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.