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May 3, 2016 Comments (0) All Other Stories, News, Weekly News Update

This Week on Earth: April 25 – May 2

By Jamie Leventhal and Jamie Schmid

Hotter temperatures are killing the oceans

World_map_showing_surface_temperature_trends_between_1950_and_2014

Last week, we talked a lot about how higher ocean temperatures are killing off many coral reefs. However, scientist have recently discovered that these higher temperatures are significantly lowering oxygen levels across entire oceans.

According to a recent study, deoxgenation, or when dissolved oxygen escapes water, will be a widespread problem by 2030. This will play a major role in ocean ecosystems, as fish, plants and microorganisms will struggle to survive in waters with less oxygen. Furthermore, warmer surface waters will be less dense and therefore less able to mix with cooler, deep ocean waters. This means that the lower levels of the ocean will also experience an oxygen drought.

Warmer ocean temperatures hit ocean life in two ways: creatures will be starved of oxygen from deoxgenation, but additionally warmer waters cause organisms to need more oxygen. In other words, demand goes up but supply goes down.

This latest scientific development means that fishing could drastically change over the next few decades.

To learn more, check out this article from the Washington Post.

Everglades is losing green

The Washington Post reported this week that about 40,000 acres of seagrass in the Everglades in Florida have died since mid-2015.

Everglades water way on a rainy afternoon

This concerns many scientists, as this represents part of a serious environmental breakdown of a very fragile ecosystem. Seagrass provides habitats for dolphins, sea turtles, shrimp, lobsters, manatees, and many other creatures. Scientists believe that this is most likely from a lack of fresh water due to construction. It also occurs when higher temperatures and drought lead to heavy amounts of evaporation in the area, leaving the rest of the water with increased salt levels. Once the seagrass dies, it releases nutrients into the water, which creates a growth spurt of algae that clouds the water and kills off other plants. This further harms the ecosystem.

The loss of this seagrass is tragic, but it’s also a warning sign for future environmental damage to the Everglades.

Babcock Ranch: The most sustainable U.S. city?

Don’t let the funny name fool you. This Florida town plans to be the greenest town in the country.

Babcock Ranch is a large residential development – with plans to build almost 19,000 homes. Although we usually think of developments as large, costly, and dirty businesses, Babcock wants to play it differently.

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The Ranch’s developers say they are equipping the town with solar panels, clean driverless vehicles, and energy efficiency. Will the ranch steal Disneyland’s slogan and become the “greenest” place on earth. Maybe and maybe not.

Around 443 acres will be filled with solar panels to provide energy to the 1,100 homes being completed next year. But, only time will tell if this expensive clean technology can be made up for in profits from selling the residencies. With such clean technology come hefty price tags for citizens.

Burning away the ivory trade

Kenya will burn over $100 million dollars of ivory in an effort to stop the illegal ivory trade. This amount of money translates to over 100 tons of ivory being burned.

Elephant and rhino tusks made up this stockpile, as well as other exotic animal skins and parts. Kenyan first burned ivory in 1989, but why do they do it in the first place?

Ivory_burn_in_Brazzaville,_Republic_of_Congo

Environmental leaders hope that the burning of ivory will show poachers, and countries with high-poaching markets, that this kind of action will not be tolerated. With animals like the elephant moving closer and closer to extinction, it is imperative that countries like Kenya start to send a strong message.

This will be one of the largest ivory burns in Kenya’s history, and hopefully it will be one of the last.

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