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Coral reefs are an incredibly valuable natural resource, and increasing mass bleaching events are negatively impacting marine and human communities alike

Climate change has been a long discussed issue for decades now — so much to the point that many people feel somewhat detached and desensitized to the topic despite having to endure the consequences. Coral reef bleaching is only one of the devastating results of climate change, and it is one that we must address with urgency.

Coral reefs are commonly referred to as the ‘rainforests of the ocean’ as they harbor a substantial amount of diversity in marine life. Prior to the 1970s, there was little to no monitoring of the world’s coral reefs, and the first recorded effects of bleaching were in 1983, coinciding with a particularly strong El Niño that brought warm air and water throughout our planet’s major oceans. The summer of 1997 and 1998 were the hottest recorded in history, and as a result, the first major mass bleaching event in the Great Barrier Reef occurred in 1998, where 74% of the inshore displayed levels of bleaching. …


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https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

Climate change is a growing issue in this world, but you can be a part of fighting it.

Over the past four decades, an alarming phenomenon has been sweeping across one of our world’s most biodiverse ecosystems. Coral reefs from the Florida Keys to those of the Pacific Ocean have been subject to coral bleaching, a process in which a rise in oceanic temperatures causes stressed coral polyps to expel their algae and in turn, transform into a sea of stark white. From there, coral becomes much more vulnerable to disease and death, which then leads to a depletion of natural resources for reef inhabitants, a decline in species diversity and ultimately, the undoing of many marine communities. Bleaching is only one example of the many impacts resulting from climate change. As the effects of unsustainable human activity grows harsher and harsher, the rate of mass bleaching events increases, along with the rise of wildfires, droughts, and other natural disasters, and the rapid melting of our polar ice caps. Knowledge of climate change has become widespread now, and over 77% of people can actually agree that this is a problem that should be addressed and want to adopt a sustainable lifestyle. Yet, little progress seems to have been made. …


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When it comes to major environmental issues such as climate change, why is there a lack of exigency in attitudes toward making positive progress?

Introduction

The impending consequences of climate change have been on my radar, along with a majority of the world’s population’s, for a significant amount of time. It’s something that’s been named as a global concern for several decades, and most people are aware of the declining state of our planet ever since hearing it mentioned at some point growing up, whether it was from elementary school science or the national news. Coral reef bleaching, only one of many resulting effects of climate change, was introduced to me as an alarming phenomenon in several nature documentaries and thus, caught my attention as an interesting research topic. Throughout my research within the past couple of months, it’s become prevalent that scientists and environmentalists alike are stressing the need for action for the sake of the earth’s survival. Thousands of articles, podcasts, documentaries, and the occasional news segments have been increasingly categorizing climate change as a leading issue in this world. Yet in everyday politics and life, there is a lack of urgency towards addressing such an important matter. That isn’t to say that a majority of Earth’s citizens disregard the presence of climate change. With the exception of expected skeptics, the average person fully recognizes climate change as an existing problem. …

Annabelle Y Wu

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