#SciFund, a month long initiative to raise funds for a variety of scientific research projects, is once again upon us. Project leaders post a project description and an appeal for funds, and members of the public are invited to make small donations to projects that they deem worthy. Donations come with rewards such as access to project logs, images from fieldwork, your name in the acknowledgements of publications, among other possibilities. Many of these projects are marine or conservation themed. Once again, we’re highlighting some of our favorite marine science proposals. Please take a look at these projects and, should you so desire, send some financial support their way. If you do make a donation, let them know how you found out about their project and leave a comment (anonymous if you’d like) on this post letting us know.
Coping with stress: Coral reefs in Kiribati
Corals, the animals that famously build reefs get most of their energy, and most of their colour, from microscopic algae that live inside the coral tissue. This unique arrangement, however, is very sensitive to the surroundings. When the water gets too hot, the corals expel or consume the algae, and literally turn white. If the hot water persists, this “bleaching” process can effectively starve corals to death. The long-term survival of coral reefs will depend on the ability of corals to deal with increasing heat stress.
Dr. Simon Donner’s research focuses on “climate change and coral bleaching, the El Nino phenomenon, climate change adaptation in the Pacific Islands, and obstacles to public education about climate change”. Funding for this project will all be spent in Kiribati, one of the coolest island nations. Head on over to Simon’s project page and send some rocket fuel his way!
Kiribati is perhaps one of the most remote countries in the world. Despite its distance from the sources of environmental degradation, it will probably be the very first country to be destroyed by climate change. Most of the country, a collection of small islands spanning an area almost as large as the United States, lies less than 2 meters above sea level. Imagine having your entire country disappear beneath the waves during you lifetime.
Beyond that, this talk touches on the process of doing science and our responsibilities as scientists towards the nations where we collect our data. Many of us work in the developing world, collecting samples which will then be flow to our labs in the United States or the EU or other developed countries. For the most part, that is the end of our interaction. Do scientists have a responsibility to “give back” to the places they’ve collected their data? What is the extent of that responsibility?