The Other I

May 20, 2019

Yes, we CAN!

Filed under: Just Stuff — theotheri @ 8:19 pm

The temptation is to despair, to become so depressed that we stop reading the news, and can’t even maintain a coherent conversation about it.  The temptation is to accept that if the American government doesn’t take climate change seriously, if the President even says he doesn’t believe in it, the human species may very well destroy this planet we call home so profoundly that we can no longer survive in it.

But I have just read one of the most encouraging pieces of research in relation to saving the coral reefs that has convinced me our worst enemy is the temptation to give up trying.

A paper just published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes research by two professors who have tested out their idea that some coral reefs survive dramatic increases in water temperature that is bleaching and killing so many of our critically important coral reefs around the world.  In fact, we are beginning to realize that coral reefs are not just beautiful under-water structures.  They are home to many different kinds of life,  and often provide critical barriers to the lang masses on which we live.

Coral reefs are built by fixed animal organisms that eject algae with which they develop a symbiotic relationship.  The algae provide nutrients to the coral, which in turn provide shelter for the algae.

But when there are sudden increases in temperature, the algae can be bleached and die and if the temperature changes are long enough or high enough, the entire reef can be destroyed.

But what these two professors noticed was that not all coral reefs respond to temperature increases in the same way.  Some algae seem to be much more resistant to the destruction of increased heat.  And so they nurtured algae from coral reefs that seemed more able to survive temperature increases, and transplanted them to reefs that were more susceptible to heat damage.

And they found that the transplanted algae did a great deal to protect reefs where algae were clearly under threat.

The research is now being extended.  If results occur on a broader scale, we may have found a way of saving our coral reefs and all the life it sustains even in the face of unprecedented global warming.

This particular research has a deeper message, though, than how to protect just our coral reefs.  I think it is one example of why it matters that we believe in ourselves, believe that, despite the enormous challenges involved, the entire human species is not sitting back, paralyzed with disbelief or hopelessness.

Auto makers are making far-less polluting electric cars, for instance.  There are experiments with developing commercial airplanes driven by solar power.  Renewable energy sources are multiplying across the world.

There is not the same disregard for tossing plastics into our waters, and there are several ingenious methods being tested for removing the millions of tons of plastics that are already killing so much of the fish life in our seas.   Many farmers are growing their crops without using the insecticides that are decimating the bees and other insects so essential to fertilizing the food on which we humans depend simply to stay alive.

We all will have to do our part, sometimes something as small as not leaving our picnic trash behind on the ground, or tossing an empty coffee cup out the car window.  Sometimes they are major scientific breakthroughs.  But we’re all in this together.

We can each make a difference.



  1. Thanks for sharing HOPE, Terry. Just watched a corral reef video. WOW


    Comment by kay lent — May 20, 2019 @ 9:18 pm | Reply

  2. Thanks. We need all the hope we can scrape together!


    Comment by Chris Lawrence — May 21, 2019 @ 2:19 pm | Reply

  3. Thank you too for your encouraging responses. It keeps me going too.


    Comment by theotheri — May 22, 2019 @ 7:36 pm | Reply

  4. Thanks Terry for your encouraging words. In the last year I’ve learned about methane gases via animals & how such contributes negatively to climate change. Also, animal rights is becoming more of a concern, and some writers/researchers are encouraging folks to become vegetarians, or at least “eat less meat” as a way to help the climate and the animals too. (ie. Glenn Greenwald, Rep. AOC) Years ago, my husband Joseph Grassi wrote a book on Animal Liberation. We can make a difference, small as it may seem, in choosing what we eat. Gracias Terry!


    Comment by Carolyn Grassi — May 27, 2019 @ 5:58 pm | Reply

  5. p.s. Terry, I meant to include this article from The Guardian re: Methane gases and animals.


    Comment by Carolyn Grassi — May 27, 2019 @ 6:02 pm | Reply

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