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纽约时报双语(双语外刊):珊瑚礁的大灾难:人类能做些什么

2019-4-12 18:40| 发布者: admin| 查看: 43| 评论: 0

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Saving Coral

珊瑚礁的大灾难:人类能做些什么

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The question is not if we can save the coral reefs, but if we choose to.

问题不在于我们是否有能力拯救珊瑚礁,而在于我们是否愿意选择这么做。

As ecological catastrophes go, it’s hard to find anything more bleak or depressing than the coral reef bleaching crisis. We’ve known for 30 years that climate change leads to the death of entire coral reef ecosystems, and yet we’ve done almost nothing to save them.

很难找到比珊瑚礁白化危机更加令人沮丧或心情暗淡的生态灾难了。30年来,我们一直知道气候变化导致整个珊瑚礁生态系统的死亡,却几乎没有做任何事情来拯救。

Fully 16 per cent of the world’s tropical reefs died in 1998, and 2016 was even worse: 70 per cent of the world’s reefs were damaged, some irreparably. Fully 30 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef turned into barren wastelands that year – climbing to 50 per cent of Australia’s crown jewel by the next summer.

1998年,全球有整整16%的热带珊瑚礁死亡,而到了2016年,情况变得更糟了:全球70%的珊瑚礁遭到破坏,有些更是无法挽回的。这一年,大堡礁有整整30%的珊瑚礁惨遭浩劫——到次年夏天,这颗澳大利亚皇冠上的明珠失去了50%的珊瑚。

So far we’ve lost half the world’s reefs, and one of the biggest threats – climate change – shows no sign of abating. Scientists say if we do nothing, 90 per cent of the world’s tropical reefs will be gone by 2050, along with all the fish, wildlife and humans that depend on them.

到目前为止,我们已经失去了世界半数的珊瑚礁,而气候变化作为最大的威胁之一,并没有减弱的迹象。科学家表示,如果我们毫无作为的话,全球90%的热带珊瑚到2050年之前将遭遇灭顶之灾,一同消失的还有所有依赖它们而生存的鱼类、野生动物和人类。

“The most shocking thing about watching this crisis unfold was having to hear people say again and again that if we just put big boundaries around the world’s reefs - enclosing them in national parks, marine protected areas and ‘no-take’ areas - they would be fine,” says Dr Ruth Gates, Director of the Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology.

夏威夷海洋生物研究所所长盖茨(Ruth Gates)博士说,目睹这场危机爆发最令人震惊的是,你不得不反复听到人们说,如果我们把世界上的珊瑚礁给围起来,设立国家公园、海洋保护区和禁捕区,它们就不会有事了。

“Well, 2016 taught us starkly that this isn’t true: that is the best managed reef in the world, and we lost a full third of it in one summer.”

嗯,2016年的状况对我们是当头棒喝,事实并非如此:这是世界上管理得最好的珊瑚礁,但一个夏天我们就失去了整整三分之一。

Is there any hope? Yes, says Dr. Gates, if we let go of outdated ideas about wildlife conservation and start to actively intervene. “We have to stop thinking that if we leave nature alone and treat it with the utmost respect that is sufficient. It’s not,” she says.

那还有希望吗?盖茨博士说,如果我们放弃关于野生动物保护的过时观念,开始积极干预的话,还会有希望。她说,我们必须停止认为只要我们不去管大自然,以最大的尊重对待它,这就足够了。不是这样的。

Not all hope is lost, she says: we just need to apply the science, ingenuity, manpower and – above all – money, while we still can.

并非所有的希望都已幻灭,她说:我们只要运用科学、智谋、人力以及资金投入——这点尤其重要,我们还是有机会的。

“It might seem hopeless – but look at the hole in the ozone layer,” she says. “We identified the problem, acted to remove harmful gases from the atmosphere, and boom: the hole closed. That’s remarkable, and it shows that we can fix these things, we just have to start acting now.”

她说,现看起来似乎没有希望,但看看臭氧层的那个大洞吧。我们发现了问题所在,采取措施消除大气中的有害气体,然后砰的一声,那个洞就合上了。这是非常了不起的事,说明我们是可以有所作为的,只是我们现在就要开始行动。

And the place to start is not with reserves, but with research: understanding the complex biology of these strange animals and finding ways to protect them. “We just need to apply cutting edge science to this,” says Dr Gates.

一开始要做的不是建立保护区,而是要做研究:了解这些奇怪生物的复杂生理习性,并且找到保护它们的办法。盖茨博士说:我们的确需要将尖端科学应用在这个地方。

<STRONG>Why are corals are so vulnerable?</STRONG>

<STRONG>珊瑚为何如此脆弱?</STRONG>

Understanding why corals are so vulnerable to climate change involves understanding a particular quirk of their biology: while most people think corals are plants (or even rocks), they are in fact animals. Not just animals, but clonal organisms that live in clusters of genetically identical units, called polyps. Adding to their complexity, those polyps live in symbiotic relationships with algae that reside in their tissues and photosynthesize sunlight like plants, functioning as tiny cellular batteries. These algae provide up to 90 per cent of a coral’s energy, providing them with both nourishment and pigmentation.

要了解珊瑚为什么这么容易受气候变化的影响,就需要理解它们在生物学上的一个离奇之处:虽然大多数人认为珊瑚是植物(甚至是石头),但它们其实是动物。而且它们不仅仅是动物,还是生活在一群基因相同单元群里的克隆生物,叫珊瑚虫。更复杂的是,这些珊瑚虫与生活在它们组织中的海藻处于一种共生关系,这些藻类像植物一样进行光合作用,作用类似微型的蜂窝电池。这些藻类为珊瑚提供了高达90%的能量,同时还为它们提供营养和色素沉着。

When summer temperatures remain just a few degrees warmer than the normal maximum, stressed corals respond by ejecting their energy-producing, colourful algae. Multi-hued underwater tapestries of branching, bulbous, feathery corals transform within days into barren landscapes of white skeletons. Bleached corals can recover if the water temperature drops within a week or two: the remaining algae can repopulate, and reefs return to good health. But if cooler climes fail to return in time the bleached corals die. Their soft tissues rot away, and white skeletons become smothered with brown seaweed and slime. Fish, turtles and other animals vanish, leaving the grisly graveyard to wither indefinitely. Vibrant ecosystems become dismal wastelands.

当夏季的温度维持在比正常的最高值还高出几度的时候,珊瑚受到压力,将产生能量的彩色藻类排出体外。由枝状、球茎状和羽毛状的珊瑚构成的五颜六色的水下挂毯,几天的功夫就变成了茫茫白骨的荒凉景象。如果水温在一两周内下降,白化的珊瑚还能恢复:剩下的藻类可以重新生长,珊瑚礁恢复健康。但如果不能及时重返凉爽的气候,白化的珊瑚就会死亡。珊瑚的软组织会腐烂,白色的骨骼会覆盖着厚厚的棕色海藻和粘液般的污物。鱼、龟和其他动物都会消失,只留下这可怕的墓地永远枯萎下去。充满生机的生态系统成为了死气沉沉的荒地。

The first recorded bleaching took place in Florida in 1911, and again the strange phenomenon was observed in Australia in 1929. It was seen a handful of times for the next half century, until the 1980s when it began to occur with worrisome regularity. By 1990, scientists warned that bleaching was directly linked to climate change, and would only increase in scope and severity, possibly wiping out all reefs within decades. The warnings fell on deaf ears, and catastrophe has struck again and again, just as predicted.

第一次有记录的白化现象发生在1911年的佛罗里达州;1929年澳大利亚也发现了这种奇怪的现象。在接下来的半个世纪里,这种情况又出现了几次,直到80年代,开始有规律的出现,令人担忧。到1990年,科学家警告,白化现象与气候变化有直接关系,而且范围只会扩大,程度只会加剧,有可能几十年内所有的珊瑚礁都将消灭。这些警告没人理睬,灾难一次又一次发生,正如预测的那样。

Now half the world’s reefs are gone.

现在,世界上一半的珊瑚礁都消失了。

<STRONG>Human assisted evolution</STRONG>

<STRONG>人类辅助进化</STRONG>

While biologists can’t do much about greenhouse gas emissions, they can help the reefs that remain by applying the exact same strategies we have been using for thousands of years in agriculture and animal husbandry: identify hardy strains, selectively breed them in the lab, and fastidiously cultivate them in the wild.

虽然生物学家对温室气体排放做不了什么,但他们可以通过跟我们数千年来在农业和畜牧业中所使用的一模一样的策略,帮助仍然活着的珊瑚礁:找到适应力强的品种,在实验室进行选择性的培育,并放到野外进行严格培养。

It makes logical sense: if humans have been able to breed cows, corn, chickens and chocolate for high yields and disease resistance for millennia, why can’t we do the same for coral?

这在逻辑上是说得通的:如果人类几千年来能够培育高产、抗病的奶牛、玉米、鸡和巧克力,为什么不能对珊瑚做同样的事情?

“We simply need to understand what makes some corals thrive, see if that can be applied to other species, and try to develop corals that are bred to be one step ahead of climate change – this is just harnessing basic biology,” says Dr. Gates. “We are simply accelerating what nature can already do.”

盖茨博士说,"我们只需要了解是什么原因让某些类的珊瑚茁壮成长,看看是否可以应用于其他物种,并努力开发能够领先气候变化一步的珊瑚——这不过是在利用基础生物学,只是在加速大自然已经能够做到的事情。"

One of the most promising areas of research: cultivating strains of coral that are adapted to higher temperatures. At the simplest level this can be done by growing arrays of different species and strains in exceptionally warm tanks of water, identifying the ones that thrive, and then breeding those en masse to out-plant in the wild. “There’s absolutely no reason why this shouldn’t work – and I’ve been surprised at how easy it has been,” says Dr Gates.

最有希望取得成功的研究领域之一,是培养适应更高温度的珊瑚品种。最简单的做法,可以通过在异常温暖的水箱里培育不同的物种和品系来完成,确定哪些品种会茁壮生长,然后将它们集体繁殖,再出圃放到野外环境下自然生长。盖茨博士说:绝对没有不这么做的理由——而且我很惊讶,这是多么容易做到。

In 2015, she published a call-to-arms outline for how to breed such “thermally tolerant” corals in the journal PNAS, subsequently launching a five-year plan to aggressively pursue “human assisted evolution”, funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

2015年,她在《国家科学院学报》月刊上发表了一篇关于如何培育这种耐热珊瑚的行动宣言,随后启动了一项五年计划,在微软的联合创始人保罗·艾伦(Paul Allen)的资助下,积极推进人工辅助进化

<STRONG>Understanding how corals function</STRONG>

<STRONG>了解珊瑚</STRONG>

Breeding the right strains in warm water is just the first step. The next is to go even deeper into understanding the intricacies of coral physiology and working out how to harness this knowledge.

在温水中培育合适的品种只是第一步。接下来的,是深入了解珊瑚生理机能的复杂之处,并研究如何利用这些知识。

One key area: the microbiome, the enormous range of bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microorganisms that live within the tissues of coral and are integral to their survival. Research into the human microbiome – from the bacteria that live on the surface of our eyeballs to the fungi that dwell within our guts – has exploded in the past decade, and corals are no different than us in requiring an array of symbiotic microbes to survive. Dr Gates has just begun to scratch the surface on the communities of microbes that live within coral, which she described in the journal Trends in Microbiology last year.

一个关键的领域是微生物群系,也就是生活在珊瑚组织内的细菌、真菌、病毒和其他微生物,它们对珊瑚的生存是不可或缺的。对人体生物群系的研究(从生活在我们眼球表面的细菌,到生活在肠子里的真菌)在过去10年出现爆发性增长,珊瑚跟我们一样,也需要一系列共生微生物才能生存。盖茨博士刚刚开始研究生活在珊瑚里的微生物群落,她去年在《微生物趋势》杂志上发文对这项工作进行了描述。

Even more tantalising, she says, it might be possible to breed resilience into corals through “epigenetics”: heritable alterations to the ways genes are used, rather than changes to the genes themselves. In 2016, Dr Gates published in the journal Evolutionary Applications preliminary evidence that “DNA methylation” changes can be induced from environmental pressures and then passed onto the next generation.

她说,更诱人的是,有可能通过"表观遗传学"培养珊瑚的适应能力:即不改变该物种基因序列,但改变可遗传的基因表达方式。2016年,盖茨博士在《进化应用》杂志上发表了她的初步研究证据,证明“DNA甲基化的变化可以因环境压力诱发,然后传递给下一代。

“If you briefly expose the coral to something that stresses them out a bit but doesn’t kill them, you can build resilience into a species – and that adaptation can actually be passed down through generations,” she says. Early days yet, but cutting edge and promising.

她说,如果让珊瑚暴露于一些能给它们带来一点压力,但又不足以杀死它们的东西,你就能在一个物种中建立起适应力,而且这种适应力实际上是可以传给后代的。尽管这种研究还处在早期阶段,但非常前沿、很有希望。

“It’s thrilling to be in a field where you know the work you are doing has a purpose,” says Dr. Gates. “It’s that purpose that keeps me going: we are doing everything we can, and we are trying everything we can.”

盖茨博士说,从事有意义的工作真是让人兴奋。正是这个目标让我前进:我们正在竭尽所能地付诸努力,而且我们正在竭尽所能地尝试一切。

<STRONG>Simple techniques can save corals right now</STRONG>

<STRONG>简单的技术就能拯救珊瑚</STRONG>

But even without the cutting edge science, there are shockingly simple techniques we can already use to help save coral reefs right now. Dr Gates points to the work of Dr David Vaughan of the Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida who has been working on a technique called “microfragmentation”.

但是,即使没有处在前沿的科学,我们现在还是可以用一些简单到令人难以相信的技术来帮助拯救珊瑚礁。盖茨博士提到了佛罗里达莫特海洋研究所(Mote Marine Laboratory)的沃恩博士(Dr David Vaughan)的工作,他一直在研究一种名为微碎片化的技术。

Simply dividing a single piece of coral the size of a golf ball into 25 or even 100 smaller fragments dramatically increases the speed of growth – up to 40 times the normal rate, says Dr Vaughan.

沃恩博士说,只要简单地把高尔夫球大小的一块珊瑚分成25块甚至100块碎片,就能极大加快珊瑚的生长速度,达到正常速度的40倍。

The trick is to arrange those tiny pieces in a grid an inch or two apart – the distance they would grow during that period of accelerated growth. Because coral are clonal animals, microfragments will fuse together when their edges join, forming one single mass of coral.

诀窍就是,把这些小碎片排列成一两英寸宽的网格状——这是留给它们加速生长期的距离。由于珊瑚是无性系克隆繁殖动物,在边缘连接到一起时,小碎片就会融为一体,形成一大块珊瑚。

“Normally it would take a single larvae several years to grow into a piece the size of a golf ball, but if you take a piece of coral the size of a golf ball and cut it into 20 pieces, each the size of a pencil eraser, those each grow into a golf-ball sized chunk in a few months instead of a few years,” he explains. “If they fuse together, you can create a coral head the size of a basketball in just two years – when normally it would take around 75 years.”

他说,通常,一个珊瑚幼虫需要好几年的时间,才能长到一个高尔夫球大小,但如果拿一块高尔夫球大小的珊瑚,把它切成20块,每块铅笔擦大小,只要几个月而不是几年,每一个都能长大到高尔夫球大小。如果它们长到一起,两年的功夫就有一个篮球大小的珊瑚块——通常这样大小需要75年左右。

Dr Vaughan has not released data on the his coral farms he and his team have planted near Cancun in 2013 using this technique, but their paper is under review and should be published this year. “This restoration project should be one of the first classical success stories that will prove to the world that you can make a difference”.

2013年开始,沃恩博士和他的团队在墨西哥城市坎昆(Cancun)附近利用这项种植技术建立起珊瑚养殖场,有关数据还没有公开,但他们的论文正在评审中,应该今年发表。这个修复工程应该是最早一批向世界证明你可以扭转乾坤的成功故事之一。

What’s more, some of the elk horn coral (Acropora palmate) they raised in the lab and planted in the wild have grown to sexual maturity and spawned.

更令人鼓舞的是,他们在实验室中培育的一些鹿角珊瑚移植到自然海洋环境中后,已经进入性成熟并开始繁殖。

Not willing to leave things to chance, Dr Vaughan and his team have cross bred genotypes to produce new genetic combinations. There may be only 25 genotypes in the wild – but in Dr Vaughan’s lab they have created 5,000 new ones which they are testing with high temperature and high acidity (another consequence of high carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) to see which could flourish in our future climate.

沃恩博士和他的团队不愿意听其自然,他们还叉交培育生出新的基因组合品种。野生环境下,可能只有25种基因型,但沃恩博士的实验室培育出了5000种新的类型,他们正在用高温和高酸度(大气中二氧化碳含量过高的另一个后果)进行测试,看看哪些基因型能在未来的气候条件下兴旺发展。

<STRONG>Avoiding a coral 'potato famine'</STRONG>

<STRONG>避免土豆饥荒式灾难重演</STRONG>

Having a range of genotypes is crucial if the reefs of the future stand a chance of dealing with other threats: as the saying goes, nature abhors a monoculture.

如果未来的珊瑚礁有可能面对其他威胁,那么有一系列的基因型品种是至关重要的。常言道,自然厌恶单一文化。

“If we just propagate the same two or three strains of elk horn, we are just setting ourselves up for the next Irish potato famine – one disease could wipe out everything if they are all genetically identical,” says Dr Jennifer Koss, Deputy Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Conservation Program. “We need to make sure we have a diversity of species, and diversity within species, so future reefs will have tolerance not just to heat, but emerging pathogens.”

国家海洋和大气管理局珊瑚礁保护计划的副主任科斯博士(Dr Jennifer Koss)说,如果只是传播相同的两三个品种的鹿角珊瑚,我们将可能面临又一次的爱尔兰马铃薯饥荒——如果他们在基因上完全相同,一种疾病就能让它们全部完蛋。我们需要确保我们拥有多样性的物种,以及物种内部的多样性,这样未来的珊瑚礁不仅耐热,还能抵抗新出现的病原体。

For decades, scientists have predicted that climate change would lead to the rise of new epidemics as infectious agents are spread into new environments, and already a new coral disease is spreading through the Florida keys: a strange white plague. Biologists know almost nothing about it so far – they don’t even know if it is a virus, fungus, bacterium, or something else.

几十年来,科学家已经预测到气候变化会导致新流行病的出现,病菌的寄主会将瘟疫传播到到新的环境中,佛罗里达群岛已经出现了一种新的珊瑚疾病:一种奇怪的白色瘟疫。到目前为止,生物学家对其还一无所知——他们甚至不知道病原究竟是病毒、真菌、细菌还是什么别的东西。

“We are watching it and trying out different solutions, such as looking at embedding antibiotics into a paste – but at this moment we don’t even know if it’s one single disease or several moving together,” says Dr Koss. “All the global stressors are only getting worse, but on the bright side our growing techniques are pretty solid, including Dr Vaughan’s microfragmentation technique, which is a major step forward. Now we need to figure out how to scale up that technique and get the corals out onto reefs in configurations where they will reproduce on their own.”

科斯博士说,我们正在观察,正尝试不同的解决方案,例如将抗生素放到糊状物里——但目前来说,我们甚至不知道它究竟是一种疾病,还是几种疾病一起在捣乱。全球气候变化对珊瑚的压力只会越来越大,但从好的方面来说,我们不断发展的技术非常扎实,包括沃恩博士的微碎片技术,这是一个重大的飞跃。现在,我们需要弄清楚的是,如何把这种技术做大,让珊瑚在珊瑚礁上以自己的方式繁殖。

<STRONG>Physical restoration</STRONG>

<STRONG>物理修复</STRONG>

Which is why Frank Mars has been focusing his efforts on what he calls “the physical side” of coral restoration: the right configurations that allow them to take off on their own.

这就是为什么马尔斯(Frank Mars)一直致力于他所谓的珊瑚修复的物理方面:将珊瑚移植到对的地方,珊瑚就能自己生长繁殖。

“Most people are just so preoccupied with farming living coral and gluing them out onto reefs, they haven’t given any thought to what they are sticking them to,” he says. New coral plantations cannot be built where there was no reef before, such as on sand, he says. Nor can resilient coral be grown on floating nurseries at the ocean’s surface, as is being done around the world.

他说,大多数人都专注于养殖活珊瑚,将它们粘在珊瑚礁上,根本就没想过他们是把珊瑚粘在什么东西上面。新的珊瑚种植园不可能建在以前没有珊瑚礁的地方,比如沙滩。在海面漂浮的珊瑚苗圃,也不能长出适应性强的珊瑚,就像世界各地所做的那样。

Mars’s solution is deceptively simple: hexagonal steel structures, propped up on legs, dubbed “coral spiders”.

马尔斯的解决方案貌似简单:有腿支撑的六边形钢结架,被称为珊瑚蜘蛛

So far Mars’s Coral Reef Rehabilitation Project has installed over 8,600 spiders covering more than 8,000 square metres of ocean floor in Indonesia. By laying hundreds of these and linking them together on the sea floor, he says he can create not only the appropriate surface small corals can be attached to, but also create the appropriate three dimensional structures that will attract fish – crucial for maintaining the health of an entire reef.

到目前为止,马尔斯的珊瑚礁修复项目已经在印度尼西亚安装了8600多个珊瑚蜘蛛,覆盖了超过8000平方米的海底。他说,在海底铺设数百个这种蜘蛛钢架,并将它们连接起来,不仅可以建立出适宜的表面供小珊瑚吸附,也创造出合适的三维空间结构,吸引到鱼类,这对维持整个珊瑚礁的健康非常重要。

“The key to managing a reef is to manage the green algae that will naturally grow on the surface of the coral – and the key to that is maintaining populations of herbivorous fish that will eat the algae,” he says. “If you look at most coral gardens around the world, caretakers have to spend all their time scrubbing coral with toothbrushes because they haven’t built the right habitat for fish.”

他说,管理一个珊瑚礁的关键,是要管理好在珊瑚表面自然生长的绿藻——而其中的关键又在于维持食用藻类的草食性鱼种。如果你看看世界上大多数的珊瑚花园,会发现管理人员不得不花费大量时间用牙刷擦洗珊瑚,因为他们没有为鱼类建立适合的栖息地。

The difference with his steel spiders, says Mars, is that they create protective shells where smaller fish can hide from larger fish, enticing them to stay and kickstarting the regeneration of the entire ecosystem and its vast assemblages of species.

马尔斯说,他的蜘蛛型钢架不同之处在于,钢架为草食性鱼类创造出保护壳,供小鱼躲避大鱼,诱使它们留下来,从而能启动整个生态系统及其庞大物种组合的再生。

“You can actually see and hear the reef come to life year on year,” he says. “We actually see turtles, sharks, and tuna return – communities in the tropics can fish again on reefs that had been destroyed.”

他说,真的是每年都看到、听到珊瑚礁恢复健康的事情。我们真的是看到海龟、鲨鱼和金枪鱼回来了,热带海洋的渔民又可以在曾经遭到破坏的珊瑚礁捕鱼了。

Some think we should go even further than simply installing naked steel cages.

有些人认为我们应该更进一步,不止是简单地在海床上放置光秃秃的钢笼子。

By flowing low voltage direct current electricity into rebar structures, proponents of the Biorock technology say they can increase the rate that minerals are taken from sea water by growing coral, which they use to build their limestone skeletons.

生态岩石(Biorock)技术的支持者表示,通过将低压直流电输入钢筋结构,他们可以增加珊瑚生长时从海水中获取矿物质的速度,珊瑚要用矿物质来建造石灰石骨架。

Biorock structures were initially constructed in the 1970s by architect Wolf Hilbertz as a means to build complex, growing structures in the ocean; biologist Dr Tom Moreau adopted the technology to facilitate the growth of corals and other organisms that build shells and skeletons using minerals from sea water, such as oysters.

生态岩石结构最初是由建筑师希尔伯茨(Wolf Hilbertz)于20世纪70年代建造,作为在海洋中建造复杂的、会生长的生态结构的手段。生物学家莫罗博士(Dr Tom Moreau)采用这种技术来促进珊瑚和其他生物的生长,它们利用海水中的矿物质建造贝壳和骨骼,比如牡蛎。

“With our method, the electrical field stimulates biochemical metabolism: the production of ATP, the fundamental energy of life,” says Goreau. “This makes a spectacular difference.”

莫罗说,采用我们的方法,即电场刺激生化代谢:产生ATP(三磷酸腺苷),这是生命的基本能量,这带来了巨大的差异。

Rates of growth vary from species to location, but a 2014 study published in the journal Natural Resources, reviewing all the Biorock structures built since 1976, asserts that on average corals grow about 3-4 times faster with a gentle electric current. In times of catastrophe, such as after bleaching or a hurricane, Dr Moreau say corals grown on Biorock have survival rates far higher. Following the 1998 bleaching crisis in the Maldives for example, he says corals on Biorock structures had survival rates 16 to 50 times higher than on surrounding reefs.

珊瑚生长速度因物种和地点而异,但2014年发表在《自然资源》杂志上的一项研究回顾了自1976年以来建造的所有生态岩石结构,指出在温和的电流作用下,珊瑚的生长速度比平均情况要快三四倍。莫罗博士说,在灾难发生时,比如在白化和飓风过后,在生态岩石上生长的珊瑚的存活率要高得多。例如,1998年马尔代夫的白化危机过后,生态岩石上的珊瑚存活率是周围珊瑚礁的1650倍。

Even more impressive, says Goreau, is the rate of “settlement” on Biorock: the appearance of brand new coral colonies from free-floating larvae that attach onto the metal structures without human intervention. Larvae settle onto electrically charged Biorock at a rate almost 26 times higher than uncharged metal.

莫罗说,令人印象更为深刻的,是在生态岩石上的定居速度:无需人为干预,随波逐流的珊瑚幼虫附着在金属结构上,形成全新的珊瑚群落。幼虫附着在带电的生态岩石上的速度几乎是不带电金属的26倍。

Electricity on Biorock constructions – now numbering close to 500 worldwide, 400 in Indonesia alone – is typically delivered by mains electricity from the grid, but solar panels obviously provide a better solution. “The dream is to supply power with marine turbines,” says Delphine Robbe, who has worked for Biorock for 15 years in Indonesia, and fully believes in the technology. “It creates a bubble of survival in times of stress.”

充电的生态岩石在全球的数量接近500个,其中仅印度尼西亚就有400个,所使用的电,一半是来自电网供电,但太阳能电池板显然是一个更好的解决方案。在印尼为生态岩石工作了15年,完全相信这项技术年的罗布(Delphine Robbe)说,最理想是用海潮涡轮机发电。生态岩石在压力时期创造出一个生存泡沫。

However not everyone is convinced that low voltage electricity, cables, solar panels, wave turbines, infrastructure and maintenance, are necessary to regenerate a reef. Some have suggested Biorock technology works for the same reason Frank Mars’s spiders work: by creating three dimensional structures that crate habitats for fish and foster the growth of the whole ecosystem.

不过,并不是每个人都相信低压电、电缆、太阳能电池板、波浪涡轮机、钢架设施和维护对于重建珊瑚礁的必要性。一些人认为,生态岩石技术的工作原理与马尔斯的蜘蛛工作原理相同:通过建立三维结构,为鱼类提供栖息地,促进整个生态系统的成长。

However everyone is in agreement with Goreau about two things:

然而,有两件事每个人都会同意莫罗之说:

One: “We reached the tipping point for coral bleaching in the 1980s – now we have lost 30 years when something should have been done,” he says.

第一:他说,我们在20世纪80年代达到了珊瑚白化的临界点——现在我们已经失去了30年的时间,本来我们在那个时候应该做点什么的。

And, two: “There’s just no money for this – we have had to operate for 30 years without funding.”

第二,这是没有钱的——我们在没有资金的情况下做了30年。

<STRONG>Funding the reef</STRONG>

<STRONG>资助珊瑚礁重建</STRONG>

The lack of money devoted to research, restore and preserve coral reefs is possibly the most perverse aspect to the entire tragedy. Unlike cutting down the Amazon rainforest or blowing the tops off mountains to mine for coal, humans did not intend to destroy the world’s coral reefs. But we have known for 30 years that they are vanishing before our eyes, and have done close to nothing to save them – not even taking appropriate measures to improve water quality. Even if water temperatures fall after a bleaching event, corals in polluted areas struggle to recover – such as the Caribbean coral ecosystem, which has been almost entirely annihilated.

缺乏用于研究、恢复和保护珊瑚礁的资金,可能是整起悲剧当中最不正常的地方。不同于砍伐亚马孙河的热带雨林或者炸毁山顶采煤,人类不是有意要破坏世界上的珊瑚礁。但30年来,我们知道珊瑚就在我们眼前消失,却几乎没有采取任何行动来拯救它们——甚至没有采取适当措施来改善水质。就算是白化过后水温下降,受污染地区的珊瑚也难以恢复,比如加勒比海的珊瑚生态系统,几乎遭到灭顶之灾。

“The ultimate challenge is who is going to fund the rebuilding of the reefs?” asks Frank Mars – a member of the Mars family (as in the chocolate), the third richest family in America. “I have had the budget and the freedom to experiment with different approaches and work on this problem for 15 years. But philanthropy alone cannot solve this problem.”

马尔斯问道,最终的挑战是,谁将为珊瑚礁的重建提供资金?他来自美国第三富有的马尔斯家族(生产M&M巧克力)。我一直付出财力和自由尝试各种方法,我在这个问题上已经投入了15年的精力。但仅仅靠慈善,是无法解决这个问题的。

Dr Gates in Hawaii agrees. “For years I had to stagger on without funds – federal agencies were never keen to fund coral research, either because they didn’t understand the importance of it, or because they were never big on funding cutting edge science where the outcome is unknown. Fortunately, philanthropists have stepped in,” says Dr Gates, whose work is funded by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. “But we urgently need more money – no two reefs in the world are the same, so we have to try a lot of things in a lot of different places – and that’s just not possible without the funds.”

夏威夷的盖茨博士赞同这个观点。多年来,缺乏资金令我捉襟见肘——联邦机构从来都不热衷于资助珊瑚研究,这既是因为他们根本不了解其重要性,也是因为他们从来都不热衷于资助前沿科学,因为成果是未知的。盖茨博士说,幸运的是,慈善家们介入进来,微软的联合创始人保罗·艾伦为她的研究提供了资金,但我们迫切需要更多的资金——世界上没有两个完全一样的珊瑚礁,所以我们必须在很多不同的地方尝试许多事情,如果没有资金,这是不可能实现的。

The lack of any international effort to fund coral preservation does not make for cheerful reading, but a ray of hope can be found in the price tag of coral preservation: all signs indicate it would be astonishingly cheap.

国际社会缺乏为保护珊瑚提供资金的努力,自然不是什么令人高兴的消息,但从保护珊瑚的价格上倒是可以看到一线希望,因为所有的事实都表明,保护珊瑚的价格便宜得惊人。

“People have talked about ‘billions’ of dollars, but I think that’s a fancy number. Literally for $1m or $2m I could take elk horn coral off the endangered species list in Florida within just a few years,” says Dave Vaughan, who believes his simple microfragmentation technique is ready to change the world.

沃恩说,人们谈到需要数十亿美元,但我认为没那么夸张。只要一两百万美元,我就能在几年内,把鹿角珊瑚从佛罗里达州的濒危物种名单上移除。他相信他简单的微碎片技术已经做好了改变世界的准备。

“How many organisms can you say that for? Not many. If somebody asked me if I could take the polar bear off the endangered species list for $100m, I would have to say no, I can’t do it. But a species of coral? I’d say $10m, tops - and I can do it in two years.”

你能对多少生物说出这样的数字?不是很多。如果有人问我,能不能用1亿美元把北极熊从濒危物种名单上拿下来,我会拒绝,我做不到。但一种珊瑚呢?我会说1000万美元,至多——而且我能在两年内做到。

The question clearly is not if we can save the coral reefs, but if we choose to.

问题显然不是我们能否拯救珊瑚礁,而是我们是否愿意作出这样的选择。


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