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The Great Barrier Reef Just Experienced Its Biggest Die-Off Ever, And You Can Probably Guess Why

35 percent of the natural wonder is either dying or already dead.

In a recent scientific survey conducted which compared the Great Barrier Reef’s health to what it was just several months prior, it’s clear that increased water temperatures tied to global warming are responsible for the biggest short-term die-off the reef in recorded history. The institute behind the study, ARC Centre of Excellence For Coral Reef Studies, initially concluded earlier this year that 35% of the reef was dead or dying.

The study, conducted via aquatic exploration and sampling, along with aerial photo analysis found that the situation has worsened far faster than anyone anticipated.


This graphic, included in the study, shows the extent of the depletion of coral life off the coast of Australia.

ARC Centre of Excellence For Coral Reef Studies)

The phenomenon colloquially referred to as a “die-off” is known as “coral bleaching” technically. It takes place when increases in water temperatures lead to the expulsion of algae the coral holds called zooxanthella. The past five months showed record-high water temperatures throughout all parts of the reef, on average of a full degree Celsius than in years previous.

Without the zooxanthella, the coral starved, dying en masse throughout the reef, though the most prominent damage occurred in one area. Says, ARC scientist Terry Hughes:

“Most of the losses in 2016 have occurred in the northern, most-pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef. This region escaped with minor damage in two earlier bleaching events in 1998 and 2002, but this time around it has been badly affected.”

He says in the study that the increased temperature stems directly from carbon emissions. He also mentions that while a die-off of this scale was something of an anomaly, the trend is clear, and we can expect this to be an annual occurrence in several decades’ time should the issue of global warming not be addressed, curbed, then reversed.

Fellow ARC scientist Greg Torda told USA Today that if the trend continues unabated, “it would be among the largest mass extinction events in history.”

This video shows the profound scope and importance of the aquatic wonder:

If you’re looking for a silver lining in this bleak story about one of the richest habitats for life in the world, it seems that roughly 60% of the reef suffered relatively minor damage. While “minor damage” wouldn’t normally be anything to pop champagne over, it’s possibly a sign that there’s time to heal the Great Barrier Reef.

For those uncompelled by the intrinsic value of the most vibrant and wonderful natural formations in the world’s oceans, there’s a quantifiable and palpable financial cost to the destruction of the reef – it’s existence is the backbone of a $5 billion tourism industry that also employs upwards of 70,000 Australian and indigenous people.

The money could be generated elsewhere, but the wonders of the reef itself would be lost forever.

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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





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Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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