Coral Reefs Could Be Decimated by 2100 – ScienceNOW

As usual, the scientists who are undertaking this kind of research and the people who write about it are using language that offers idiotic deniers a foothold for misrepresenting their work. In this case, it is the title of this article. By using the word “could”, they give lazy people the opportunity to go around saying, “they never said it will happen just that it could. These scientists aren’t sure about anything. That’s another reason not to trust them”. This conversation hasn’t actually happened yet but it will. Anyone reading any blog will see this sort of comment all the time. For these people, the title is all that’s required. No further reading is necessary.

So, why have they used the word “could”? Well, it’s because the researchers were modelling future scenarios based on current trends and in essence were leaving the door open for mitigation efforts because they did not include any social aspects to their study. Were they to model the current trends in human activities to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions as well as political attitudes towards environmental policy, they would inevitably come to the conclusion that anything we are likely to do will be too little too late for the reefs.

I think it is time for scientists, science writers and editors to start being more blunt. It is time to make lazy people read the papers or articles and report the results unequivocably. A much better title for this article would have been.

“Because policy makers are science laypeople and are reliant on noisy idiots and big business to maintain power, coral reefs will be decimated by 2100.” That is far more clear-cut and representative of what is really going on.

Coral Reefs Could Be Decimated by 2100 – ScienceNOW.

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6 responses to “Coral Reefs Could Be Decimated by 2100 – ScienceNOW

  1. john byatt

    It is not always the author but sometimes the editor who titles the piece which is then used by the author as a reference
    you are correct however you only have to look at that absurd title about how the Anthropogenic fraction has not changed, They still do not get that one

  2. Skeptikal

    You have to love these prophecies that could/might/possibly happen in 100 years time.

    What amazes me is that you’re more certain of the future coral destruction than the scientist who made the claim. If you know more about the coral than the scientist who wrote the paper, then maybe you should write your own paper… giving the world clarity to the certainty to this pending event.

  3. Craig King

    I would take that to mean that (IF) . . temperatures continue rising . . (THEN) . . bad things will happen to coral. It appears that such a caveat as “could” is justified in light of the fact that there is much uncertainty regarding both the fact and quantity of future warming.

    The vast majority of climate related papers published in the journals are of this type. They assume warming will rise along with atmospheric CO2 and then project the effects onto whatever is their topic of interest but acknowledge some uncertainty by using the modifier “could”, “may”, “might” etc. Nothing wrong with that is there?

    • It is the correct way to write but the devil is always in the detail. It’s also part of the conservative pyche scientists employ when they are writing. Speak to the same scientists off the record and you get different picture and many are extremely concerned,much more than you can gleen from their writing. My point is, when the piece is an article like the one I have highlighted, there needs to be a more blunt approach. Clearly you have taken the time to read the article and various papers however, idiots like the commentator directly above you don’t bother and do exactly as I predicted. They read the headline only and that’sall they need to then go and spout their drivel and feel justified in doing so.

      The point you make about uncertainty of future warming isn’t entirely accurate. There is a high confidence that business as usual will result in severe warming. The uncertainty only revolves around how severe it will be. As far as coral reefs are concerned, and as it pointed out in the article, their tolerance levels fall below the future projected levels of both temperature and acidification.

      “If we are on the [business as usual] emissions trajectory, then the reefs are toast,” Caldeira says. In that case, all the reefs in the study were surrounded by water with Aragonite saturation below 3, dooming them. In that scenario, Caldeira says, “details about sensitivity of corals are just arguments about when they will die.”

      “In the absence of deep reductions in CO2 emissions, we will go outside the bounds of the chemistry that surrounded all open ocean coral reefs before the industrial revolution,” says Carnegie climate modeler Katharine Ricke, the first author on the new study.”