What is killing our reefs?

I happen to be one of those conservatives who believes global warming (or climate change, as it is now more accurately called), is real and caused in part by man. That said, global warming is also partly a natural phenomenon. Some experts suggest man’s contribution to the changes in climate are just 1 percent to 2 percent. Global warming skeptics suggest the impact is practically negligible and that efforts to slow it are unnecessary given the economic and regulatory burdens those efforts create.

Published in The Tampa Tribune, Sunday September 28, 2014 By Chris Ingram

Earlier this month, my wife Amy and I took a trip to St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, for a week of rest and relaxation. It was our fourth visit to St. John in the past 12 years.

St. John is unique, as it is mostly preserved thanks to the generosity of the Rockefeller family, which donated 5,000 acres to the U.S. government in 1956. Following subsequent purchases of land by the federal government, Virgin Islands National Park now covers 60 percent of the island.

St. John and the park are famous for its coral reefs and picturesque beaches — one of which is considered among the 10 best in the world. The park has miles of trails for hiking through mountainous tropical rainforest, and the reefs are favorites of snorkelers and scuba divers — though the latter is prohibited in most reefs within the park’s boundaries.

During our week in St. John, we visited a different beach or two each day, selecting those with the best snorkeling. September is the beginning of what is usually an active hurricane season in the Caribbean, so there are fewer tourists, many restaurants and tourist-related businesses are closed and the normally packed streets of Cruz Bay, the largest town in St. John, are nearly bare.

A colorful (and fast) Reef Squid swims the reefs of St. John.
A colorful (and fast) Reef Squid swims the reefs of St. John.

The trade-off of having to potentially dodge hurricanes is an acceptable one when you consider you can go to the most popular of St. John’s beaches, Trunk Bay in the park, and share it with no more than a half-dozen people on most any day there isn’t a cruise ship in port at nearby St. Thomas.

Although much of St. John will never be developed because of the national park, that doesn’t mean St. John’s ecosystem is being adequately preserved and protected — directly or indirectly.

The first time we went to St. John a dozen years ago, we snorkeled at Trunk Bay and were dazzled by the plethora of fish, sea turtles and vibrant colored corals just 75 or so yards off its sandy beaches. Every time we have been back since that first visit, we have noticed the corals are in decline, and the overall health of the reef appears worse.

Unfortunately, other reefs we snorkeled looked to be in similar deteriorating condition.

The obvious question is: What is the cause of the rapid deterioration of St. John’s coral reefs?

Some suggest that Continue reading “What is killing our reefs?”

Does the G.O.P. Wear a Thinking Cap or a Dunce Cap?

It’s easy to see why conservatives are frustrated. Maybe that’s why they threw tea bags at the White House instead of discussing a platform on taxation. But this kind of erratic, pundit-driven development simply doesn’t work. Over the next five weeks, Congress stands poised to tackle climate change, health care, and a Supreme Court nomination. The minority won’t technically win any of these fights, so they really only have one viable option: go back to the drafting table and start working. (Either that or start a betting ring on who’ll go crazy next.)

Actually, what the party needs are fewer spotlights and more desk lamps

By Kelsey Stapler

There are some who believe those in high office should be held to a higher standard. Given recent events, however, Republican voters might just settle for officials to stay within the margins of polite society. Conservatives’ resignation (or worse, denial) in the face of political falling stars threatens to become the GOP’s next biggest problem.

Of course, politicians are human. They screw up, have affairs, quit their jobs early, and fly to Argentina just like the rest of us. But the bizarre antics of Ensign, Sanford, Palin, and others are also vintage examples of image trumping intelligence. Continue reading “Does the G.O.P. Wear a Thinking Cap or a Dunce Cap?”

Three Hotheads

By now most folks who keep up with such things have heard that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced to an astonished world that she’s “trying to save the planet.” Hardly a modest mission, even for the self-styled most powerful woman on earth.<!–

Can any one of these people save the planet?

By Larry Thornberry

With Captain Kirk, Fancy Nancy Pelosi, and John McCain trying to save it, what chance has the planet got?

By now most folks who keep up with such things have heard that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced to an astonished world that she’s “trying to save the planet.” Hardly a modest mission, even for the self-styled most powerful woman on earth. Continue reading “Three Hotheads”

Happy Birthday, Earth Day; You’re On Your Own

The nation that invented the atom bomb to end World War II could take on global climate change with the same kind of drive and innovation

By Elan Barnehama

I’m thinking that President Bush had the annual celebration of Earth Day in mind when he announced last week that the U.S. strategy for tackling global warming was to pretty much do nothing for the next dozen years. It could be that he was reacting to the news that China has overtaken the United States as the world’s leader in carbon emission. I mean, really, how many more setbacks can one administration take? Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Earth Day; You’re On Your Own”