Baselines shift. People take their early experiences and build a vision of what their world is like. This vision is the baseline against which new experiences are compared. This is true for those of us contributing to this booklet. The habit of building baselines anew each generation would serve us well if we lived in a world which changed only suddenly, but it risks us failing to notice slower, longterm changes.
Coral reefs appear to be changing in a number of fundamental and detrimental ways. Many reef scientists, comparing coral reefs to canaries in a coal mine, argue that coral reef deterioration is an early warning of major global environmental disruptions in the coming decades. The tragedy of recent coral reef decline is that too few people actually know what coral reefs are supposed to be like, and too few of those who now study reefs witnessed what coral reefs used to be like decades ago.
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