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Great Barrier Reef Has Worst Coral Die-Off Ever, Report Finds (usatoday.com) 235

Australia's Great Barrier Reef has suffered from its worst coral die-off ever recorded, according to a new study from the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies based at James Cook University. "Stress from the unusually warm ocean water heated by man-made climate change and the natural El Nino climate pattern caused the die-off," reports USA Today. At more than 1,400 miles long, Australia's Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef and the planet's biggest structure made by living organisms. In the northernmost section of the reef, which had been considered the most "pristine," some 67% of the coral died. The good news, scientists said, was that central and southern sections of the reef fared far better, with "only" 6% and 1% of the coral dead, respectively. Coral reefs result from the work of little polyps, creatures only a few millimeters long, budded on top of one another. Over centuries, the shells of these creatures combine to form the exotic shapes of coral reefs. Tiny differences in the anatomy of each polyp species affect the shape of their shells and produce the exotic shapes of each reef. The vibrant colors that draw thousands of tourists to the Great Barrier Reef each year come from algae that live in the corals tissue. When water temperatures become too high, coral becomes stressed and expels the algae, which leave the coral a bleached white color. Mass coral bleaching is a new phenomenon and was never observed before the 1980s as global warming ramped up. Besides their beauty, reefs shelter land from storms, and are also a habitat for myriads of species.
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Great Barrier Reef Has Worst Coral Die-Off Ever, Report Finds

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 28, 2016 @10:54PM (#53382461)

    The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

    - Donald Trump

    https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/265895292191248385

    • The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

      - Donald Trump

      https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/265895292191248385

      That's been taken out of context.

      The context is that Trump doesn't have any idea of what's going to come out of his mouth before he opens it.

      • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

        It's a fucking Twitter post; there is no context. That's a problem with using it as a platform to try to articulate political positions. It's shallow, like our political discourse these days.

  • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Monday November 28, 2016 @11:07PM (#53382507)

    ... what does the Trump administration have to say about it?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We'll build a barrier, and it'll be huge

    • Not sure which one (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The current team don't have anyone for environment I think. Nearest swamp thing is probably "Michal Catazaro, energy lobbyist whose clients include American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, Hess, Devon Energy, and Encana Oil and Gas" in charge of "Energy Independence".

      On his opinion, the nearest I can find is this:
      http://www.nationalcenter.org/Climate-Gate.html

      "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Something uninteresting.

  • Just my anecdotal experiences of diving 10 times, reefs were always more grey than historical pictures of the area. I try to consider myself logical, but I've always had an unfulfilled feeling when diving, and then unnerved when I see this kind of evidence of the cause. Diving is like being let in as a guest to a powerfully beautiful host called nature. It feels like my co-partiers are tearing up the place, and it doesn't feel good. I hope that enough people go diving and experience this.
    • unlikely (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Monday November 28, 2016 @11:47PM (#53382643)
      diving is a really, really expensive thing to go do. That's sorta the problem. The rust belters in America who just voted for Trump (or who didn't vote Hilary because they couldn't bring themselves to) really don't care about coral reefs. They care about next month's rent. Until you can fix their economy you're not going to get anyone to care. The environment doesn't really matter to somebody taking out their second payday loan...
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Their kids will care, and will ask those Rust Belters "Why did you allow some fucking moron to screw things up, just because you didn't want to switch careers?"

        • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

          Their kids will care, and will ask those Rust Belters "Why did you allow some fucking moron to screw things up, just because you didn't want to switch careers?"

          Sorry, they tried to switch careers. Then their job was outsourced to a H1B and imported labor.

        • Re:unlikely (Score:5, Insightful)

          by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2016 @01:08AM (#53382857)

          It's not just rust belters, a common saying among red party boaters in Florida is that we should find a really great specimen of a Manatee, shoot it, stuff it, put it in a museum, and then get rid of all the god damned speed limits for boats in coastal manatee habitat, because f- these giant cow things that have been here for millions of years, I've got twin 250s on my new open fisherman and I damn well want to open the throttle straight out of the marina instead of putzing out to open water before I can throw a wake.

          Yeah, boomers don't give a shit what the place will look like when they're gone.

          • And in 50 to 200 years, you can grow as many manatee as you want in jars and dump a million into the ocean.

            These are only problems from a static viewpoint. A hundred years from now is less predictable than now is from 1900, when a lack of filthy cars meant waking up every morning with a layer of clean, organic, natural horse shit dust on your furniture.

            • a lack of filthy cars meant waking up every morning with a layer of clean, organic, natural horse shit dust on your furniture.

              You paint the picture with words so vividly.

            • You believe the shit they show on CSI, too, don't you? Can you enhance that image of the future for me?

              Yes, the next 100 years _should_ result in greater progress than the last 100, if we don't backslide into some stagnant pool of true conservatism. The thing about future progress is: it's unpredictable. Dolly the sheep was "cloned" (depending on what you accept as a definition of cloning) in 1996. 20 years later we've made tremendous progress in genome sequencing, gene splicing, identification of genet

              • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

                Nobody really knows, but practical, full capability cloning seems to be sharing the "progress" list with cold fusion and artificial intelligence, always at least 5 to 10 years away from serious application.

                Because it doesn't seem financially viable. Ok, so... you cloned Dolly. So what? What will it actually GET you? Cloning a creature is an order of magnitude more expensive than naturally birthing one from two parents, so the question is.. why would we want to? Why would we care?

                It's the difference between theoretical science and applied science. The theoretical science part has certainly leaped ahead of applied science, which has somewhat shrugged because we don't see the benefits to cloning yet. Everything

                • Cloning dolly is many orders of magnitude easier than cloning a wooly mammoth, or sabre tooth tiger - even when cost is no object.

            • And, about the horse shit dust - not everybody could afford a horse, far less per capita than actually own and drive cars in the US today. And, all in all, I'd much rather raise my children in a house covered in horse shit dust than coal-borne mercury ash, diesel soot, PCBs, and all the other hallmarks of "modern progress."

            • A hundred years from now is less predictable than now is from 1900

              Indeed, few people in 1900 would have thought they'd live to see the horrors of Two World Wars.

              Things have improved since 1945 in many ways, but there is no guarantee that many people will see the other side of WW3.

        • They'll tell them the same thing our grandparent generation told us when we asked them about Hitler: We were hungry, we were out of a job, and there was someone who offered both. When you're hungry and freezing, you don't give a shit about whether someone else gets a problem.

          Some might sugar coat it to feel better about themselves, but that's the naked truth.

          • +100 Insightful.
        • Let's see how much career changing bravado you have after taking on a mortgage and a couple of kids.

          Getting career advice from a bean-bag sitting, overpriced latte-sipping millennial is like getting sex advice from the Vatican.

      • Depends on where you start from, a couple of college kids in Miami could afford to go SCUBA diving on weekends for about the same money other college kids would blow on booze at the strip in Ft. Lauderdale (in the 1980s).

        These days, video programs and documentaries make the world's oceans more accessible to the rust belt, grain belt, bible belt, and every other belt you can name than ever before. The presentations tend to be a bit biased, and it's nothing like being there in person, but if we all went in p

      • by Xest ( 935314 )

        Of course expensive is always going to be relative, but I don't think this is necessarily true. I wouldn't for example say that it's more expensive than something like skiing, or snowboarding, or having a hobby such as playing with motorbikes, or hotrods. I think most people could afford to dive, if they wanted to, but beyond that I think you're right - it's just not on most people's radar.

        I understand there has actually been a decrease in people diving in recent years, so I think there is probably some inc

      • Re:unlikely (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ogive17 ( 691899 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2016 @08:06AM (#53383965)
        I'm in the rust belt. The people who voted for Trump fall into 1 of 2 categories. 1 - educated but grew up Republican and have always voted for someone with an R next to their name. 2 - uneducated and unwilling to learn a new trade. Don't understand how much welfare they already receive but think it's unfair others also benefit from the government.

        Sometimes I feel like I'm in the twilight zone living in my rural town of 25k people. Per capita, we require far more government assistance due to the amount of roads/utilities/police and fire coverage because we're so damn spread out.. most people don't realize how many millions of dollars in state and federal grants (i.e. aid) we receive each year to keep our town looking nice.

        The one thing I'm proud of is that my town has always supported school tax levies as well as tax levies for the public library and the disability support program in the county.
    • Depends on where you dive - the reefs off Key Largo, Florida have been crappy since the 70s, at least compared to the ones further down in the Keys.

      The anecdotes from professionals who have been diving all over the world from virtually the first days of SCUBA match yours:

      https://www.mission-blue.org/ [mission-blue.org]

    • by Xest ( 935314 )

      I'll let you into a current diving secret, and you may find this news rather positive. Because of the current lack of tourism in Egypt due to terrorist attacks elsewhere in Africa on tourists, the Egyptian revolution and subsequent military crackdowns as a result of the coup, and the bombing of the Russian civilian airliner by ISIS or whoever decided to take responsibility the red sea reefs have made an astounding and profound recovery in just a couple of years.

      The sheer volume of life and quality of the re

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 29, 2016 @01:02AM (#53382841)

    Disclaimer: I'm a physicist at James Cook University, where this study was published. My mother used to work at AIMS 20 years ago, my sister works for CSIRO in marine research, and my cousin-in-law is currently the Coral Reef ARC's COO.

    These are results published by the Australian Research Council Centre for Coral Reef Studies. Prof. Terry Hughes, who runs this centre at JCU, has basically surrounding himself with like-minded people. The self-citation rate for articles published by the centre is remarkably high, and I quite frankly don't trust Prof. Hughes to do unbiased research, or to critically analyse his own work. There is a pretty strong monoculture of reef research, and I believe it's a pretty serious problem. One of my physics lecturers wrote a rebuttal [theaustralian.com.au] letter to Prof Hughes that was leaked to the press, and was disciplined for it (one more strike and he's fired). I would really like to see a little more diversity in the people that study this topic.

    That said, I have no reason to doubt the truth of this study. The die-off is real, and is unprecedented in modern times, and elementary physics tells us that increased temperatures due to climate change can only make it worse, not better. My mum's old boss from AIMS, Charlie Veron [wikipedia.org] said in a seminar 10 years ago that the reef is probably doomed, and that even if we manage to stop all CO2 today, there's enough inertia that very little of the reef will survive.

    • by e r ( 2847683 )
      1. Your link to the rebuttal [theaustralian.com.au] is behind a paywall.
      2. Are you saying that a scientist was disciplined for rebutting another scientist?!
      3. If the reef can't adapt then literally it deserves to die-- it's called evolution.

      We need to stop watching Fern Gully and end this "pristine nature" worship. It's not productive, it solves no problems, it's really nothing but facile virtue signalling based on the false premise that pristine nature is valuable and that the earth is somehow damaged just by the presence of
  • by Z80a ( 971949 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2016 @03:09AM (#53383073)

    Probably the "best" way to fix it is making the alive corals something profitable, like artificially raising the price of something that lives off it tremendously via marketing, de beers style.
    16ms later monsanto would come up with a heat resistant coral and profit off it.

  • Very worrying (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2016 @03:38AM (#53383139)

    Besides their beauty, reefs shelter land from storms, and are also a habitat for myriads of species.

    Coral reefs are not just beautiful, though; they constitute only perhaps a few % of the oceans' environment, but they support something like 25% or more of all life in the sea, so we really do need to protect them.

  • The planet is not coming back to old normal and we got to do what we have to do to mitigate the effects right?

  • So, to believe the post, if the coral is dying off because the water is getting too warm, it stands
    to reason that coral will start flourishing in areas that formerly had cold waters, but now the
    water is warming up enough to support coral growth.

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