Setu channel: marauding through ocean systems

Fwd. Letter from Chitra, 28 May 2007 

Dear Dr. Kalyanaraman —  Having reviewed the deluge of information on this project from you and other sources over the past few days, I thought I would share my views on how I think the matter should be resolved. I am sure there are many others involved that have more experience and erudition than I  — still for what it is worth, I offer my perspective. As a woman; as a home maker;  as a parent concerned not only about the present but about the legacy we bequeath the future; and as a bystander witnessing the steady unraveling of civil society worldwide —  I violently oppose all violence, real or threatened, as a means to any end, including the dismissal of this project.  In the first place, when one loses the moral high ground, all other “victories” are rendered meaningless. Furthermore, there is no need to take matters that far.  

Why?  Because, when examined in  the daylight of dispassionate reason it is readily apparent that the SethuSamudram project as proposed is a hare-brained scheme, which would inflict long-term economic and ecological losses far greater than any benefits that might be listed. Forget Hindu and anti-Hindu, forget Om and Rome, forget Brahmins and Dravidas, in fact forget the whole sorry human species alltogether.  We will all not be around much longer at the rate at which we are letting anger and mutual prejudice cloud common sense and reason. The busybodies in favor of this project are talking about tearing up a marine ecosystem that has taken thousands of years to consolidate, at a time when coral reefs worldwide already are experiencing unprecedented rates of die-off due to global warming, overfishing,  underwater bombardment and chemical bleaching. The die-off of coral reefs are turning vast tracts of the ocean into dead zones.  Pretty soon there will be no fish left for the fishermen.    Equally dire, with every imbalance we introduce into the marine ecosystem, we further affect the carbon absorption capabilities of the ocean, thereby increasing the greenhouse effect in the atmosphere.  See the following sources on how the oceans act as a carbon sink: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_sink#Oceans 

From which: ” However, ocean acidification by invading anthropogenic CO2 may affect the biological pump by negatively impacting calcifying organisms such as coccolithophores, foraminiferans and pteropods…. the disruption of life in the sea may turn it into a carbon source rather than a carbon sink.”  The following link explains how phytoplankton aid carbon absorption:  http://www.gdrc.org/oceans/fsheet-02.html  

Please note excerpt from the following link: Most countries are now slowly killing their reefs in order to gain short term financial profit from them in the form of tourism revenues, fish, sand, and jobs, but are doing so at the long term cost of slowly wiping out the free services and converting reefs from financial resources into economic losses. http://globalcoral.org/imprtnce.html 

I will share a few other links that I have accumulated on coral reefs  at the end of this email — that will hopefully help in getting a few heads out of the sand to examine what is really at stake when we go marauding into ocean systems.   Just because we do not see something, it doesn’t mean it is not important. We cannot see the blood coursing through our veins, but we do know that upsetting the balance of  its constituents affects the health of the body as a whole.  That is exactly how important the health of marine ecosystems are to the health of the planet as a whole — and since we live on it and depend on it — ourselves as well.  

In conclusion — even if there were no religious objections from Hindus, the cost-benefit analysis performed by Retired Captain H. Balakrishnan of the Indian Navy combined with the inescapable environmental costs of this project, prove it to not be worth the paper it is written on.  It appears to be one of those myopic political power-displays, more sound than substance, bringing narrow benefits to an even narrower group of people.  I hope the additional links at the end of this email are helpful. I believe this issue must  be debated by appealing to rational intelligence, scientific literacy, and a nationalism based upon the collective good rather than on sectarian one-upmanship.  Please feel free to share this email with anyone who might be interested. best regards,  

Chitra  Raman 

ADDITIONAL LINKS  http://science.netscape.com/story/2006/12/21/worst-coral-reef-die-off-in-11000-years Quake causes coral reef die-off – human interference also implicated 

http://tinyurl.com/2gpjgk  

How coral reefs are formed  http://www.factmonster.com/ce6/sci/A0813506.html 

What is the importance of coral reefs and preserving marine ecology?  http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/southflorida/coral/importance.html 

http://library.thinkquest.org/C0125204/importance/importance.htm 

http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/students/coral/index.html

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