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2017 GCRA PLANS
GCRA is a global network of volunteers working for more than 25 years on fundamental research on coral threats and on direct action projects to reverse environmental degradation, especially coral reefs. GCRA has done far more to save coral reefs and reverse climate change than all of the Big International Non-Governmental Organizations (BINGOs) put together. Unlike the BINGOs, GCRA does not have millions of dollars in the bank (we are near zero), has no big donors or benefactors, relies almost entirely on very small and scarce donations (most in amounts of $10 or $20), has no fancy offices or salaries, and does not peddle glossy brochures, posters, coffee cups or T-shirts, so that we can put all of our efforts to work directly in the field with those who ask for our help to show them how to solve their own local problems.
We can’t help most of them unless they can provide us tickets, materials, a bed, and a bit of food, because we have no programmatic or discretionary funding at all, almost all our donations are specifically earmarked for specific projects. We could get vastly more accomplished if we had donations! If you genuinely care about the future of the planet, please help us to help those who need to know how to manage their environment with more production and less destruction, instead of giving donations to BINGOs who will waste it on fat salaries, luxurious offices, glossy brochures claiming false credit for effective environmental protection, and TV ads with “celebrities”. Below are some of the major program areas GCRA will pursue in 2017 if we have any funding at all.
SAVING CORAL REEF BIODIVERSITY: INDONESIA CORAL ARKS
Indonesia has the largest and most biodiverse coral reefs in the world, it is the heart of the heart of marine biodiversity. While Indonesian reefs that are still undamaged are the most remarkable reefs anywhere, around 95% have been severely damaged by the entire range of anthropogenic threats at the local, regional, and global scales. In 2016 Indonesia suffered severe coral mortality from heat stroke caused by global warming, and many of the finest reefs lost up to 95-99% of their corals. Temperatures have not cooled down significantly and continue to hover around the bleaching temperature thresholds, so corals have little chance to recover, and new severe bleaching in 2017 is practically assured unless there is a sudden and unprecedented decrease in temperature. Micronesia was similarly affected, but dive shops are now refusing to report bleaching to protect business.
Despite the massive death of corals from high temperature in 2016, Biorock reefs in Indonesia maintained under 24-hour power suffered no noticeable mortality at all, making it the only method that protects corals from dying from global warming.
Because the current pattern of extremely high temperature will almost certainly cause severe bleaching when the 2017 warm season hits Indonesia, it is urgent to set up as many properly maintained Biorock Coral Arks across Indonesia as possible in order to maintain the species until global warming can be reversed. We are already growing around 80% of all the coral genera in the world, but we want to save all of the species.
GCRA has held 11 Indonesian Biorock training workshops and trained hundreds of Indonesian students in the new methods. They are eager to go out and use their skills to support community-based restoration and management projects, so every Indonesian fishing village can restore their reefs and fisheries the way we have done in the world’s two largest coral reef restoration projects in Bali and Lombok, with no funding at all from any international agency or government, purely with local support and small donations from tourists. But there are no jobs for them to use their knowledge and skills, because Indonesia is not yet supporting large scale community-managed restoration of fisheries habitats.
80% of Indonesia’s protein comes from the sea, but coastal fisheries are in collapse. GCRA urgently seeks donations to expand the Indonesia Biorock coral reef and fisheries restoration projects to the many subsistence fishing villages that need and want it. Vanuatu is also a major priority for these efforts.
GROWING BACK SEVERLY ERODED BEACHES RAPIDLY AND NATURALLY
Global sea level rise threatens all beaches and low lying coasts nearly as much as global warming threatens coral reefs and fisheries. GCRA has developed the only method known to result in rapid natural restoration of severely eroded beaches, by restoring coral reefs, oyster reefs, sea grasses, salt marshes, and mangroves at extraordinary growth rates in places when ecosystems would die from severe stress, or where there has been no natural recovery at all. Yet there remains no serious effort to protect coasts against the inevitable impacts of global sea level rise that will flood coastlines for hundreds of thousands or millions of years if action is not urgently taken to reverse global climate change. Policy makers are simply pretending the problem does not exist, because we have so far hardly felt the effects compared to what is inevitably to come unless atmospheric CO2 is reduced around 40% to safe levels.
GCRA is seeking funds to help communities losing their beaches to grow them back quickly and naturally, while restoring their fisheries and biodiversity at the same time. Our first focus is Negril Beach, Jamaica’s largest and most important tourist beach, whose loss would seriously impact the national economy. Another is St. Jean Beach in Saint Barthelemy, where millions of dollars have been spent pumping sand on the beach that washes away. These have been chosen because GCRA scientists know these areas intimately, and have been asked by local communities and governments for help.
REGENERATIVE DEVELOPMENT TO REVERSE CLIMATE CHANGE
Despite all the publicity about the Great Barrier Reef bleaching in 2016, many more places around the globe were more badly affected by extreme high temperatures. GCRA invented and developed the HotSpot method for accurately predicting coral bleaching from satellite sea surface temperature, and has been able to warn people of impending coral bleaching before it can be seen on the reef since 1990, when we first warned the US Senate Hearing on Impacts of Global Warming that high temperature is the major cause of coral bleaching and mortality and that we are already at or above temperature levels that will quickly drive coral reef ecosystems to extinction in a few years if urgent action is not taken to reverse climate change. Deliberate failure of governments to act on global warming now places this catastrophe only a few years away.
The urgency cannot be understated because more than 100 countries will lose most of their marine biodiversity and ecosystem services such as fisheries, tourism, shore protection, and sand supplies for beaches, and billions of people will be forced to migrate away from flooding coasts. Yet instead of taking action, many governments are simply sticking their heads in the sand and pretending that the problem does not exist. GCRA will work with communities who realize that their future depends on their own actions, not waiting for hand-outs that could largely be stolen by politicians and the cronies they serve.
GCRA, through its affiliate, the Soil Carbon Alliance, has been a leader in showing how the global carbon cycle can be stabilized at safe levels to prevent runaway global warming and sea level rise, and the critical factors that determine how quickly this can be done. GCRA works closely with the Commonwealth Secretariat Regenerative Development to Reverse Climate Change Initiative, which represent 52 countries including most Small Island Developing States, and 2.5 billion people, a third of the world’s population. Major initiatives will be presented at the next United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations in Fiji.
GCRA is seeking funds to set up training programs in community-managed whole-watershed and coastal zone ecosystem restoration and management, especially in developing countries and islands who need it the most.
GCRA INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION AND CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION PROJECTS
GCRA places top priority on working closely with indigenous cultures, especially sea peoples, around the world, to give them access to the best scientific knowledge and new techniques for restoring their own ecosystems, preserving their ancient knowledge, while acquiring new concepts and methods that can empower them to adapt to global climate change on their own terms. GCRA works for little or no money (but expenses) to help the First Peoples acquire the best methods to restore their lands, waters, and cultures. Working with poor indigenous cultures is more important to us than helping rich countries who could afford climate change adaptation measures if they chose to. Details of 12 of the different indigenous communities around the world that are the GCRA’s top priorities are listed in a separate document that can be found in the related document on Indigenous Restoration.
GCRA is urgently seeking support to help these ancient, but threatened peoples, to preserve their knowledge and cultures, while adapting to climate change, and using the most appropriate modern methods under their own terms for their survival and advancement.
GCRA HISTORIC ARCHIVES
GCRA has the world’s largest collection of underwater photographs of coral reefs from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, taken by the inventor of macro-photography who took the first good underwater photographs, Fritz Goreau (Goro) and his son Thomas F. Goreau. These include the first underwater photographs to document reef ecology and health of the Great Barrier Reef, the Bahamas, Jamaica, the Red Sea, the West Pacific, and many parts of the Caribbean. It also includes nearly a thousand hours of digital video transects of coral reefs taken all around the Caribbean, Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia by Thomas J. F. Goreau since the mid 1990s. The photos include the first underwater quadrat and line transect data for quantitative marine ecology. It also contains several other historic underwater photographic archives donated by the original photographers and their heirs. None of this material has been scanned or archived due to lack of funds. It provides the only global archive of a lost coral reef world, showing how the reefs looked before their damage and before any other marine researchers saw them.
GCRA also has the worlds’ most important historical photographic archive of the development of science in the 20th century, taken by Fritz Goreau from the early 1930s through the late 1980s. He invented many fundamental macroscopic and microscopic methods for photographic documentation to reveal previously invisible phenomena, and was regarded by all his colleagues at LIFE Magazine as the finest photographer in the world. Only a tiny fraction of these photographs were published by editors who were interested only in pretty pictures and not in intellectual information content. The archive is unique in the extraordinary way that every aspect of each fundamental phenomena from all branches of science is explored is complete explored, along with detailed documentation, making a unique encyclopedia of science of unequalled historical, educational, and scientific value.
GCRA is urgently seeking donations to scan, archive, safely store, and post the entire image archive on the web, linked to the metadata.