Taking a Stand for Clean Water and Healthy Ecosystems
By Steve Bone
The California experience that brings in millions of dollars in tourism revenue rests on the promise of clean, safe water. Dirty water and closed beaches due to bacteria and contamination will smear beach cities’ reputations and severely damage the tourism industry. It is time for Californians to take a stand and make their demands for clean water.
Too often the benefits of a protected environment are overshadowed by the costs of conservation. Valuing ecosystem services is often difficult, but when weighing the benefits of a flourishing ecosystem we can see major economic benefits. Clean water, long undervalued, contributes heavily to major sectors of the economy in Orange County and benefits local businesses, industries and residents.
In Huntington Beach alone, ten miles of uninterrupted beachfront draw an annual visitor population of more than 16 million people. Tourists flock to these beaches from around the world expecting our beautiful sand and surf. The city’s annual U.S. Open of Surfing alone wrangled in $21.5 million in spending throughout Orange County, with $16.5 million in Huntington Beach.
The state Legislature’s passage of Senate Concurrent Resolution 48 urges Californians to reclaim and celebrate their right to clean and safe water. The resolution, which declared July 25 as "Swimmable California Day", sheds light on the need for future political actions that safeguard our clean water. Clean water goes beyond political and geographical boundaries and impacts us all. The public must come together in the fight for clean water to show that an issue as critical as clean water cannot be divided by political agendas.
Swimmable California Day was a celebration and reminder of the tremendous effort it takes to protect clean water for our economy and coastal livelihoods. Swimmable California Day set the foundation for starting a conversation about water and our relationship to it. By beginning the conversation about clean water and generating an informed population of concerned individuals, organizations like Orange County Coastkeeper can help bolster community support for comprehensive action to protect the health and safety of our water.
As the President of the Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitors Bureau, I understand the aesthetic, recreational, economic and cultural value of clean water. By spending the time and effort now to protect our water, we effectively safeguard the vital economic interests of our community.
Visit EcoWatch’s WATER page for more related news on this topic.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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