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Coral ‘will not survive into the next century’ because of acidic oceans: study

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Scientists unveiled the first smoking-gun evidence Wednesday that growing ocean acidity caused by global warming is already stifling growth of vital coral reefs.

The decline of shallow water corals, home to a quarter of the ocean’s species and a lifeline for a billion people, has long been in evidence.

Earlier studies had shown that the rate at which living coral reefs calcify, or accumulate mass, had dropped by about 40 percent in just over 30 years.

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Up to now, however, it was not possible to tease out the impact of acidification from other threats such as pollution, over-fishing and warming water.

The world’s oceans are 26 percent more acidic today than at the start of the Industrial Revolution, when mankind started massively burning fossil fuels which give off harmful carbon dioxide (CO2).

About a quarter is absorbed by the oceans, changing their chemical composition, and making the water more acidic and corrosive to corals and shellfish.

“Our work provides the first strong evidence from experiments on a natural ecosystem that ocean acidification is already slowing coral reef growth,” said Rebecca Albright, a researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California.

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“This is no longer a fear for the future. It is the reality of today.”

The findings were published in the science journal Nature.

Albright and colleague Ken Caldeira led experiments on natural reefs off the coast of Australia’s One Tree Island, in the southern Great Barrier Reef.

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– Deep cuts –

Manipulating the chemistry of the seawater flowing over the flat reef, the researchers restored it’s pH — the balance between alkalinity and acidity — to what it would have been without climate change.

As suspected, the corals became better able to build themselves up.

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“By turning back time in this way, they demonstrate that — all things being equal — net coral-reef calcification would have been around seven percent higher than at present,” Janice Lough, a scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, noted in a comment, also published in Nature.

The novelty of the experiment, she said, is that it “restored the ocean chemistry of a natural reef to that of pre-industrial times, thus factoring out other potentially confounding factors, such as temperature.”

Some researchers have proposed artificially reducing the acidity of ocean water around coral reefs — a form of geo-engineering — as a means of preserving shallow marine ecosystems.

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But even if the experiments underlying the study did exactly that, implementing such a scheme on the required scale would be nigh impossible, the authors caution.

“The only real, lasting way to protect coral reefs is to make deep cuts in our carbon dioxide emissions,” Caldeira said.

“If we don’t take action on this issue very rapidly, coral reefs — and everything that depends on them, including both wildlife and local communities — will not survive into the next century.”

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2020 Election

‘I don’t care’: Watch Kamala Harris shut down Chris Hayes for asking a dumb question about Trump

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Sen. Kamala Harris shut down MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes during a post-debate interview on Tuesday evening.

Hayes questioned Harris about her call for Twitter to follow their terms of service and kick President Donald Trump off of the platform.

"Do you think he puts people’s lives in danger when he targets them in tweets?" Hayes asked.

"Absolutely," Harris replied.

"Do you think he knows that?" Hayes asked.

"Does it matter?" Harris replied.

"The fact is he did it. The fact is that he is irresponsible, he is erratic," she explained. "He is like a 2-year-old with a machine gun."

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2020 Election

Democrats blast Trump and demand his impeachment at CNN debate

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Democratic White House hopefuls united in searing condemnation of Donald Trump during their fourth debate Tuesday, saying the president has broken the law, abused his power, and deserves to be impeached.

From the opening moments, most of the dozen candidates on stage launched fierce broadsides against Trump over the Ukrainian scandal at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

"The impeachment must go forward," said Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is neck and neck with former vice president Joe Biden at the head of the 2020 nominations race.

"Impeachment is the way that we establish that this man will not be permitted to break the law over and over without consequences," she thundered.

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2020 Election

Here are 3 winners and 4 losers from the CNN/NYT Democratic presidential primary debate

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Twelve Democrats took to the stage Tuesday night for yet another debate in the party's 2020 president primary hosted by CNN and the New York Times.

After only ten candidates qualified for the previous debate, an additional two — Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and wealthy donor and former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer — made it to the stage this round for an even more crowded event.

The candidates discussed a range of important policy issues, but since the format was a debate, and they're all competing for the same nomination, it is ultimately most critical who won and who lost the night. Here are three winners and four losers — necessarily a subjective assessment, of course — from the debate:

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