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require all of the ingenuity humanity can muster and will preoccupy us for the remainder of the century. The problems appear so overwhelming that many are ready to write off coral reefs and all of the other marine life that will be drastically affected. But such defeatism belies the growing realization that local protection from overexploitation and pollution confers some as yet poorly understood level of resistance and resilience to the effects of climate change on coral reefs (Dulvy et al., 2002; Hughes et al., 2007; Knowlton and Jackson, 2008), and the same is very likely true for other marine ecosystems. This is an important area for new scientific research to better understand the synergies among different drivers of ecosystem change and their likely consequences. Most importantly, local conservation measures may help to buy time for marine ecosystems until we bring the rise of greenhouse gases under more effective control.


I thank Julia Baum, Davy Kline, Nancy Knowlton, Loren McClenachan, Marah Newman, Forest Rohwer, Stuart Sandin, Enric Sala, Jennifer Smith, and Sheila Walsh for sharing their thoughts about the ecological degradation of the ocean and for many helpful suggestions. The William E. and Mary B. Ritter Chair of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography provided invaluable support.

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