Clownfish in coral

What's a scientist to do when their entire ecosystem is highly endangered and teetering on the edge of big change? I vote we go with the view of the Nature Conservancy director of coral reefs 

Harvell Comments on a Recent Op-Ed in the New York Times

July 23, 2012

Clownfish in coral

What's a scientist to do when their entire ecosystem is highly endangered and teetering on the edge of big change? I vote we go with the view of the Nature Conservancy director of coral reefs, Stephanie Wear, and try to fix the problem and not with the hopelessly, pessimistic (some would say, zombie) views of Roger Bradbury.  Roger’s op-ed, “A World Without Coral Reefs,” is unfortunately quite correct if we agree with him that there is no hope to change anyone’s behavior with regard to carbon emissions or improved marine ecosystem management.

Drew HarvellDrew Harvell, ACSF Associate Director - Environment

I think by now we all know that coral reefs are highly threatened by the triumvirate of climate-warming (and other carbon emissions related problems like ocean acidification), over-fishing and pollution.  What is less well known is that there are successful action items to improve the fate of this most biodiverse marine ecosystem on earth.

For me it boils down to three things:  1) reduce greenhouse gas emissions, 2) keep up the superb work already underway to improve fisheries through establishing no-fish zones and more quota-based fishing regulations, and 3) clean up land-based pollution.  Both Stephanie in her TNC blog and John Bruno in Andy Revkin’s blog do a good job of expanding on the action items that should be on our list.  And you know what?  Most coral reef scientists think the science says that if we do these things, we will get coral reefs through the bottleneck of climate stressers that will hit in 30 years.  If we don’t cut greenhouse gas emissions, coral reefs will be the least of our worries.

(Clownfish image credit: josh-n/Flickr through a Creative Commons license.)