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March 2007 Vol. 33, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Divers' Feedback on Global Warming

from the March, 2007 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In January, we ran a piece on global warming, how it is affecting coral reefs, and what divers might do about it. Here are a few of the responses we received. — Ben

Ben: Do you think the ocean gives a crap if the surface temperature increases a few degrees? I live in Pennsylvania, and just 100 miles from me there is an old quarry where you can dig out fossilized snail shells from where the ocean used to cover what is now hilly terrain. Mount St. Helens spewed more greenhouse gases in four days than the U.S. can produce in a year. The biggest greenhouse gas out there by percentage is water vapor. If it wasn’t for water vapor, the Earth would be uninhabitable by humans. You’re talking about humans managing a small percentage of the gases produced as a by-product of daily living. That’s nuts! If/when temperatures change in the oceans, it won’t be catastrophic. Areas that were previously too cold to support various marine life will now be able to be colonized by it. Imagine Red Sea-type reefs in the Galapagos. Life will adapt. Maybe some species of coral will bleach out, others will thrive. You are really not talking about saving the planet, you are talking about keeping it just the way it is. How about telling me about how to get to Irian Jaya before it becomes just another nest of rag heads waiting to execute tourists and skip the meaningless exercise in political activism?

— Dave Marx, West Chester, PA

Ben: You’re right. Some readers will take issue and demand refunds of their subscriptions. Count me as one. I’ll discontinue donations to Coral Reef Alliance, too, now that I have been confronted with its position in the man-made global warming debate. I think you are wrong about man’s contribution to global warming. Natural climate fluctuations are — well — natural. I know you are wrong about Europe’s (and the rest of the world’s) performance in greenhouse gas reductions under the Kyoto Protocol versus the USA’s non- Kyoto results. Our own tax-incentivized measures are providing considerably greater results than are the Europeans’ meager efforts. Wrecking the USA’s economy (and with it, much of the world’s economy) to chase this misguided ideal in the name of “moral obligation” is extremely shortsighted. I will not pay for a subscription that funds your political handbills on political issues of this sort. “Undercurrent is the consumer newsletter for sport divers that reviews scuba destinations and equipment.” Remember?

— Roger Soape, Houston, TX

Ben: Left coast OpEd content is inappropriate in a “Private, Exclusive Guide For Serious Divers” such as this. Dr. Fujita’s article is pure opinion-science; sincere, emotional, utterly unconvincing. The obvious answer to his question, “Can Coral Reefs Survive Global Warming?” is yes! They’ve survived far worse, as he must know. Chicken-Littleism is, in my 50-plus years experience, an endemic feature of the human condition. An innocent amusement, sure, but the sky usually remains firmly in place.

— Mike Hanson, Pueblo, CO

Dear Ben: I was very impressed with your article “Turn Up the Heat on Climate Change” in the January 2007 Undercurrent. The concept of stewardship—the responsible care, management and wise use of our natural resources for present and future generations—has tremendous significance for divers. On a recent liveaboard trip, none of the guests or crew were aware of what was playing out on the reefs we were diving on. I pointed out the algae completely overrunning many of the reefs and distinguished between areas where the hard corals were dead and areas in the process of dying. Hopefully, knowledge will produce efforts to solve the problem, such as making contributions to marine charities and advocating such as by writing informed letters to politicians. With your President Bush and our clone, Stephen Harper, the Kyoto Protocol is unlikely to succeed. While far from perfect, the Kyoto Protocol represents a great international effort at stewardship of the natural environment. Opponents often quote sources that appear eco-friendly but are well funded by right-wing groups with no interest in the environment, other than for whatever resources can be extracted. Severely stressed as they are, coral reefs will not survive the projected reality of climate change, and without coral reefs, scuba as most of us know it will cease to exist. We must bring the climate change process under control, much as we did with particulate pollutants a few decades ago.

— Brad Bowins, M.D., Toronto, Canada

Ben: Thank you for taking a stand on the global warming issue! It’s about time that the scuba industry speaks up. We’re soon going to have algae reefs instead of coral reefs to dive on. I’ve been teaching this for the past several years and it pleases me to finally see others accept that it’s happening! I just hope that we can respond in time.

— Devonna Sue Morra, Ph.D, Biology Dept., Saint Francis University, Loretto, PA

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