Category Archives: climate

Scenes from DC #MarchforScience

‘Holokauston’ of the Sea

The ocean is being burned alive. We might be next.

(I wish this were a joke. I just can’t find any humor in it.)

Ocean warming is killing the greatest places on Earth for life: the coral reefs. This slow warming during the past century has reached its tipping point, and we can now predict with clarity that an entire ecosystem is dying before our eyes.

As the scientist in this PBS report says, we could lose our reefs within 10 years. Predictions like this used to give us 100 years or so to save them, and that timeframe seems manageable, as if the next generation could solve this dilemma with ingenuity. But time is shrinking, and we might need to start thinking about living in a post-reef world—if we can live at all.

Humans have never existed without reefs, and we have no reference point for losing them. We have caused extinctions of singular species, but we’ve never come close to the extinction of an entire ecosystem. It is quite logical to assume that as the ocean and its shallow reefs go, so go we. An indirect, yet self-inflicted Holocaust.

The Greek word Holokauston refers to a burnt animal sacrifice. The slow burning of the reefs has the potential to sacrifice hundreds of coral species, thousands of fish species, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of associated species. We simply do not know the full scope of diversity on the world’s reefs, but they are estimated to contain a quarter of all species in the ocean.

How can such a rich system be dying? It’s inconceivalbe. Yet we know it is happening, we know why, and we know how to stop it.

It’s bloody murder.

Every thinking, breathing person needs to take a moment to decide: Do I care about people who will be alive within 10 years? If so, you must start caring, and caring deeply, about the ocean.

Any person with a heart and a brain will be outraged. You will go into the streets, get mad as hell, and get rid of any politician or business that is tone deaf on issues of climate change, global warming, and fossil fuel pollution. A climate denier, or a convenient “skeptic” who knows better, will be judged by history as complicit in murder.

I’m still not laughing.

With time running out, we probably have about 1 year left to turn this ship around. Even if you’re not convinced about the timing, is it worth the risk? Do you want to look back in a few years and judge yourself, and the human race, a complete failure?

You’ve got 2 marches on Saturdays to join this month.

Stand up for justice. The Holokauston of the Sea can, and must, be stopped.

 

 

 

 

 

Oscar Prediction for “Chasing Coral”

Now that we know this year’s winner of the best documentary film, O.J.: Made in America, here’s a prediction about next year’s winner. It will be Chasing Coral.

The new film follows scientists and photographers who are attempting to show the world what’s happening underwater. It’s exceptionally timely and provocative, because coral reefs are experiencing the worst bleaching and death-spiral ever witnessed.

Already a crowd pleaser at its premiere at Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival, this film follows in the footstep’s of the Oscar-nominated film, Chasing Ice, about climate change’s stunning visuals in frigid Greenland. The director Jeff Orlowski has now turned his attention to the biggest tropical, biological victim of a warming planet: shallow reefs built by coral animals.

The film has been purchased by Netflix, and I can’t wait to see it. It features a special camera, used by the XL Catlin Seaview Survey, to show reefs in 360 degree technicolor. These images allow us to see reefs across the planet like never before.

Critic site RogerEbert.com calls it a “landmark film,” and I’m betting that it’s pure Oscar gold.

 

 

Newest Climate Threat: The Ocean is Losing Oxygen

Image by NASA

Image by NASA

Shall we call this the “climate threat of the day?” With new evidence arriving daily of alarming trends and discoveries of previously unconfirmed effects from a changing climate, and a more broadly changing planet, it can be hard to keep up. Someone needs to publish a daily calendar with a fill-in-the-blank statement: “The thing that scares me the most today about planetary change is ____________________.”

For example:

The thing that scares me the most today about planetary change is ocean deoxygenation.

What is that? In essence, science has proven, just this week, that the global ocean has less oxygen today than in recent decades. The loss is greater than 2%, according to a new article in Nature by lead author Sunke Schmidtko. The trend has been predicted and demonstrated on local scales, but this composite study is the first to quantify it on a global scale.

The ocean is slowly suffocating, due to changes caused by us. If that much harm could happen within 50 years, I shudder to think what could happen within 500 years.

Wikipedia will need to update its definition of ocean deoxygenation, because it’s now an established observation, instead of a suggestion. [We also have a more immediate need of a sad Planet Ocean emoji. Here’s my sideways text-only version  (:<)  ]

Read more about this study in a Washington Post article by Chris Mooney that states: “The new study underscores once again that some of the most profound consequences of climate change are occurring in the oceans, rather than on land.”

Does environment have a prayer, at inauguration?

Religious leaders are pleading for president-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration to include prayers for the Earth. Five prominent clergy sent the letter last Friday, one week before this Friday’s event, to invited spiritual speakers, as reported by Greenwire.

“We are collectively concerned about what we can expect for the quality of air and water, and the protection of our precious public lands,” state the multi-denominational letter. It references Pope Francis’s environmental tome, Laudato Si’, and Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical relief agency led by Rev. Franklin Graham, who is also President and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

The letter is addressed to four of the six tapped to pray at the inauguration:

  • Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York
  • Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center
  • Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
  • Rev. Franklin Graham

The letter asks them to “say a few words that would encourage the President and his team to make clean air and water, a safe climate for future generations, and protected public lands a top priority.”

It is unclear why the letter was not addressed to the other two invited televangelists who both preach a prosperity gospel: Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of Detroit and Pastor Paula White of greater Orlando, who is called Trump’s personal minister.

Prayers have been a tradition at U.S. presidential inaugurations since 1937. Rev. Billy Graham, 98, presided at inaugurations for Presidents Nixon, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. His son Rev. Franklin Graham, 64, prayed for George W. Bush in 2001 and will return Friday for Donald Trump.

Monday's mood at the National Cathedral was decidedly anti-Trump.

Monday’s mood at the National Cathedral was decidedly anti-Trump.

The choir of the Washington National Cathedral will perform at the inauguration, and on Saturday it will host an interfaith prayer service for the new president. At Monday’s memorial service for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Cathedral hosted an event where speakers openly challenged the incoming president.

The tradition of a church service before the inaugural ceremony will continue. The Washington Post reports: “Trump, who identifies as a Presbyterian, plans to follow tradition and attend a private family church service at St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House the morning of the inauguration.”

Letter from an Octopus

Attentive Readers of Earth,

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This octopus crawled across a parking garage floor in Miami Beach. Really.

Greetings from Inner Space! We’re so glad that you agree with us that the ocean is too small. With your help, we’re planning a mass migration into your parking lots and condominiums. Thanks for thinking of us!

We’re already sending our eight-legged real estate agents into your coastal cities to assess their value. We’re not too impressed yet, but there is potential. You know, the kind of potential that says “just add water.”

By the way, we’re smarter than you. But you knew that already.

You know, we used to live in your neighborhoods—all the way into Kansas and beyond. But when we weren’t paying attention, the Earth’s temperature dropped, the ice formed, and too much dry land appeared. Bummer.

Now you’re helping the planet get back to the way things were—you know, warm, dinosaur-friendly temperatures. We’re with you, and we pledge allegiance to the United States of Fossil Fools. We love to clap our suckers together and cheer, “Drill, baby, drill!”

We can’t wait to see what the next decade brings. Your flood is our gain!

Florida’s Wealthy Fishing Community Ready to Pay It Forward for Environment, According to Rare Study on Seafood and Climate Change

Miami—The legendary wisdom of anglers is changing with the times, according to groundbreaking new research published Thursday in the Journal of Marine Science and Engineering. The first study to use personal seafood budgets to reveal environmental orientation shows that South Florida’s recreational fishers have a newfound recognition of climate change and a strong will to open their wallets for high quality seafood.

Old timers remain stingier than newer generations, reveals researcher James W. Harper, who surveyed a selection of Florida’s more than one million registered marine fishers for the the scientific article The New Man and the Sea. But one of the study’s biggest surprises is that poorer people are not stingy when it comes to paying more for sustainable seafood. The online survey found middle to lower class households were just as willing as upper classes to pay a few dollars extra to purchase fish with a sustainability label on it. These residents living near the Florida Reef especially want local seafood, because 80 percent were in favor of higher costs to guarantee seafood caught nearby.

Registered anglers are very wealthy, as they reported income twice as high as the average Floridian. The study’s survey was limited to five counties in southeastern Florida, including the Florida Keys of Monroe County, and the majority of participants owned a boat, went fishing and scuba diving, and expressed high concern about climate change damaging Florida’s coral reefs, a new finding for this community.

The study finds that greater concern about climate change inspires greater spending on sustainable seafood. But Florida’s large community born abroad is not inspired to spend more for seafood from Florida.

More than 90 percent of Florida’s seafood is imported, and imports are the norm across the Caribbean. Commercial fishing in Florida has been shrinking while the recreational boating and fishing industries have grown steadily for decades. New research is finding that recreational fishing has an equal or greater impact on coastal ecosystems as commercial fishing, even though recreational fishing has no federal regulation. Florida’s recreational fishing sector is more than twice as large as the next closest state. But little scientific research has illuminated how this community thinks and acts for the environment it uses.

The open access scientific article is available for free online at: http://www.mdpi.com/2077-1312/3/2/299/html

For more information, contact the author at:

James (Jim) W. Harper

jharp002@fiu.edu

786-423-2665