A green sea turtle among the corals at Lady Elliot Island, the southernmost coral cay of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has lost over half of its coral populations in the past three decades because of ocean warming, a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B published Wednesday finds.
Why it matters: The World Heritage-listed underwater ecosystem is a haven for biodiversity, with some 4,000 species of fish, 700 species of coral and “thousands of other species of plants and animals,” per the nonprofit Coral Reef Alliance. It spans some 1,400 miles — making it the largest coral reef ecosystem in the world.
What they did: Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoralCoE), in Queensland, Australia, assessed coral communities and their colony size along the length of the Great Barrier Reef from 1995 to 2017.
What they found: Researchers discovered that climate change is driving an increase in the frequency of reef disturbances, such as marine heatwaves. Nearly every coral species has declined since the comprehensive research began.
What they’re saying: Bob Richmond, director of the Kewalo Marine Laboratory at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, who’s extensively researched reefs, told the Washington Post the Australian research shows “demographic changes are occurring on a regional scale … on reef slopes that make it difficult for coral reefs to persist over time.”
The bottom line: “The loss of these corals means a loss of habitat, which in turn diminishes fish abundance and the productivity of coral reef fisheries,” the study notes.
Joe Biden said at an ABC town hall on Thursday night that he will come out with a clear position on court packing by Election Day, but that his answer on the issue will depend on how the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is “handled.”
The state of play: Biden said he has “not been a fan” of expanding the court because it would change the court’s makeup depending on who the president is. But he signaled he would be “open to considering what happens” if Republicans push through Barrett’s confirmation before the election without proper debate in the Senate.
A person wearing a QAnon sweatshirt at a Trump rally in New York City on Oct. 3. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
President Trump said during NBC’s town hall event on Thursday that he does not know much about QAnon, the sprawling, far-right conspiracy theory, and refused to condemn the baseless theory.
Why it matters: The FBI identified fringe online conspiracy theories, like QAnon, as domestic terrorist threats in 2019. The group falsely alleges a secret cabal of sex traffickers and pedophiles is waging a war against Trump from inside the government.
Great Barrier Reef, Coral reef, Climate change
World news – GB – Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has lost half its corals in 25 years