In case you missed it: 3 big stories from our world

A clownfish, pictured above, in the Verde Island Passage in Batangas, Philippines. (© Conservation International/photo by Sterling Zumbrunn)

Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Human Nature shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

  1. In the Philippines, dynamite fishing decimates entire ocean food chains

The story: Fishers in the Philippines drop explosives into the ocean and dive down to collect all of the dead fish they can find. This approach is wiping out fish populations and coral reefs, Aurora Almendral reported for The New York Times on June 15. As climate change poses an increasing threat to the health of coral reefs in the Philippines, efforts to stop human stressors on the reefs — such as dynamite fishing — are ramping up.

The big picture: The Philippines has 10,500 square miles of coral reefs. In a study conducted from 2015-2017, scientists discovered no reefs in excellent condition, with 90 percent classified as either poor or fair. Researchers warned that if current trends continue, the global supply of fish could be dramatically reduced in coming decades. “It’s happening,” said Jimely Flores, senior marine scientist for Oceana. “In some dynamited areas, if you dive you don’t see any fish at all.”

Read more here.

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  1. Flooding from sea level rise threatens over 300,000 US coastal homes — study

The story: New research found that as many as 311,000 U.S. coastal homes face being flooded every two weeks within the next 30 years, Oliver Milman reported for The Guardian on June 18. The rising oceans, driven by climate change, are forecast to cause damages worth US$ 120 billion by 2045.

The big picture: This will potentially inflict a financial and emotional toll on the half a million people who live in the properties at risk of flooding. Technological advances could mitigate some of the effects, but the U.S. government currently doesn’t have a plan for sea-level rise. “The impact could well be staggering,” said Kristina Dahl, a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). “This level of flooding would be a tipping point where people in these communities would think it’s unsustainable.”

Read more here.

  1. Zimbabwe unveils three climate change policies

The story: Zimbabwe has released three climate change policies designed to make the country more resistant to climate change effects and help to meet its international carbon-cutting pledges, Tonderayi Mukeredzi reported for Business Day on June 26. The policies include a campaign to educate students on climate change, an agricultural plan to ensure that farmers adopt sustainable practices and a legal structure that guides businesses on meeting the emissions-cutting promises under the Paris Climate Agreement.

The big picture: About 80 percent of rural Zimbabweans depend on rain-fed agriculture for a living, making them highly vulnerable to extreme weather associated with climate change. Tirivanhu Muhwati, a climate scientist with the Zimbabwean ministry of environment, climate and water, said the national policies would focus heavily on adaptation to climate change. “The policy [is focused on] promoting adaptation because as a developing country, our scope for mitigation or reducing emissions is limited because we are not all that industrialized compared to the developed world,” Muhwati said.

Read more here.

Morgan Lynch is a staff writer for Conservation International.

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