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The Great Barrier Reef Is Dying and Humans Are to Blame | Take Action Tuesday @EarthFoodLife

September 10, 2019
Turning point: Located on the eastern coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is the largest reef system on Earth, with more than 3,000 separate reefs and coral cays. Spanning an area of around 14,300 square miles and encompassing about 13 percent of the planet’s total coral reef, the GBR is also one of the most complex natural ecosystems, with 600 types of corals supporting thousands of animal species across the entire food chain, from tiny planktons to whales. But climate change, overfishing and land clearance are all damaging the GBR. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), the Australian state agency responsible for protecting the GBR, said the outlook for the ancient superorganism was “very poor.” GBRMPA chief Josh Thomas warned that we are at a “critical” point in the reef’s history, saying its future depends on action taken now, even as his agency approved the dumping of more than one million metric tons of sediment from dredging operations within the marine park. (Image: NASA)

Citizen Reef: You may not know it, but the world’s largest living organism, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), has been looking out for all those who call Australia home—flora, fauna, humans—for the last 20,000 years. It’s been protecting the continent’s coastlines, preventing tidal waves and tropical storms from washing away the nation’s cities. It’s regulating the carbon dioxide levels of the ocean to combat climate change and keep air and beaches clean. It’s created a nursery to more than 10 percent of the planet’s fish species, helping to maintain global fish populations. It’s even contributing to the Australian economy by generating $6.4 billion every year, supporting over 64,000 jobs and holding a net worth of $56 billion. But despite its massive contribution to Australia and the world, it’s still denied the one basic right of every Australian citizen: the right to live. Coal mining, greenhouse gas emissions, the continued growth of the fossil fuel industry and lack of action against climate change are all threatening the life of the GBR. In fact, more than half of the shallow water corals of the GBR have been bleached to death since 2016—all due to increasing ocean temperatures that force her to starve herself. And with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority approving the dumping of more than 1 million metric tons of “dredge spoil”—a mixture of rock, soil and shell sediments extracted and deposited during dredging and dumping activities—within the marine park boundaries, things aren’t looking to improve.
>>>Urge Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Susan Levy, Australian Minister for the Environment, to make the Great Barrier Reef an Australian citizen to protect her right to live.

Animal Legal Defense Fund: Do you think of animals as property? The question might seem absurd. But in many circumstances, that’s how our legal system treats animals: as mere property. This treatment can deprive animals of meaningful legal protections that they need and the right to enforce whatever protections they have in court. This treatment is simply out-of-sync with how most people view animals. The “Not Property Movement” rallies support for the legal system to recognize that animals have basic rights. Any reasonable person would agree that animals are not things. They’re complex living, feeling beings, who experience a range of emotions like joy and contentment as well as sadness, fear and pain. But every day that the legal system disregards the basic interests and rights of animals is another day that they are especially vulnerable to cruelty and injustice.
>>>Sign the National Not Property Petition to Protect Animals to voice your support for elevating animals’ legal status.

PETA: In the “forced swim test,” a widely used experiment conducted by pharmaceutical companies, mice, rats, guinea pigs, hamsters and gerbils are placed in inescapable containers filled with water. The panicked animals try to escape by attempting to climb up the sides of the beakers or even by diving underwater in search of an exit. They paddle furiously, desperately trying to keep their heads above water. Eventually, they’ll start to float. Some pharmaceutical companies have used the test when developing treatments for depression, even though it has been shown that it doesn’t accurately predict whether a drug will work as a human antidepressant. The forced swim test is bad science. It does nothing more than terrify animals and delay the development of effective new treatments for depression that are so desperately needed. After discussions with PETA US, AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk, AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson announced that they’ll no longer conduct or fund this cruel test. Roche also stated it has discontinued its use of forced swim tests after hearing from PETA US, PETA Switzerland and PETA Germany. But pharmaceutical giants Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly and Pfizer are refusing to commit to banning it.
>>>Urge Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly and Pfizer to ban the use of the forced swim test.

Cause for concern…

Out of sync: Warmer water temperatures can cause corals to expel the algae living in their tissues which in turns makes the coral turn completely white, as shown in the photo above of dying corals in the Red Sea. Research indicates that this condition, called coral bleaching, is five times more frequent today that four decades ago. New research has found that the highly synchronized spawning events of certain reef-building corals in the Red Sea have completely changed over time, drastically reducing their opportunities to have successful fertilization, thus putting them at risk of extinction. Ocean warming and human-caused pollution may be to blame. “Temperature has a strong influence on coral reproductive cycles,” said zoologist Yossi Loya of Tel Aviv University and co-author of the paper, published last week in the journal Science. “In our study region, temperatures are rising fast, at a rate of 0.31 degrees Celsius per decade, and we suggest that the breakdown in spawning synchrony reported here may reflect a potential sublethal effect of ocean warming. Another plausible mechanism may be related to endocrine (hormonal) disrupting pollutants, which are accumulating in marine environments as a result of ongoing human activities that involve pollution.” (Photo credit: prilfish/Flickr)

Round of applause…

Plant power: New research shows that successfully navigating the additional effort associated with plant-based diets can help vegans to “promote an image of upward mobility in contemporary consumer society,” write the study authors Thomas Robinson, a lecturer in marketing at Cass Business School at the City University of London, and Outi Lundahl, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Groningen, in The Conversation. “Of course, the ethical and environmental aspects are still—for many people—the major motivation to be vegan,” they note. “But as other recent research of ours shows, thanks to recent celebrity uptake of the diet, veganism is no longer a purely moral movement at the periphery of society, but also a desirable lifestyle choice considered trendy in mainstream culture. Indeed, Beyoncé’s undertaking of a 22-day vegan challenge helped interest in veganism to explode.” (Photo credit: Sean and Lauren/Flickr)

Parting thought…

“The greatest ethical test that we’re ever going to face is the treatment of those who are at our mercy.” —Lyn White

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