Happy Earth Day!
Today marks the 50th Earth Day and Mississippi Aquarium is excited to be celebrating it with you. The theme for Earth Day 2020 is climate action. As the climate changes and shifts it has a dramatic effect on the world’s oceans. The temperature has increased by 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit from1880 according to NOAA. This may not seem like much, but it is enough to shift the distribution of animals, such as mosquitoes, and increase evaporation which influences the weather. Atmospheric CO2 (carbon dioxide) is also increasing and has almost doubled in 150 years. This increase has made the ocean more acidic which is detrimental to many animals.
Coral reefs are one of the most well-known marine ecosystems being affected by climate change, but it is not only the coral that are being affected. Coral reefs provide a habitat for more than a quarter of all marine fish species as well as a variety of marine mammals. Coral has a symbiotic relationship with a photosynthetic algae called zooxanthellae. The corals are dependent on these zooxanthellae for food. When the waters get too warm the coral expel the zooxanthellae and, once expelled it is almost impossible to get them back. This is known as coral bleaching.
Climate change is a complex process that has scientific, economic, societal, political and ethical impacts. It will affect everyone for generations to come, but there are some things that can be done now to make a difference.
There are a variety of ways that we can mitigate climate change. What we can do:
The key to any change is knowledge! The more you know about what is going on with our planet, the better you will be at helping it recover. This Earth Day we encourage everyone to make a difference. Small changes can have big impacts.