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Key West activists line up outside City Hall before Tuesday’s meeting to rally for the ban of some sunscreens. Photo: Nancy Klingener/WLRN
The Miami Herald reported yesterday that the Key West City Commission on Tuesday unanimously voted to ban the sale of sunscreens that contain two ingredients — oxybenzone and octinoxate — that a growing body of scientific evidence says harm coral reefs. While opponents to the ban claim that it will increase rates of skin cancer City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley responded by saying “They have alternatives to these two chemicals. This is to me something we need to do in this community to protect our economy. What if we don’t pass this and three to five years down the road we have no reef?” Key West is following the state of Hawaii who banned the use of oxybenzone and octinoxate last year.
This is important as new research suggests that Florida’s reefs are becoming more susceptible to disease and are already at risk. As Yale E360 explained, around the globe, coral disease outbreaks are becoming more frequent, severe, and widespread. Many factors are contributing to the problem, including pollution and nitrogen runoff from fertilizers and coastal sewer and septic systems. But scientists say a key culprit is steadily increasing ocean temperatures, which have risen at least 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit in the past century and could increase several more degrees by 2100. Scientists say that bleaching associated with warming ocean temperatures is making corals more susceptible to illness.
Why This Matters: Corals are some of the most magnificent ecosystems on our planet and human activity is putting them in serious danger. Not only are coral reefs the basis of the reef ecosystem (providing habitat and vital services for the animals that live there) but healthy reefs help protect the coast from storms and are also critical for Florida’s economy. Without coral reefs, the fishing industry would greatly suffer and the money that Florida makes from divers and snorkelers enjoying its waters would be lost. Switching to an alternative sunscreen is a seriously small ask by local governments to ensure that corals don’t have to endure yet another stressor.
Tatiana Schlossberg reports for The Washington Post about the potential of seaweed to dramatically reduce methane emissions from cows. It turns out that Asparagopsis taxiformis and Asparagopsis armata — two species of crimson submarine grass — can reduce those emissions by 98% when just a small amount is added to their food. Now several companies are working […]
ABC News reports that there is a creeping underground invasion of our coasts, and it is moving inland much faster than had been previously thought, according to new research funded by the National Science Foundation. The stealth invader? Saltwater, which is infiltrating our coastal communities and creating unseen risks well in advance of the surface floods that drown our homes and businesses.
Why this Matters: This problem will become more and more common as climate change continues, causing widespread displacement across the world.
by Amy Lupica, ODP Contributing Writer According to a 2020 U.N. environmental report, seagrass “prairies” play a massive role in the health of the world’s oceans and if nothing is done to stop their decline, the world will face serious consequences. Seagrasses support rich biodiversity that sustains a whopping 20% of the world’s fisheries, and […]
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