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Global Fisheries Have Declined Due to Ocean Warming, 'Groundbreaking' Study Finds
More than 56 million people work in the global fishing industry or depend on fish for their main source of food, but that livelihood is already being threatened by climate change, a groundbreaking University of Rutgers led study found.
The study, published in Science Friday, looked at the impact of increased ocean temperatures on sustainable catches around the world over an 80 year period and found they had declined on average by 4.1 percent.
"We were stunned to find that fisheries around the world have already responded to ocean warming," study co-author and Rutgers' Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources associate professor Malin Pinsky told Rutgers Today."These aren't hypothetical changes sometime in the future."
While 4.1 percent might not sound like a large amount, lead author Chris Free explained to The New York Times that it was still a big loss.
"That 4 percent decline sounds small, but it's 1.4 million metric tons of fish from 1930 to 2010," Free said, referring to the 80-year-period covered by the study.
Further, some regions of the world saw a steeper decline. In both the northeast Atlantic and the Sea of Japan, sustainable catches declined by 34 and 35 percent respectively over the study period.
Scientists not involved in the study lauded it as an important contribution to the knowledge of how climate change impacts marine life.
"This is going to be one of those groundbreaking studies that gets cited over and over again," University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences Associate Professor Trevor Branch told The New York Times "Most of what I've seen before in terms of climate-change impacts have been speculative, in terms of, 'We think this is what's going to happen in the future.' This one's different."
The researchers looked at 235 populations of 124 species in 38 regions, according to Rutgers Today.
Here are some of their key findings by region, as reported by The New York Times:
- About a quarter of the regions studied saw fish populations increase; black sea bass catches increased by six percent off the U.S. Atlantic coast.
- About of a quarter of the regions studied saw no changes, including the northwest Atlantic.
- Half of the regions studied saw fish populations decline.
- Fish in colder areas responded better to warming generally than fish in already warm water.
However, the scientists warned that populations that had benefited from warming so far could still be harmed by it in the future.
"Fish populations can only tolerate so much warming, though," senior author and Rutgers' Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences associate professor Olaf Jensen told Rutgers Today. "Many of the species that have benefited from warming so far are likely to start declining as temperatures continue to rise."
The scientists said that ultimately the solution was to curb climate change, but also recommended actions to mitigate its impacts on global fisheries.
"We recommend that fisheries managers eliminate overfishing, rebuild fisheries and account for climate change in fisheries management decisions," Free, who started the research as a doctoral student at Rutgers and is now a post-doctoral scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told Rutgers Today. "Policymakers can prepare for regional disparities in fish catches by establishing trade agreements and partnerships to share seafood between winning and losing regions."
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Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.