Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Calling a spade a spade

Italians will romance you, Americans will sell you, but Australians are more blunt, they are inclined to tell it like it is. They'll call a spade a spade, not a a digging tool or cultivation implement or even a blunt instrument.

In Australia this week, scientists at the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns, Queensland, are telling it like it is. And it isn't pretty.

It's not the decaying coral reefs that aren't pretty, though they aren't, it is the blindness and inertia of political leaders that isn't pretty.

Professor Stephen Palumbi, from Stanford University, pushes back against the view that scientists have failed to communicate the reality of climate change and its likely consequences.
Scientists have done all they can to describe the severity of the problem and the solutions now rest with political leaders.

To add oomph to the message, the Symposium presented a Consensus Statement on Climate Change and Coral Reefs that outlines the core facts and is signed by more than 2500 scientists. The statement was drafted by a group of eminent scientists under the auspices of the Center for Ocean Solutions (COS) at Stanford University in California.
The international Coral Reef Science Community calls on all governments to ensure the future of coral reefs, through global action to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and via improved local protection of coral reefs. Coral reefs are important ecosystems of ecological, economic and cultural value yet they are in decline worldwide due to human activities. Land-based sources of pollution, sedimentation, overfishing and climate change are the major threats, and all of them are expected to increase in severity.

What more can climate scientists do and say? They conduct the research and publish the facts. Their institutions have prominent websites about climate change (CSIRO, BOM, PIK, Met Office, NASA, NOAA, and more) and individual scientists have published books, websites and blogs aimed at general audiences. You'll find some of these resources listed on this blog on the Take Action tab and the Book/Film/Creative tab.

Let's stop pretending that political failure to act is the fault of scientists. It's not. It's the fault of politicians who choose not to know, choose not to lead, choose not to educate their constituencies. 

By the way, Australians are not the only people who speak bluntly. The hardy folk from Yorkshire and Durham, people like my Grandma Blanche, have it in spades! 

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