by Susanna Parker

Climate Change Could Cause Major Shift in Coral Reef Communities BGnews_logo

Climate change and the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may result in conditions less favorable to reef building stony corals. The buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has had the effect of increasing oceanic acidity worldwide. When carbon dioxide reacts with water, atmospheric carbon dioxide transforms to carbonic acid. That acid damages hard corals, which secrete calcium carbonate to form a protective outer shell. Softer corals, cousins to the reef building corals, lack the hard outer skeleton that is damaged when the water turns acidic. The changing conditions could lead to a change in the makeup of coral communities. When you combine the less favorable conditions with the softer corals’ ability for rapid colonization, softer corals may out-compete hard corals.

Stony corals are an important member of the underwater ecosystem. Their protective outer layers help provide shelter and habitats for many reef organisms, such as clownfish. Though it covers less than 1 percent of the ocean floor, hard coral reefs support about 25 percent of all marine life. Soft corals do not provide the same shelter to marine organisms, and their dominance could result in a major shift in the underwater environment.

For more information about carbon dioxide and coral reefs, please read the full Huffington Post article.

Obama to Designate Five New National Monuments

Sources from several prominent environmental groups say that President Obama will designate five new national monuments, including one in Maryland commemorating Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railway. The other four monuments are the First State National Monument in Delaware and Pennsylvania, the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico, Washington state’s San Juan Islands National Monument, and Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio. The Antiquities Act, which allows the president to protect federal lands without congressional approval, was rarely invoked by President Obama during his first term. After an internal Interior Department list of potential monument sites became public, House Republicans threatened to repeal the act. Obama therefore kept his first four national monument designations to areas of cultural or historical significance.

Two of Obama’s new designations – San Juan Islands and Rio Grande del Norte – are ecologically valuable. Environmentalists have shown vocal support the president’s move, and local communities near all five monuments support additional federal protections. In Maryland, Governor Martin O’Malley, and Democratic Senators Barbara Milkulski and Ben Cardin had all lobbied President Obama to establish a monument commemorating Harriet Tubman’s work. Brian O’Donnell, the executive director of the Conservation Lands Foundation, praised Obama’s actions, saying “…we are grateful for President Obama’s leadership in advancing conservation at a time when it’s desperately needed.”

For more information, please read the full Washington Post article here.

Upcoming Green Events

  • Bethesda Green Finance Workshop Series for Green Business, “Due Diligence: Evaluating a Potential Investment”, Thursday March 28, 8am – 10am, 4825 Cordell Avenue, Second Floor

The fourth installment in Bethesda Green’s Finance Workshop Series will address the substance and process of the due diligence investment evaluation. Advice will also be given on how entrepreneurs should conduct due diligence on the potential investor. Speakers include John May of New Vantage Partners, Mahesh Konduru of Potomac Energy Fund, and David Levine of Geostellar. For more information, and to RSVP, please visit Bethesda Green’s Program Page.

  • Non-Native Invasive Plant Removal Class, Wednesday April 3, 6:30pm – 9pm, 3030 12th Street NE

Join Rock Creek Conservancy and Casey Trees for an educational session on non-native invasive plants. Learn how to identify and control species of non-native invasive plants, including garlic mustard, mile-a-minute, and bush honeysuckle. Once you’ve learned all about invasive plants, you’ll be ready for the Rock Creek Clean-up on Saturday April 6th! For more information, and to RSVP, please visit here.

Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.

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