Real-time data show COVID-19’s continuing, massive impact on global emissions, plus scientists in Costa Rica are using asexual budding to grow new corals to save Costa Rican coral reefs. The UK seeks UNESCO Heritage site status for one of its world class peat bogs, while the Chesapeake Bay Commission celebrates 38 years of bipartisan cooperation!
Covid-19’s Impact on Global Emissions, Asexual Budding Being Used to Grow New Coral Reefs, UK’s Quest For UNESCO Heritage Site Status, Chesapeake Bay Commission Observes 38 Years of Bipartisan Cooperation
REAL-TIME DATA SHOWS COVID-19’s MASSIVE IMPACT ON GLOBAL EMISSIONS
While the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to threaten millions of lives around the world, the first half of 2020 saw an unprecedented decline in CO2 emissions — larger than during the financial crisis of 2008, the oil crisis of 1979, or even World War II. An international team of researchers has found that in the first six months of this year, 8.8 percent less carbon dioxide was emitted than in the same period in 2019 — a total decrease of 1.5 BILLION tons. The groundbreaking study not only offers a much more precise look at COVID-19’s impact on global energy consumption than previous analyses. It also suggests what fundamental steps could be taken to stabilize the global climate in the aftermath of the pandemic.
The researchers also found strong rebound effects. Thus, the authors stress that the only valid strategy to stabilize the climate is a complete overhaul of the transportation industry and commerce sectors.
DEEPER DIVE: POTSDAM INSTITUTE FOR CLIMATE IMPACT RESEARCH (PIK)
SCIENTISTS IN COSTA RICA ARE GROWING NEW CORALS TO SAVE REEFS
Let’s take a trip to Costa Rica for this next story. Reported by Mongabay, scientists in Costa Rica are growing coral from existing reefs to save the marine ecosystem. Over the past three years, scientists with Raising Coral Costa Rica have been experimenting and testing techniques to restore ancient reefs in southwestern Costa Rica waters. To grow the coral, scientists have been snapping off pieces of the existing reef and growing them in an underwater nursery. Through a form of asexual reproduction, the coral grows a genetic clone of the original piece. After months of growth, the scientists move the corals to a skeleton-like structure that was once a living reef.
While these findings are helping to restore local ecosystems, the scientists are hoping their research would help restore reefs in nearby countries. Global warming continues to cause ocean temperatures to rise and around the world. Scientists are in a race to save the ocean and restore coral reefs, as they are one of the most fundamental species in marine ecosystems.
DEEPER DIVE: Mongabay
UK PEAT BOGS COULD WIN UNESCO HERITAGE SITE STATUS
World heritage status for Scottish peat bogs could help UK hit net zero goals. Hopes rise that the Flow Country, the world’s largest carbon store, could become the first peatland to win the status. Conservationists hope the heart of Flow Country, an area of about 1,400 sq km of the most pristine peatland, will come a significant step closer to becoming the first peatland globally to win world heritage site status. Soon the UK government will confirm whether it will ask UNESCO to add the Flow Country to an exclusive list that includes the Great Barrier Reef and the Taj Mahal.
Its supporters, senior conservation scientists, argue it would make the region a showcase for peatland management, including repairing areas damaged by human intervention worldwide, and confirm peat bogs as essential components in future efforts to arrest climate change. Peatlands are among the greatest stores of carbon, trapping billions of tonnes in places as remote as parts of Russia, the Falkland islands and Tierra del Fuego. Ecologists estimate that while peatlands cover only 3% of the Earth’s land surface, they hold 30% of the carbon stored on land. They calculate the Flow Country’s peatlands, which are up to 15 metres deep after more than 10,000 years of plant deposition and expansion, alone hold 400m tonnes of carbon – roughly twice the total carbon content of all the woodlands and forests in the UK.
DEEPER DIVE: THE GUARDIAN
CHESAPEAKE BAY COMMISSION
For over 40 years, the Chesapeake Bay Commission has delivered collaborative bipartisan cleanup efforts, bringing together Democratic and Republican lawmakers to find solutions to environmental problems. Reported by the Bay Journal, the 21-member Chesapeake Bay Commission has established pivotal restoration efforts. The commission sponsored the initial 1983 summit that formally launched the Bay cleanup campaign. Since then, the commission has drafted and passed dozens of laws for state and federal funding for Bay restoration efforts.
The commissions’ current chairman said the group is unlike any he’s ever been a part of with, members from different states and political ties working together. In an interview with Bay Journal, the chairman said he never heard politics mentioned at the meetings and called the experience “refreshing and rewarding.” The commission is currently working on laws, programs, and funding to restore the Bay’s water quality.
A DEEPER DIVE: The Bay Journal