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Do you like to dive?

Do you like cool colorful tropical fish?

Do you like coral reefs?

If you do, take advantage now because they are going away very, very fast.

In another 50 years, coral reefs will be a myth our grandchildren won’t believe, like unicorns and moderate Republicans.

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  • ScrewyCanuck

    We are so screwed.

  • Jameson Quinn

    If “take advantage now” means air travel, then you will be going over your reasonable carbon budget (even assuming that a fairy magically gives us unlimited renewable energy starting in 2050), and thus contributing to the problem.

    (I say this while sitting a plane-ride away from my house, so I am equally to blame. But I’ve taken many bus rides which for most people would be plane rides, so at least I’m only partly a hypocrite.)

    • Holden Pattern

      The problem is that there’s literally fuck-all that regular people can do short of actual violent revolution to deal with this problem — the totalitarian states are trying to generate prosperity, and too few of the democracies can act (see Republican Party, passim). We’re done.

      So you might as well fly to see the glaciers and the coral reefs now (also, enjoy your sushi before most of that fish is gone), because the incremental level of harm you can do is nothing compared to the collective harm that is being done by the insane and powerful who have made policy decisions to reject science.

      • Jameson Quinn

        Wow, if I get to do literally fuck-all, sign me up!

      • RedSquareBear

        I had always hoped I would be part of the generation that would fix problems, not the one that would watch the death of the oceans.

        It’s hubris either way, the notion that somehow “your generation” (there’s a dumb concept) will be “the important ones” (there’s another dumb concept).

        But still.

    • Or you can buy a carbon offset at a website like Terrapass.

      • Jameson Quinn

        And low-carbon transportation options for very cheap.

        If you believe you can go on flying around the world as long as you pay someone you don’t know to tell you that they planted a tree you’ll never see, then I think my option is better.

  • McKingford

    Coral reefs are actually a great argument against “mitigation” strategies, in lieu of simply reducing carbon emissions.

    As a result of foot-dragging on the climate file for the last 20 years, we are going to go right from “no such thing as climate change” to “too late to do anything about it”. And so we see floated these ideas that instead of reducing carbon emissions, maybe we can engineer our way out of it. One of the geoengineering ideas suggested is releasing sulfur aerosols, for instance.

    But as even if that was entirely successful, it would not address the loss of coral reefs, which is caused as much by acidification (which geoengineering does not address) as by temperature change.

    • Jameson Quinn

      A great argument, sure. But of course the best argument against relying solely on mitigation is that it’s fucking stupid. (No offense to you; I’m sure you realize this.)

      Using a 7% discount rate (which is already hugely biased against action; a fair rate would be 0%, or maybe something like -0.5% if you think we’ve already passed sustainability and/or that climate holds the most-significant existential risks), the “net-present-value” cost of mitigation on the current emissions path is STILL several times higher than aggressively lowering emissions.

  • Stag Party Palin


  • Indeed not w/ a bang but a whimper. We used to think we’d suicide in an atomic holocaust; now we’ll stew/boil in our own waste as the environment becomes fit only for cockroaches & tropical fauna & flora.

    Couldn’t happen to a more deserving species.

    • Jameson Quinn

      Nah. I’d say our species has as much to be legitimately proud of as any, and more than most. If we drive ourselves extinct this way, then of course we deserved it; but if, as I hope, we don’t, then anyone who’s rueful that we didn’t go gently into that good night because the Holocaust and pollution and Nagasaki, has the option of self-deporting from reality, but I’d discourage that.

      • expatchad

        Move to the Philippines and acclimate yur’sef.
        I’ve been here three years and have gone from using the aircon 100% to less than 20%.

        When it gets too hot here I’ll be just right for Northern Canada.

        Or mummified.

        • expatchad

          I have been little dehydrated lately….

      • mpowell

        It doesn’t really seem likely to me that this kind of environmental damage will drive the species extinct on its own. The first effect will be a massive depopulation of less wealthy countries. But at a much lower population level, the world can sustain something like our current habits much more easily. The risk to the species is that in the transition a nuclear war occurs. India and China have nukes after all.

        • I’m not sure that a massive depopulation of less wealthy countries will happen, however. If anything, environmental tragedies tend to drive people into poorer areas, in part because of the lower standards of living and in part because the rich portions of a culture kick out the poor at the drop of a hat. You’d really need a Chernobyl or Bhopal level event to close an area down.

  • I’m going to bring up good news.

    Things may not be as bleak as first thought.

    As a diver and someone who’s involved in coral reforestation and preservation projects, there are two things at work that might allow for the resiliency of tropical coral reefs.

    1) Global warming is pushing the northern (and south of the equator, southern) distributions of coral further from the equator. This was, of course, to be expected but it’s happened faster than previously calculated.

    2) It turns out that coral are much more resilient than we originally thought.

    While none of this should be construed as mitigating a bad situation, it does mean there is still time to act.

    • Jameson Quinn

      That is true. That is what warming is doing. So, if all we had was warming, we’d have viable new reefs in a few hundred years, and species evolved to live there in a few tens of thousands, and a fully-adapted ecosystem in a few million. Great!

      But there’s also the problem of acidification. Which is less tractable.

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