Category Archives: alo

A new GOP carbon tax proposal is a long shot, but it’s a shot worth taking

There’s a very small chance that President Trump, later this year, could sign into law the country’s first-ever federal climate change legislation — and it might actually be a good thing.

I know, I know. I hear you. Yes, this is the same Trump who bailed on the Paris climate agreement last year. But there’s now a possibility that he could have the opportunity to meet its goals anyway.

According to E&E News, Florida congressman Carlos Curbelo — a Republican — will introduce legislation next week that calls for a gradually escalating carbon tax specifically designed to accelerate the decarbonization of the U.S. economy.

Starting in 2020, the proposal would require fossil fuel companies and manufacturers to pay a fee of $23 per ton for their carbon emissions, rising slightly faster than inflation. It’s a relatively low tax to start, but it could ramp up significantly over time. The fee would rise an additional $2 each year emissions targets aren’t met — a clever twist. Preliminary modeling shows that the policy would be sufficient to meet former President Obama’s climate target under the Paris Agreement — a 26 to 28 percent reduction in U.S. emissions by 2025, compared with 2005 levels.

There’s a catch, though. In exchange for the fee, the proposal would completely eliminate the gasoline tax and press pause on the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions (that’s in jeopardy anyway under the changing Supreme Court). It would also devote most of its revenue to building new transportation infrastructure nationwide. That it raises money at all is controversial — most Republicans in favor of a carbon tax want a completely revenue-neutral proposal.

In the midst of a tough reelection race in his Florida district, Curbelo (a member of the Grist 50) is bucking his own party by even proposing the legislation. It’s a long shot, but with the right mix of ideas, it just might work. Even if this specific bill doesn’t find its way to Trump’s desk, another one could, like the plan put forth by two Republican former Secretaries of State last year.

Almost 10 years after the last major attempt at climate legislation, the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, failed in Congress, there’s reason to believe that this time, Republicans will lead the way.

The vast amount of America’s renewable energy is now produced in Republican-voting districts, and recent polling shows that Republicans nationwide are more willing than ever to support a carbon tax — especially one that will boost the growth of innovative technologies and reduce the burden of uncertainty on businesses that deploy them.

And the renewable industry seems to think Republicans are its best shot. In the 2016 election cycle, the industry’s political donations went disproportionately to Republicans for the first time. So far in 2018, that financial gulf has widened, and now favors Republicans roughly 2-to-1. More and more, renewable energy is a bread-and-butter right-wing issue.

Still, passing climate legislation is a tall order for an administration led by someone who has said climate change is a hoax. And, this week, congressional Republicans planned a symbolic resolution against carbon taxes that could be divisive — 42 Republican members have joined Curbelo in a bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, and this vote would be the first chance for them to show real support. But now that Republicans control all three branches of government, it’s up to them to craft the next steps for environmental policy, for better or worse.

There are, of course, some serious flaws with Curbelo’s idea. In contrast to recent Democratic-led carbon pricing proposals, Curbelo’s bill is decidedly less aggressive. Taken as a standalone policy, replacing the gasoline tax with a carbon tax will do little to address transportation emissions, now the leading source of carbon pollution in the United States. To put the transportation sector’s emissions on a diet, there’d need to be accompanying incentives for electric vehicles and public transit.

That said, the final text of the bill has not yet been released, and these details could change.

Before you dismiss this GOP plan, remember the unyielding truth of climate change: We can’t wait for the perfect moment or the perfect piece of legislation. We have to do as much as we can, as soon as possible.

According to a report released this week, even a modest carbon tax would substantially improve the prospects for solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower — and may help spawn a next-generation nuclear renaissance.

The most effective ways to address climate change are big and complex: reversing the demise of tropical forests, reducing food waste, encouraging family planning, shifting away from coal and natural gas. A carbon tax really only addresses that last one. But the other efforts can move forward alongside the push for a carbon tax, as part of a broad-based, radical rethink of civilization at a critical moment in our history.

Curbelo is turning the debate away from the science and toward solutions, and that should be celebrated. Now, let’s hope the other party leaders follow his lead.

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A new GOP carbon tax proposal is a long shot, but it’s a shot worth taking

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How California can make its cap-and-trade program more equitable

Last week California celebrated a big milestone: The state announced it had succeeded in bringing down its carbon emissions to levels it hasn’t seen since the 1990s. And the Golden State managed to hit that benchmark four years earlier than it had set out to, all while laying to rest the tired old argument that an economy can’t grow while emissions shrink.

There is, however, a catch: Carbon emissions may have dropped statewide, but according to a study published in the journal PLOS Medicine, low-income and communities of color that border heavy industry are seeing greater amounts of greenhouse gases and other airborne pollutants. Further, the analysis validates criticism against one of the state’s most celebrated climate interventions: its cap-and-trade program.

Historically, proposed climate solutions have focused on addressing aggregate carbon dioxide numbers while ignoring localized impacts, says Amy Vanderwarker, senior policy strategist at the California Environmental Justice Alliance. And communities in closest proximity to greenhouse gas emitters have long argued that cap-and-trade has concentrated airborne contaminants on those who are most vulnerable to pollution.

“In many ways we have thought of the work that these research partners are doing as the ‘I Told You So Report,’” Vanderwarker says. “It’s academic and data- driven verification of the lived reality and experience and knowledge and wisdom of low income communities of color across the state.”

Unfair Trade

Through it’s cap-and-trade program, California sets a “cap” for the total amount of carbon that can be emitted by certain companies operating within the state. Companies can purchase or “trade” emission allowances with each other, allowing bigger polluters to essentially purchase the right to emit from state auctions or from other companies that aren’t sending out as much carbon and have allowances to sell. The danger of this system is that the companies that end up purchasing those allowances — and thus polluting more — tend to be located in “fence-line” communities, which are typically lower-income and inhabited predominantly by people of color.

The report shows a correlation between greenhouse gas emissions and the presence of other harmful pollutants, like particulate matter and volatile organic compounds, that have been linked to cancer, respiratory problems, and other health issues. (Grist board member Rachel Morello-Frosch is a study co-author.) Put simply, facilities are usually emitting more than just carbon: so when greenhouse emissions go up, so does the amount of other bad stuff in the air.

The new research confirms that facilities regulated by California’s cap-and-trade program are disproportionately located in “fence-line” communities: Neighborhoods within 2.5 miles of regulated facilities on average had a 34 percent higher proportion of residents of color and a 23 percent higher proportion of residents living in poverty than areas beyond that boundary. And more than half of these polluters actually increased the amount of greenhouse gases they released since the system started in 2013. Those facilities were surrounded by neighborhoods that had higher rates of poverty and more residents of color than those surrounding facilities that cut down their emissions .

“When it comes to climate change and to greenhouse gas emissions, place does matter,” Vanderwarker says. “When you look at what’s happening on the ground, you see a different picture than what a statewide analysis and statewide numbers show.”

Clean Air for All

So what is a well-meaning, climate-concerned state to do? In addition to pointing out California’s discrepancy in cap-and-trade pollution, the new study outlines potential solutions to make the program more equitable.

While cap-and-trade is designed to tackle climate change by reining in greenhouse gases statewide, it’s federal statutes, like the Clean Air Act, that regulate the quality of the air we breathe. One of the keys to improving California’s air overall, according to the study’s lead author Lara Cushing, is to quit thinking about measures designed to address climate change and those targeting air pollution separately.

“Having them harmonize those efforts instead of regulating them separately might help the state achieve both its climate and its equity goals,” Cushing says. “From a public health perspective, getting the biggest bang for your buck for the emissions reductions you’re undertaking means prioritizing emissions reductions from sources that also release a lot of health-damaging pollutants.”

Another obvious course of action is for California to significantly lower the cap and give out fewer allowances to companies. An initial glut of allowances may have made it too easy for companies to purchase additional permits to pollute.

Then there’s the issue of offsets — investments companies can buy in green projects, like forest-preservation efforts (since trees absorb carbon dioxide). Facilities regulated by the cap-and-trade program can use offsets to cancel out up to 8 percent of the emissions they’re allowed under California’s cap. The problem: A majority of these investments — 75 percent — have been made on out-of-state initiatives. Cushing’s research suggests that regulations incentivizing or requiring companies to put their money in local green projects could help alleviate the health impacts facing California’s fence-line communities.

The state is actually starting to do this: When it passed an expansion of the cap-and-trade system last year, the bill included a measure that reduces the amount of offset credits a company can purchase and requires half of those credits to go towards projects that benefit California.

The California Environmental Justice Alliance — which opposed the expansion of the cap-and-trade system approved last year — is now paying close attention to how the state moves forward with implementing the program. Vanderwarker wants trends in the amount of greenhouse gases and co-pollutants emitted in fence-line communities to be clearly tracked as part of cap-and-trade, and she argues there needs to be a plan in place to address any hot spots where air concentrations are increasing.

“We haven’t really seen any clarity on that plan from the California Air Resources Board,” she says.

What California does to address equity within its climate policies matters not only for vulnerable communities in California, but for those across the country — particularly as other places consider their own carbon-trading systems.

“California is a leader on climate change, and California can be proud of that,” Cushing says, “It’s important that we get it right and that we continue to study this program — and whether disadvantaged communities are seeing the full benefits of California’s carbon reduction efforts — so that we can continue to play that leadership role.”

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How California can make its cap-and-trade program more equitable

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Fastest Things on Wings – Terry Masear


Fastest Things on Wings
Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood
Terry Masear

Genre: Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: June 16, 2015

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Seller: OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC

A heartwarming memoir by “one of California’s hardest-working hummingbird rehabilitators . . .  will leave the average bird lover agog” ( The Washington Post ).   Before he collided with a limousine, Gabriel, an Anna’s hummingbird with a head and throat cloaked in iridescent magenta feathers, could spiral 130 feet in the air, dive 60 miles per hour in a courtship display, hover, and fly backward. When he arrived in rehab caked in road grime, he was so badly injured that he could barely perch. But Terry Masear, one of the busiest hummingbird rehabbers in the country, was determined to save this damaged bird, who seemed oddly familiar.    During the four months that Masear worked with Gabriel, she took in 160 other hummingbirds, from a miniature nestling rescued by a bulldog to a fledgling trapped inside a skydiving wind tunnel at Universal CityWalk, and Pepper, a female Anna’s injured on a film set.   During their time together, Pepper and Gabriel formed a special bond and, together, with Terry’s help, learned to fly again. Woven throughout Gabriel and Pepper’s stories are those of other colorful birds in a narrative filled with the science and magic surrounding these fascinating creatures. “This is a book about birds that is actually a book about love, and Masear does us a favor by risking heartbreak every day” ( Los Angeles Times ).   “I cannot believe what a gripping read this is.” —Robin Young, host of NPR’s Here and Now   “A book that will change forever the way you look at these little birds.” — Los Angeles Times   “This is a charming and lively summertime read, something for the patio or balcony, glass of iced tea at hand, a hummingbird or two zipping around the azaleas.” — Dallas Morning News   “I was riveted, charmed, delighted, devastated, profoundly moved, and taken to a magical place few people ever get to glimpse.” —Stacey O’Brien, author of  Wesley the Owl  


Fastest Things on Wings – Terry Masear

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Could This Be the Secret to Reef-Friendly Sunscreen?

Conventional sunscreens are having a detrimental impact on the environment and are a major culprit behind coral bleaching. Vast swaths of reef?including the majestic Great Barrier Reef?are turning bone white and dying, and certain chemicals in our sunscreen are partly at fault.

The chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, the FDA-approved active ingredients in most conventional sunscreens, are known to cause bleaching, deformities, DNA damage and death in thriving coral ecosystems. In fact, they are contributing to a great coral die-out. And our love of swimming in the ocean is the problem.

When you wear?sunscreen in the ocean, it?leaches into the water systems, where the chemicals have a havoc-wreaking half-life of about 2.5 years.

Even if you don?t visit coral reefs on a regular basis, the EWG confirms that these chemicals are also powerful endocrine disruptors that can throw hormone levels dangerously?out of whack. Unfortunately,?these chemicals can be detected in the bodies of almost all Americans?even in breast milk.

So what do we do? Is there a healthy sun solution that is safe for our bodies and the ocean? Well, the ocean may, in fact, hold the answer.

According to a study conducted by King?s College, London, a special compound in seaweed could protect our skin from sun damage without harming marine ecosystems.

Scientists extracted a mycosporine-like amino acid (MAA) from seaweed known as palythine. When testing on human skin cells, palythine was shown to block UV rays and protect the skin, even at very low concentrations. It also has powerful antioxidant activity, meaning it can actually protect the skin from cellular free radical damage and photo-aging.

And since it naturally comes from the ocean, it’s already ocean-safe.

“here are significant concerns that conventional sun protection products are having a negative impact on the environment,”?Professor Antony Young, senior author of the study, commented.?”Our data show that, with further research and development, marine derived sunscreens may be a possible solution that could have a significant positive impact on the health of our marine habitats and wildlife, whilst still providing the essential sun protection that human skin requires to guard against damage that causes diseases such as skin cancer.?

While seaweed-based sunscreens are unlikely to hit the market anytime in the immediate future, this research does bear promise for the development of a healthy, eco-friendly, natural sunscreen to replace the conventional disasters we are currently told to use.

In the meantime, look for non-nano-particle?mineral sunscreens with very simple formulations. Try hardy, natural surfer-developed sun pastes/cremes like Manda, or cover up with clothing during long bouts of intense sun exposure.

While you should definitely protect yourself from sunburns, the last thing you want to do at the beach is hurt yourself or the oceans.

Related on Care2

Why Endurance Runners Can Ignore Discomfort (and You Can, Too)
This New Wearable Tech Helps You Avoid Sunburns
Is Your Smartphone Prematurely Aging Your Skin?

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Could This Be the Secret to Reef-Friendly Sunscreen?

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On Amazon’s Prime Day, the environment gets a raw deal

This Tuesday is day two of Prime Day, a late-capitalist online extravaganza for Amazon Prime members only. The once-a-year sale, which Amazon says rivals Black Friday for low prices, has become famous for its deals on increasingly bizarre items. But before you rush to purchase a hot dog toaster or a life-size yeti garden statue, consider the environmental footprint of that purchase — and Prime in general.

Transportation experts are split over whether online shopping reduces or increases emissions. In theory, online shopping can be more environmentally friendly than a traditional brick-and-mortar store: Either way, a truck has to deliver the items, and in the case of online shopping, you don’t have to drive to the store as well.

“Our research shows that delivering a typical order to an Amazon customer is more environmentally friendly than that customer driving to a store,” said Melanie Janin, sustainability representative at Amazon, in an email.

But research has shown that it’s a different story when companies incorporate “rush” shipping. Free two-day shipping — the hallmark of Amazon’s plan to squeeze out traditional retailers — burns through significantly more emissions than standard shipping or traditional in-store shopping.

And Amazon has only increased its shipping speeds, offering select products on Prime Now that can be delivered in one to two hours.“With one-hour or two-hour delivery, there is no time for companies to consolidate shipments,” says Miguel Jaller, professor of civil and environmental engineering at University of California Davis. “And that means more vehicles, more emissions, and more health impacts.”

When you wait three to five days for shipment, Jaller explains, Amazon has time to find the most efficient (and cheapest) way to deliver goods. Aviation is by far the most carbon-intensive transit option, and with more time the company can route your package by land, instead of by air. Slower shipping also allows Amazon to group your package with other, similar deliveries. But with Prime, there’s almost no incentive to choose a slower option.

“The concept of Amazon Prime pushes us towards more emissions,” Dan Sperling, another professor at UC Davis, tells Grist. “It makes the marginal cost of purchases very small, so you have motivation to buy more. And of course, that’s what Amazon wants.”

Emissions aren’t the only problem — the company has previously come under fire for truly unreasonable amounts of packaging for small items and more recently for troubling labor practices. But transport continues to be a sustainability problem for Amazon, and we don’t even know the full extent of the problem: the Seattle-based conglomerate is highly secretive about what their emissions actually are.

It’s not hopeless: Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, could take a stance on green delivery and prioritize low-emission vehicles. (Not a bad decision for a man recently named the richest in modern history). According to Jaller, Amazon could also offer higher incentives for Prime customers to opt for slower shipping. Other researchers have suggested labeling standard shipping as the green choice, or giving consumers the chance to purchase carbon offsets.

At the end of the day, however, it will take consumer pressure to make any of these changes. So please, consider whether you can wait a few days to receive your garden yeti — or better yet, whether you even need it at all.

“Amazon isn’t the villain in this,” says Sperling. “The villain is us — it’s what people are willing to pay for.”

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On Amazon’s Prime Day, the environment gets a raw deal

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The Science of Interstellar – Kip Thorne


The Science of Interstellar
Kip Thorne

Genre: Physics

Price: $2.99

Publish Date: November 7, 2014

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Seller: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

A journey through the otherworldly science behind Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated film, Interstellar, from executive producer and theoretical physicist Kip Thorne. Interstellar, from acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan, takes us on a fantastic voyage far beyond our solar system. Yet in The Science of Interstellar, Kip Thorne, the physicist who assisted Nolan on the scientific aspects of Interstellar, shows us that the movie’s jaw-dropping events and stunning, never-before-attempted visuals are grounded in real science. Thorne shares his experiences working as the science adviser on the film and then moves on to the science itself. In chapters on wormholes, black holes, interstellar travel, and much more, Thorne’s scientific insights—many of them triggered during the actual scripting and shooting of Interstellar—describe the physical laws that govern our universe and the truly astounding phenomena that those laws make possible. Interstellar and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s14).

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The Science of Interstellar – Kip Thorne

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Trump and Putin are clearly in cahoots — over saving the fossil fuel industry

Eric Holthaus is a meteorologist and staff writer for Grist, covering climate science, policy, and solutions. He has previously written for the Wall Street Journal, Slate, and a variety of other publications.

Whether Russia meddled in the U.S. presidential election in 2016 is not up for serious debate — numerous intelligence agencies, both foreign and domestic, concluded it did.

During a joint press conference with President Donald Trump in Helsinki on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin went a long way toward answering why. 

“I did [want Trump to win] because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal,” Putin said.

That statement was widely covered, but I’m convinced something else Putin said during the press conference is more important.

“I think that we as a major oil and gas power, and the United States as a major oil and gas power, as well, we could work together on regulation of international markets,” he said. “We do have space for cooperation here.”

Some close observers have drawn this connection before, but it’s worth saying again explicitly: There’s no way to understand Trump’s relationship with Russia without putting oil and climate politics at its center. If you’re upset at Trump and Putin for undermining our democracy, just wait until you find out that they are likely colluding to destroy our planet’s climate system, too.

After Monday’s meeting in Helsinki, it’s clearer than ever that we are at a crucial moment in our American democracy as well as in the biggest and most important fight we’ve ever had — the fight against climate change.

Fossil fuels still power 80 percent of the world’s economy, and the leaders of that dying industry might start acting in desperation to stave off its decline. You can see why rapidly eliminating dirty energy sources — exactly what science says we have to do — might be fiercely opposed by politicians who have a substantial stake in their success.

Russia is a petrostate, and the U.S. is now, too. In fact, the two countries are the world’s largest non-OPEC oil producers, extracting nearly as much as all OPEC countries combined. They also own an even greater share of the global natural gas market: Added together the two countries produce six times more natural gas than the rest of the world.

By working together, they can keep the global economy swimming in oil and gas.

And what’s the primary force working against the fossil fuel industry these days? Climate activists. It’s not difficult to see the Trump-Putin alliance as a deliberate attempt to delay action on climate change. Consider these moves:

Trump’s promise to withdraw from the Paris climate accord was specifically designed to weaken that agreement — and the spirit of cooperation it helped embody
Trump’s moves to open up offshore drilling in the Arctic will help both the U.S. and Russia access the oil-rich and increasingly ice-free region
Trump’s steel tariffs on Europe will help bolster bolster Russia’s pipeline-building oil and gas industry
Trump’s claims that by purchasing natural gas, Germany was being “controlled by” Russia is a window into his vision of fossil fuel-driven geopolitics
Trump’s buddying with North Korea might even be designed to clear the way for a Russian gas pipeline there

From their comments leading up to Monday’s meeting, it’s clear that Trump and Putin see the oil and gas industry as a critical component to their working relationship.

But here’s the thing: They will lose. Radical action on climate change is now inevitable, and the era of fossil fuels is quickly drawing to a close. Either the world bands together to shift culture and the status quo away from fossil fuels, or the climate system will do it for us.

With the costs of counteracting climate change coming down and the risk of locking in existential damages rising by the day, the only reason to delay is greed. And the truth is, now that more people than ever support action on climate change, it’s strong democratic institutions that are a direct threat to the oil industry.

The quicker we resolve to move away from our dependence on fossil fuels, the quicker Putin and Trump will become powerless.

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Trump and Putin are clearly in cahoots — over saving the fossil fuel industry

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5 Things Besides Sunscreen That Are Bad for Coral Reefs

Coral Reef Awareness Week, in the third week of July each year, was created to highlight the importance of coral reefs and the need to protect them. Coral reefs only cover 0.2 percent of the ocean floor, but these amazing ecosystems support around 2 million species of marine plants and animals. In addition, more than 500 million people throughout the world rely on coral reefs for food and income.

Coral reefs have been on the earth for about 500 million years. But in the past few decades, coral reefs have been dying at an alarming rate. It?s estimated that 19 percent of the world?s coral reefs are already dead, and 60 percent are currently at risk. If global action is not taken to stop this decline, all coral reefs will be in danger by 2050.

You may have heard about how sunscreen can be toxic to coral reefs, but many other factors also impact the health of coral reefs. Let?s look at some of the worst threats coral reefs currently face.

1. Climate Change

Research suggests that climate change is quickly becoming the most significant threat to coral reefs today.

A coral reef is actually a community of hundreds to thousands of corals, which are small, delicate animals that are easily disrupted by changes in their environment. Each tiny, soft-bodied coral secretes a hard outer skeleton of limestone to keep itself safe. The accumulation of these skeletons creates a coral reef.

This process has been going on uninterrupted for thousands of years and has created the massive coral structures we know today. But corals also form an incredible partnership with a type of algae known as zooxanthellae to keep this cycle going. Zooxanthellae are single-celled algae that can live within the corals? soft tissues, where they photosynthesize in a way similar to plants. The corals can then feed off the products of the algae?s photosynthesis and continue to grow and thrive.

It?s been observed that a rise in ocean temperatures of only one or two degrees can disrupt this unique partnership. When oceanwater heats up, the zooxanthellae start producing toxins, which forces the corals to eject the algae back into the ocean. Without the zooxanthellae, corals lose a vital food source and slowly die. This process is known as coral ?bleaching? because the colorful, living algae and corals are gone, leaving only the white limestone skeletons behind.

Climate change is causing a rise in overall ocean temperatures, as well as increasing the likelihood of localized temperature spikes. A chilling example of this was a ten-month long stretch of abnormally warm water around Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean from July 2015 to April 2016. In the months following the temperature spike, 90 percent of the reef?s corals died.

Another deadly trend fueled by climate change is ocean acidification. Every day, 90 million tons of carbon pollution is released into our atmosphere. About one-third of that carbon is absorbed by our oceans, which is gradually altering the chemistry of seawater and making it more acidic. The chemical changes make it more difficult for corals to acquire the nutrients they need to survive, causing a slower decline than bleaching, but with a similarly fatal end.

2. Over-Fishing

Global demand for fish continues to increase, both for food and for the pet trade. Over-harvesting of fish to meet this demand is taking a toll on biodiversity and the ecological balance of coral reefs. Physically damaging fishing methods, such as trawling or using dynamite or cyanide in the water, can also damage or completely destroy coral reefs.

3. Pollution

Pollution affects our entire planet, including our oceans. A 2013 study found that fine airborne particles, produced largely by human industrial activities, actually block sunlight from reaching corals, which impacts photosynthesis and growth. Researchers examined coral reefs in Panama and Belize and found their growth rates have been slowing down since the 1950s because of this reduction in sunlight.

In addition, the 8 million tons of plastic that enter the world?s oceans each year disrupt countless numbers of marine plants and animals, including corals, who will eat tiny plastic pieces thinking they?re food. Many other sources of pollution, such as oil spills, sewage and agricultural runoff, also take a toll on coral reefs.

4. Human Activities

Irresponsible human recreation, such as careless swimming, snorkeling or diving, can damage coral reefs. Boating can also hurt coral reefs through noise pollution, dropping anchors on sensitive areas or collisions with wildlife.

Human coastal development is another threat. Sensitive marine areas are being dredged and disturbed to construct airports and buildings on land reclaimed from the sea. Also, building marinas, fish farms and other water-based structures can disrupt nearby coral reefs.

5. Disease

The frequency of coral disease appears to be on the rise, primarily by infection from bacteria, fungi or viruses. Scientists believe this is largely due to the increased environmental and physical impacts corals are currently facing, which weakens their natural defenses.

For example, an Australian study looked at the effect of permanent offshore visitor platforms that had been constructed within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Researchers found that coral disease was up to 18 times more likely in reefs with platforms compared to undisturbed reefs.


The World Resources Institute has a great video summarizing their Reefs at Risk report, which examined the state of the world?s coral reefs and what we can do to bring them back to health. Check it out below.

Related on Care2

10 of the Most Endangered Species on Earth
How You Can Help Protect the World?s Wildlife
10 Surprising Facts About Turtles

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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5 Things Besides Sunscreen That Are Bad for Coral Reefs

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How to Grow Your Own Dry Beans

Growing your own dry beans is a great way to have fresh and organic dry beans on hand year-round. Beans are an easy crop to grow and there are numerous varieties you can experiment with. Let?s take a look at how to get started.

Choosing a Variety

Beans come in hundreds of different heirloom and modern varieties, all with unique flavors, colors and shapes. One of the best ways to find good varieties is to visit your local farmers? market, seed swap or garden center and ask which types of seeds work well in your area. Seed catalogs and online suppliers should also have a selection of beans appropriate for drying. In addition, chat with other gardeners to find out what?s been working for them, and maybe ask if they could share a handful of their favorite beans you can plant.

1. Bush Beans

If you live in a colder climate, bush beans are often your best choice because they have a shorter time to maturity compared to pole beans. The plants typically only grow around two to three feet (60 to 90 centimeters) tall and can stand on their own without support.

Some fast-maturing varieties to watch out for include ?Jacob?s Cattle?, ?Vermont Cranberry? or ?Black Valentine?. In climates with a longer season, ?Calypso?, ?Anasazi? or Soldier beans are classic varieties that produce well.

2. Pole Beans

Pole beans typically have a longer growing season than bush beans. They will also continue to produce beans for a longer time, unlike bush beans that often mature all at once. Pole beans require some form of support, such as a trellis, a classic pole ?teepee? or a fence. Another option is to grow your pole beans on the stalks of neighboring corn or sunflowers.

The varieties ?Good Mother Stallard?, ?Czar? or Romano-type pole beans all make excellent dry crops.

Related: How & Why to Participate in a Seed Swap

Planting Your Seeds

If your growing season is fairly short, it?s best to plant your beans soon after the risk of frost has passed in spring. If you have a longer season, you can plant beans after your spring crops are harvested and the weather has warmed up. A sunny location is ideal.

It can be beneficial to cover your seeds with Rhizobium bacteria before planting them. You can buy Rhizobium at most garden centers, and the bacteria will help the developing bean plants fix nitrogen in the soil.

All beans prefer direct sowing in the soil. In colder climates, you can plant your seeds on raised beds to capture more heat. Plant seeds one inch (2.5 centimeters) deep in your soil with one to two inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) between the seeds, giving larger seeds more space. Then, space additional rows at least one foot (30 centimeters) apart.

If you?re growing pole beans on corn or sunflowers, plant the bean seeds directly at the base of the support plants when they?re about one foot (30 centimeters) tall.

Mulch the soil after sowing to retain moisture.

Care Tips

Beans do best in a moderately rich soil, but they can also grow in fairly degraded soils due to their ability to fix their own nitrogen. This also means they do not need extra fertilizer while growing.

Water the developing plants regularly, especially as they?re forming pods. Make sure the plants dry out in between waterings to prevent mold and bacteria problems. As the plants mature, they become more drought tolerant and you can cut back on water.

Remove weeds as the seedlings are growing, although the bean plants effectively shade out any weeds as they get bigger.

Related: How to Make Beans and Grains More Digestible


Your beans are ready to harvest when the pods look dry. You?ll also likely be able hear the beans rattling inside when you shake them.

Keep in mind that beans are very sensitive to frost, so make sure you harvest them well before a potential frost date. If your beans aren?t ready yet and frost is expected, you can cut the plants early, hang them in a protected area, and let the pods continue to mature.

If your pods have matured well on the plants, you should be able to simply pull up the plants and harvest the beans. When you only have a small patch of beans, the easiest way to get the beans out of the pods is by hand. You can squeeze open the pods as you?re harvesting the plants and collect the beans in a container, or you can pick the pods off the plants and set them aside to open later.

Another option is to hold the plant inside a barrel and bang it against the sides to get the beans out. If you grow a large area of beans, you may want to invest in professional threshing equipment.

To clean the beans, you can either run the beans over a screen or use a hair dryer to blow off any debris.


Check that your beans are completely dry before packing them for storage. When you bite a bean, it should feel hard. If the beans still have some softness, spread them out in a warm area and let them dry longer until they?ve hardened.

When the beans are ready, pack them into airtight containers and store them in a dark place. They?re best used within a year. You can keep them longer, but they may become too dry and difficult to cook.

Related: 7 Ways to Avoid Gas from Beans

Bean Recipes

Looking for ideas on how to enjoy your harvest? Check out some of these delicious recipes.

Hearty 4-Bean Stew
Tuscan White Bean Soup
Simple and Delicious Black Bean Chili
Herbed Bean Salad
Beans and Greens with Herbed Polenta
Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas
Jamaican Rice and Beans

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Do Marigolds Really Repel Garden Pests?

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.


How to Grow Your Own Dry Beans

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The Song of the Dodo – David Quammen


The Song of the Dodo
Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions
David Quammen

Genre: Nature

Price: $2.99

Publish Date: March 15, 2011

Publisher: Scribner


David Quammen’s book, The Song of the Dodo , is a brilliant, stirring work, breathtaking in its scope, far-reaching in its message — a crucial book in precarious times, which radically alters the way in which we understand the natural world and our place in that world. It’s also a book full of entertainment and wonders. In The Song of the Dodo , we follow Quammen’s keen intellect through the ideas, theories, and experiments of prominent naturalists of the last two centuries. We trail after him as he travels the world, tracking the subject of island biogeography, which encompasses nothing less than the study of the origin and extinction of all species. Why is this island idea so important? Because islands are where species most commonly go extinct — and because, as Quammen points out, we live in an age when all of Earth’s landscapes are being chopped into island-like fragments by human activity. Through his eyes, we glimpse the nature of evolution and extinction, and in so doing come to understand the monumental diversity of our planet, and the importance of preserving its wild landscapes, animals, and plants. We also meet some fascinating human characters. By the book’s end we are wiser, and more deeply concerned, but Quammen leaves us with a message of excitement and hope.

Original article: 

The Song of the Dodo – David Quammen

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