This Week on Earth: April 17 - 24
By Jamie Schmid and Jamie Leventhal
Paris Agreement Signed, But Is It Too Late?
On April 22, also known as Earth Day, leaders from 175 countries finally signed the Paris climate deal. While the Paris treaty was initially approved in December after the COP21 climate conference, this past Friday marked the actual signing of the agreed upon document.
According to the Associated Press, Friday’s signing set a record for the most signatures on the first day of a climate deal. The deal includes measures such as a cap to keep the world temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius, a continual reduction on any and all reliance on greenhouse gases, and an increase in financial support for underdeveloped countries.
As great as these measures sound, it is important to note that the agreement is non-binding - it did not set official emissions limits for individual countries. Additionally, many experts agree that the 2 degree rise in temperature is already too much.
These negative points aside, the signing of the Paris Agreement is another measure to keep climate change in the forefront of people’s minds.
Bye, Bye Finding Nemo: The End of Coral Reefs
According to a recent aerial study of the Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, over 90% of the coral is suffering from coral bleaching.
When oceanic water temperature is too warm, it causes coral to release the algae that lives outside its issues. Losing this healthy and life-sustaining algae causes the coral to turn completely white, hence the term “bleaching.”
While scientists knew that coral bleaching was a problem, they did not expect bleaching levels to be this severe. If this bleaching rate continues, we might need to say goodbye to our friends from Finding Nemo.
Losing the beautiful Great Barrier Reef is a great devastation in itself, but this area of coral contributes a lot of money to Australia’s economy. According to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, it generates $4.45 billion dollars in tourism and creates over 70,000 jobs.
Hopefully, this high level of bleaching will serve a wake up call to citizens and scientists alike. Yes, coral bleaching is happening. Yes, the Great Barrier Reef may go extinct. And yes, we need to do something about it, like decreasing sea temperatures by cutting back on carbon emissions.
New Amazonian Coral Reef Discovered
While many scientists are concerned over the massive bleaching in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, researchers this week found a massive coral reef thriving at the mouth of the Amazon River.
Brazilian and American scientists discovered a reef system spanning 3,600 square miles along the coast of French Guiana and Brazil, according to CNN. This comes as a surprise to many, as scientists previously believed that rivers created unfavorable environments for coral reefs because of levels of salinity, pH and light penetration.
A report released about this uncovered reef recorded 73 species of fish live in these waters, many of which are carnivorous. Although this discovery is exciting for the scientific community, researchers have already noticed signs of deterioration in the reef due to warmer ocean temperatures.
Savage Beast Cleans Human
A man from Texas received the luckiest bath of his lifetime when an escaped tiger became friendly and licked the man on the face.
According to CNN, the tiger had been moved from a rescue farm near Houston to another facility because of intense flooding. However, the temporary facility was not able to properly contain the animal and it was able to escape into the Texan suburbs. Jonathan Gessner spotted the tiger from his car and attempted to catch it. The tiger knelt into a pouncing position and looked as though it were about to attack, but surprisingly it jumped on Gessner and licked his face.
The tiger was later captured by local authorities, but it has not been relocated to its original owner yet.
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