The Great Barrier Reef isn’t listed as ‘in danger’ – but it’s still in big trouble

The Great Barrier Reef isn’t listed as ‘in danger’ – but it’s still in big trouble

In a somewhat surprising decision, UNESCO ruled last week that the Great Barrier Reef – one of the Earth’s great natural wonders – should not be listed as “World Heritage in Danger”.

The World Heritage Committee praised the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, and the federal minister for the environment, Josh Frydenberg, has called the outcome “a big win for Australia and a big win for the Turnbull government”.

But that doesn’t mean the Reef is out of danger. Afforded World Heritage recognition in 1981, the Reef has been on the warning list for nearly three years. It’s not entirely evident why UNESCO decided not to list the Reef as “in danger” at this year’s meeting, given the many ongoing threats to its health.

However, the World Heritage Committee has made it clear they remain concerned about the future of this remarkable world heritage site.

The reef is still in deep trouble

UNESCO’s draft decision (the adopted version is not yet releasesd) cites significant and ongoing threats to the Reef, and emphasises that much more work is needed to get the health of the Reef back on track. Australia must provide a progress report on the Reef in two years’ time – and they want to see our efforts to protect the reef accelerate.

Right now, unprecedented coral bleaching in consecutive years has damaged two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. This bleaching, or loss of algae, affects a 1,500km stretch of the reef. The latest damage is concentrated in the middle section, whereas last year’s bleaching hit mainly the north.

Pollution, overfishing and sedimentation are exacerbating the damage. Land clearing in Queensland has accelerated rapidly in the past few years, with about 1 million hectares of native vegetation being cleared in the past five years. That’s an area the size of the Brisbane Cricket Ground being cleared every three minutes.

About 40% of this vegetation clearing is in catchments that drain to the Great Barrier Reef. Land clearing contributes to gully and streambank erosion. This erosion means that soil (and whatever chemical residues are in it) washes into waterways and flows into reef lagoon, reducing water quality and affecting the health of corals and seagrass.

Landclearing also directly contributes to climate change, which is the single biggest threat to the Reef. The recent surge in land clearing in Queensland alone poses a threat to Australia’s ability to meet its 2030 emissions reduction target. Yet attempts by the Queensland Government to control excessive land clearing have failed – a concern highlighted by UNESCO in the draft decision.

Land clearing can lead to serious hillslope gully and sheet erosion, which causes sedimentation and reduced water quality in the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.
Willem van Aken/CSIRO

A time for action, not celebration

The Reef remains on UNESCO’s watch list. Just last month the World Heritage Committee released a report concluding that progress towards achieving water quality targets had been slow, and that it does not expect the immediate water quality targets to be met.

The draft decision still expressed UNESCO’s “serious concern” and “strongly encouraged” Australia to “accelerate efforts to ensure meeting the intermediate and long-term targets of the plan, which are essential to the overall resilience of the property, in particular regarding water quality”.

This means reducing run-off of sediment, nutrients and pollutants from our towns and farmlands. Improving water quality can help recovery of corals, even if it doesn’t prevent mortality during extreme heatwaves.

The Great Barrier Reef is the most biodiverse of all the World Heritage sites, and of “enormous scientific and intrinsic importance” according to the United Nations. A recent report by Deloitte put its value at A$56bn. It contributes an estimated A$6.4bn annually to Australia’s economy and supports 64,000 jobs.

Excessive landclearing in Queensland, which looks like being a core issue in the next state election, has been successfully curbed in the past, and it could be again.

But the reef cannot exist in the long term without international efforts to curb global warming. To address climate change and reduce emissions, we need to act both nationally and globally. Local action on water quality (the focus of the Reef 2050 Plan) does not prevent bleaching, or “buy time” to delay action on emissions.

We need adequate funding for achieving the Reef 2050 Plan targets for improved water quality, and a plan to reach zero net carbon emissions. Without that action, an “in danger” listing seems inevitable in 2020. But regardless of lists and labels, the evidence is clear. The Great Barrier Reef is dying before our eyes. Unless we do more, and fast, we risk losing it forever.

By James Watson, Associate Professor, The University of Queensland and Martine Maron, ARC Future Fellow and Associate Professor of Environmental Management, The University of Queensland This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Stunning scientific discoveries result in prominent atheists believing in the existence of God

Stunning scientific discoveries result in prominent atheists believing in the existence of God

Can science — which approves reason and evidence, and denounces faith and religion — really prove or disprove the existence of God? Can highly respected scientists — long perceived as the champions of atheism — change their mind? Can the creator of universe be caught on video? Well, there is scientific evidence that the universe was created by an intelligence — and, for the first time, science has proof that the universe was created out of nothing.

In 2004, English philosopher and the world’s most famous atheist Antony Flew did a volte-face to conclude that some sort of intelligence must have created the universe. In short, based on scientific evidence, he proved the existence of God. In a video title Has Science Discovered God?, Flew said:

“I’m thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins. It could be a person in the sense of a being that has intelligence and a purpose, I suppose. Research into DNA had shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved.”

A decade later, Israeli scientist Gerald Schroeder, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate with over thirty years of experience in research and teaching, claimed science has proven the existence of God as described in Genesis. In a five-minute video, Schroeder proved that the universe was created out of nothing by a “force of nature” described almost exactly as the God of Genesis in the Bible.

Then in 2015, an image captured by specialist NASA telescopes sparked speculation that God had been discovered 17,000 light years away. The Sunday Express reported:

“The space agency’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array — or NuSTAR — was aimed at a pulsar (or neutron star) called PSR B1509-58 a staggering distance from earth. What they were sent back was a spectral vision of an outstretched hand —which has become known as the Hand of God. The ‘hand’ is believed to be the remnants of the star which went supernova and ejected an enormous cloud of material – leaving pulsar PSR B1509-58 in its wake. The remnant cloud when viewed via high-energy X-rays shows up as a green, red and blue hand, a staggering 175 light years across.”

Recently, Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist at the City College of New York and known as one of the developers of the revolutionary String Theory that describes how all particles are actually vibrating strings, and how these strings propagate through space and interact with each other, found evidence of a Higher Being, which he described as the action of a force “that governs everything”.

“I have concluded that we are in a world made by rules created by an intelligence. Believe me, everything that we call chance today won’t make sense anymore. To me it is clear that we exist in a plan which is governed by rules that were created, shaped by a universal intelligence and not by chance. The final solution resolution could be that God is a mathematician. The mind of God, we believe, is cosmic music, the music of strings resonating through 11-dimensional hyperspace.”

Can science really offer evidence and establish that God exists? Here is a video showing a few scientific insights that indeed point to the existence of God…


This article (Stunning Discoveries Have Scientists Confirming the Existence of God) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and AnonHQ.com.

Who Reads the Most? A Guide to Global Reading Habits (Infographic)

Who Reads the Most? A Guide to Global Reading Habits (Infographic)

Reading is an activity that enriches our lives. As well as providing access to vast amounts of information and knowledge, we read for entertainment. Good stories provide an escape where your imagination can lift you away.

When we read, not only are we improving our working memory, but research has shown that it makes us feel better and more positive too. Science has shown that reading has some amazing health benefits, including helping with depression, cutting stress, and reducing the chances of developing Alzheimer’s later in life.

Global English Editing has created an infographic of world reading habits – how much we read, what we read, and where reading is taking place.

The biggest selling book in history is Don Quixote, a story which has captured the imagination of millions worldwide.

While countries such as India, Thailand, and China spend the most hours reading per week, they are not the most “literate” countries in terms of having access to a generous number of libraries, newspapers, and computers. In that regard, Finland, Norway, and Iceland are world beaters.

Although paper books have been selling well since the invention of the printing press, e-books are growing in popularity and are projected to outsell paper books by 2018.

These are just some of the fascinating facts about world reading habits found in the infographic below, courtesy of Global English Editing.

Originally published on Global English Editing’s blog.

When it comes to information overload, we’re like frogs in boiling water

When it comes to information overload, we’re like frogs in boiling water

To consider how being constantly connected through computers and mobile devices has encroached on our working lives, consider the experiment about the frog in a pan of boiling water.

A frog in a pan of cold water that is gently heated will not realise it’s boiling to death if the change is sufficiently gradual. In the same way, the web has affected our attention span and so our productivity – slowly but surely the heat of distraction has increased as decades of internet evolution has added email, websites, instant messaging, forums, social media and video.

Striving to manage technology better or wean ourselves off from distractions such as social media updates or emails can be very hard, if not virtually impossible for some. It requires serious willpower.

Lock-down

What’s the answer for today’s organisations – lock-down and block, and risk restricting access to genuinely useful content and services? Blocking and locking-off parts of the web can only hinder progress and innovation, or by reacting to slow to change and innovation as seen in the NHS can have a negative impact on technology uptake, especially now the internet is now made up of things.

If we are to advance knowledge, it’s essential to have access to the full gamut of content online. Whether that’s to study the effects of pornography on society or for a student’s private consumption, we have to be mature about this, there is some content on the Web that will always be demanded. In fact the government’s efforts to deal with online pornography has led to the over-zealous use of internet filters. Dumb filters performing keyword filtering inevitably led to legitimate sex education websites being blocked.

Procrastination is not new and there will always find new and inventive ways of putting-off work. But there are means to help tackle that distraction, if only for some rather than all of the time.

And yet, despite the volume, it doesn’t slake your thirst.
SparkCBC, CC BY-SA

Eat that frog

The problem with digital distraction is often starts from the first moment we sit down at our desks, or even before we’ve got there. Once we open our email we are drawn into conversations, questions and broadcasts. The more emails appear, the more we feel compelled to deal with them.

A useful solution involves that frog again: we all have tasks we ignore and delay, nagging away at the back of our minds. We have to complete these tasks, so why not start your day by doing just that and eating that frog: instead of checking frivolous updates and emails, tackle an important task that’s hanging around first thing in the morning.

The Pomodoro Technique

The popular Pomodoro Technique, which suggests using 30 minute time slots for a single task, followed by a break, can be helpful in dedicating time to specific projects. Another way to reign in distraction is to create lists or use time management apps like 30:30 or Wunderlist. These help set up a structured pattern to the working day, which is especially useful if you need to use social media professionally but also need to carve out time to get other things done.

Meditate

Meditation and mindfulness has gained much attention in the last couple of years, such as Andy Puddicombe’s popular Headspace imprint. In a busy office this offers a sensible solution to problem of losing focus. Just five minutes meditation could help quiet the mind and return focus to completing the current task. Various studies have highlighted the benefits of meditation and mindfulness on a digital worker’s productivity, and general happiness too.

Create an alternative productivity calendar

Paper diaries are still often used, if less so with the modern proliferation of electronic alternatives. These often dictate the modern worker’s routine, so much so that they fill in the spaces with fractured and incomplete tasks. Another solution is to create a personal online calendar to overlay a work calendar. By scheduling everything, from checking social media and emails to family time and free periods, it’s possible to make better use of the time you have.

One of many in the armoury.
lemasney, CC BY-SA

Self-management starts with you

There comes a time to cut back on things that aren’t good for you, whether that’s food, drink, or social media. We realise that seeking distraction from our daily tasks is not healthy, especially if we can minimise it.

Professor Steve Peters has helped many high-profile sports stars control this impulsive, emotional part of the brain – something he calls the “chimp brain”. The easiest way to do so is not to feed it, for example, by not opening email. But finding a happy medium between restriction and necessary use is not easy.

Some have tried to constrain email and its effects on the workforce by turning it off for set periods. In Germany there have been calls to prevent companies from contacting employees out of hours. While this is fine for those working the nine-to-five, this no longer applies to many for a variety of reasons, some personal, some due to the nature of the work.

Self-management tools are a better option. For Google users there is an app called Inbox Pause which does just that, preventing new email distraction. There’s also restrictions for email on mobile devices that only updates when connected to known work or home networks – which means less chance of compulsively checking while out and about or on holiday.

But all of these require commitment, and like any lifestyle modification there has to be a willingness to change. Technology will continue to embed itself within our lives at home and at work, especially the use of smartphones. So if we feel the need to reign-in the distractions, whatever app or technique we choose to help us, it hinges on our own self-discipline.

Andy Tattersall is Information Specialist at University of Sheffield.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

World’s 7 Greatest Lost Treasures (Still To Be Found!)

World’s 7 Greatest Lost Treasures (Still To Be Found!)

Ready for a BIG treasure hunt? These legendary riches turned out to be real, and are still waiting to be found…

You will find in this video the latest news and discoveries about them. World’s most priceless fortunes that have been buried and then forgotten, that were misplaced without explanation, or just mysteriously disappeared. Many have been missing so long they have transformed from treasure to legend to rumor…

Time to dig them up!

The 71 Most AMAZING Innovations of All Time

The 71 Most AMAZING Innovations of All Time

One of our greatest abilities as humans is to invent and create, so the folks from AsapSCIENCE broke down the 71 most significant innovations of all time, from the invention of the spoken word up to the Hubble Telescope in 1990.

The last one featured in this video is more than 20 years old, so we’re sure there’s a few that came up since that time that should be added, such as the carbon nanotube.

What innovation would you add to this list?