Name _____________________________
November 5, 2009
Foundations in Science
After listening to a lecture on coral reef ecosystems, their importance and the threats to their existence,
think about how climate change predictions could impact these fragile ecosystems. Specifically consider
increases in sea surface temperature, ocean acidification, and sea level rise associated with climate
change, combined with localized threats such as sedimentation, over fishing and eutrophication. How
might these factors impact a small, tropical island’s economy, government and culture?
Town Hall Meeting
Your island nation is becoming increasingly concerned with climate change predictions and how
changes like increasing sea level and sea surface temperature might affect their small island. In recent
years the elders in the community have noticed an increase in the number of hurricanes and each year
and the associated damage. Scuba divers who have frequented your island on vacation on an annual
basis have commented on the reduction in number of large reef fish and noticed some of the coral
turning white as summer temperatures reach all-time highs. The governor has called a town hall
meeting to discuss options for dealing with these changes and has invited several different interest
groups to present their concerns and suggestions for protecting the island’s natural resources, reef
environment, and economy during these trying times.
The class will be split up into six groups. Each group will represent and defend the position of one of the
following: conservationists, local fishermen, local dive shop owners, ambitious developers, island
government, and marine scientists.
Each group will be expected to give a brief (less than 5 minutes) presentation summing up their major
concerns that they would like to see addressed at this meeting and suggesting potential solutions.
-Powerpoint presentations are acceptable, but not required
-You will be TIMED so make sure your presentation is concise and within the time limit
The remainder of the class time will be spent in debate and discussion to make sure all concerns are
addressed and potential compromises are explored to protect our island nation and its unique
Each group will need to understand the potential threats to coral ecosystems and how they impact the
interest group they are representing. Each group will also need to thoroughly research potential policies
or legislation that have been proposed to help mitigate the effects of climate change and localized
impacts to island nations and their surrounding reef environments. This will include the ability to
discuss the differences between varying policies, the advantages and disadvantages and how the
policies would affect the other interest groups.
Questions to think about:
How does your group benefit from a healthy reef environment?
What are some ways the coral might be damaged? How might you prevent this sort of damage?
How might your group be impacted if the reef became degraded?
What is a Marine Protected Area (MPA)?
What are the advantages and/or disadvantages to limiting fishing, development, and/or scuba diving on
the island?
Some good resources:

Name November 5, 2009 Foundations in Science After listening to a