scale of the tragedy, but also putting it aside to focus on their work. "I don't find it productive to be angry or depressed all the time. It's corrosive, and it isn't going to solve the problem," says Knowlton. She is perhaps the poster child for ocean optimism, having created a movement called ... Ocean Optimism.
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How Coral Researchers Are Coping With the Death of Reefs

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  • Problem.. Of course you get more research money if you blame climate change..

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Has journalism fallen so far from reporting facts that scientistsâ(TM) emotions now constitute the news? Whatâ(TM)s next, interviews with losing politicians on what being rejected by the majority of oneâ(TM)s fellow citizens feels like?

  • Chicken Little? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Vinegar Joe ( 998110 ) on Friday November 24, 2017 @05:41PM (#55617379)

    For months, scientists have been reporting the Great Barrier Reef is recovering.

    http://www.cairnspost.com.au/n... [cairnspost.com.au]
    https://www.theguardian.com/en... [theguardian.com]
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/201... [abc.net.au]

  • What seems to be missed in all this negativity is the very positive thing that vast new parts of the oceans are now the right conditions for corals and the corals are moving into them. Part of the biology of corals is they squirt out their gametes into the currents which then for a mobile stage of the coral that floats and eventually settles somewhere in the world. If it settles in a viable spot then the coral flourishes causing the corals to spread.

    This is a very good strategy, it works and people are igno

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What seems to be missed in all this negativity is the very positive thing that vast new parts of the oceans are now the right conditions for corals and the corals are moving into them. Part of the biology of corals is they squirt out their gametes into the currents which then for a mobile stage of the coral that floats and eventually settles somewhere in the world. If it settles in a viable spot then the coral flourishes causing the corals to spread.

      This is a very good strategy, it works and people are ignoring it.

      Probably people ignore this because most people don't know much about corals and it makes better headlines if you say gloom and doom.

      Certainly some of the tropical corals that we are losing will move to where the ocean temps at their particular species depth will support them. And in time some species of trees will move further north and adapt to a slightly different light cycle duration. The problem is that the forced evolution is far faster than the rate of adaptation so the diversity of species will plummet dramatically until new species adapted to the individual environments can evolve in diversity. What is happing is much faster tha

      • by pubwvj ( 1045960 )

        I'm sorry you missed my point. This is not about evolution of the various species but rather that the species are gaining new environments that were previously not hospitable.

        As the northern waters warm a little the motile forms of the young corals drop into those newly hospitable areas and colonize.

        This is not about evolution. Evolution's great but this is about how existing species can take on new areas because those areas become hospitable. The environment is changing rather than the species.

        Shame on you

  • https://www.divingcairns.com.au/reef_crownofthorns

    But as xtronics said it is easier to get funding if you blame climate change rather than the fact that we really don't know all that much about the oceans as we think we do. There are so many factors involved in what shapes this world, and scientists often fail to consider that the problem is much more complex than an excess of carbon dioxide that should really be a boon to plant life. While I cannot say definitively that human caused climate change is false

    • by Altrag ( 195300 )

      Of course those starfish are themselves promoted by warmer water, so aside from the fact that large-scale problems often have multiple causes, in that particular case the cause you're trying to deny actually applies anyway (albeit less directly and almost certainly with less overall influence.)

      I don't pretend it is "settled science"

      Things that are 100% settled:
      - CO2 is a greenhouse gas. This is easily tested by building a greenhouse and comparing the temperatures over time under various atmospheric conditions.
      - We're pumping a boatload of it in

      • by Nexion ( 1064 )

        Actually you can't build a single greenhouse and compare temperatures over time given various atmospheric conditions as you would need multiple instances in the same and varied conditions to truly determine anything meaningful.

        Boatload? Is that a metric boatload???

        The world averages temperatures are going up at an alarming rate by who's opinion. I'm not alarmed.

        Recently they found that increased geologic stresses were causing ice shelves to move at a higher rate in Antarctica. ...but you say this is all 100

  • corals have been around for about half a billion years.

    Scientists not so much.

  • I'll believe that people are taking the saving of the coral reefs seriously when we get over this unfounded fear of nuclear power. If we fear nuclear power more than global warming then we have some seriously messed up priorities.

    Can we solve this problem of CO2 production without nuclear power? Perhaps. What we know for sure is that we can solve this problem faster with nuclear power than without. Nuclear power is safe, inexpensive, and has the lowest CO2 output than any other energy source we have ava

    • by Nexion ( 1064 )

      Yes, seriously, we need nuclear power. We need to facilitate off hours power with power caches. While I loathe that chump Musk I can't help but cheer him on when he does well. Beyond that we need to start replanting the forests we have lost because we really need wood for fires and buildings. I really can't understand how these worthless hippie bastards can't understand how important it is to replant what was lost to logging. Like they can come on here and bitch about chump or this or that, but will they pl

      • I really can't understand how these worthless hippie bastards can't understand how important it is to replant what was lost to logging.

        It's the fucking logging companies that can't be bothered to replant the clear-cut forests.
        What the fuck do "worthless hippie bastards" have to do with it?

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday November 24, 2017 @10:18PM (#55618465) Journal

    Corals are one of the oldest forms of multicellular life on the planet.
    They've thrived when the earth has been both much cooler, and much warmer than it is today.
    They've thrived when CO2 was both higher and lower than today.
    They've thrived when the climate has changed both more slowly, and more quickly. Sometimes radically quickly.

    Seriously, if you're going to pick a poster child for 'most likely to not give a shit about warming' - that would be corals. For every coral that bleaches because of slightly warmer water, another two whole latitudes toward the poles are opened for coral growth and exploitation.

    • by Nexion ( 1064 )

      Sush, stop making sense. You'll make liberal heads pop.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Corals are one of the oldest forms of multicellular life on the planet. They've thrived when the earth has been both much cooler, and much warmer than it is today. They've thrived when CO2 was both higher and lower than today. They've thrived when the climate has changed both more slowly, and more quickly. Sometimes radically quickly.

      Seriously, if you're going to pick a poster child for 'most likely to not give a shit about warming' - that would be corals. For every coral that bleaches because of slightly warmer water, another two whole latitudes toward the poles are opened for coral growth and exploitation.

      Too bad that they taste like shit and the fish species that rely upon them are not quite as adaptable. In case you have not noticed the price of protein produced in the oceans has gone crazy. You can put on rose colored glasses and say "OH but coral is more well adapted to Oceanic changes than higher organisms", but the problems for local environs become much more complex when coral reefs are destroyed. Answer this, how long did the giant grouper take to adapt to the habitat of the great barrier reef and ho

      • Too bad that they taste like shit and the fish species that rely upon them are not quite as adaptable.

        And what exactly prevents fish populations from migrating to an area they prefer, or adapting to slowly changing conditions where they are??

        If anything fish are MORE adaptable simply because they have more mobility and generally shorter lifespans (though some fish can grow quite old, but the they usually get so big they do not care about much)..

    • This post is completely and utterly wrong, neglects how coral numbers dwindled to almost nothing during major extinction events related to temperature, and makes the common mistake that it isn't just the temperature, it is the rate of change. Thrived when the environment changes quickly when, exactly? Not the Ordovician extinction event! Extinction is what happens when species fail to adapt to changes in their environment. Never has the Earth been warming more rapidly than it is now. https://climate.nasa.go [nasa.gov]
      • If coral numbers "dwindled" during major temp-related extinction events, you've proved my point: they *dwindled* means they survived...like 70%, 80%, 90% of other species DIDN'T.
        In that context, merely 'dwindling' is a victory.

        And I knew someone would haul out the 'rate of change' nonsense. When you and your ilk assert that +2.5 deg C and 3000+ PPM CO2 is 'catastrophic', it's easy to point to times when both were higher, and coral was thriving. Then, you assert "but...no, it's the RATE of change...!"
        But

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