Saturday, January 05, 2008

Another reason to support Obama?

"When you are snorkeling through the coral reefs, you realize that a slight change in temperature or increase in sediment and runoff could end up destroying it all and making it unavailable for your children. That is something you worry about."

- Barack Obama in an interview with Grist


William M. Connolley said...

If he can tell, just by snorkelling through them, that a slight change in temperature would destroy coral, then he clearly has mystical powers. That could be a reason to support him. OTOH it might be nice to find someone capable or realising this without actually going there, simply by reading papers. Perhaps that might encourage other people to do the same.

Caspar Henderson said...

On the first point Belette is strictly speaking correct, but many of us are prepared to forgive some politicians a lack of precision in media sound bites when we think their head and heart are in the right place.

Regarding not actually being there: yes, and I would try to convince people from rich countries to maximise the sending of assistance (under transparent and accountable frameworks) to poor communities dependent on reefs and other 'fragile' natural resources, and minimise the amount of eco-tourism they do, however well-managed. But this is a hard sell.

Unknown said...

Good points. Thanks to geography, Obama might be a rare exception to Belette's otherwise correct argument. His comment on reefs follows from growing up in Hawaii (and presumably hearing about bleaching and sedimentations either in the news or from scientists). This is how the paragraph with the coral reef comment began:

"But when I think of my own connection to the earth, I think of my time in Hawaii, my birthplace. I think those of us who grew up in Hawaii have a particular attachment to the land and understand how fragile it is."

William M. Connolley said...

Simon - I don't see how your interpretation saves him. Unless you are suggesting that he did indeed notice "slight variations" in temperature from year to year, and noticed that did "end up destroying it all"?

Whether he visited there as a tourist, or grew up there, his comments make no sense.

Unknown said...

No doubt, his wording is confusing, it is mixing what he has experienced and what he has read or been told. Even the regular free-diving fishermen I've interviewed they have trouble noticing the difference in the peak water temperature from one year to the next. That doesn't change the fact that Obama seems to recognize the value of coral reefs (because he grew up in the tropics).

Caspar Henderson said...

Surely Obama is eliding what he knows from responsible scientific reporting with his own experience and there's nothing necessarily wrong with that. He wasn't speaking at a PhD viva.

For other reasons to support Obama (not that any of us three have the option, I think, being a Canadian and two Brits), consider Jonathan Schell:

The most significant conversion to abolition [of nuclear weapons comes from] Barack Obama...He stated, "We'll keep our commitment under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty on the long road towards eliminating nuclear weapons.... As we do this, we'll be in a better position to lead the world in enforcing the rules of the road if we firmly abide by those rules. It's time to stop giving countries like Iran and North Korea an excuse."

See, too, Frank Rich on Turning the page

Anonymous said...

I can't believe it. A presidential election in a nation descending swiftly into rampant fascism and all ya can discuss is what divers notice about the water temps. You won't have the option of doing anything about any of it by voting for yet another "club member" the media and AIPAC endorse. Unless of course, you think that by further tyrannizing the public via the dempublican party things will be handlee d 4 U ...Frredoms ain't free, but tyranny costs alot more..