Ocean Climate Solutions, Florida Corals, Climate Video Games. Sept 22, 2023, Part 2

Episode 619,   Sep 22, 10:00 PM

The ocean is the world’s largest carbon sink. We need to take better care of it. Plus, after this summer’s heat, marine biologists are scrambling to help protect the rapidly dying reef in the Florida Keys.

Florida’s Reefs Are Vanishing. Can Scientists Save Them?

This was a bad year for Florida’s coral reefs. Since the 1970s, reef cover in the Florida Keys has decreased by 90%. Those remaining reefs have been subjected to water temperatures higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, alongside other threats like disease and ocean acidification. This is a big problem for the largest reef in the continental U.S., which plays an important role in protecting the shorelines from erosion and storms.

Scientists are scrambling to preserve as much of the reef as possible. One method marine biologists are focused on is selectively breeding corals in labs. Scientists look for the specimens most resilient to heat stress, then breed them together to create hardy offspring. Those spawn are then implanted into the reef, with hopes of bolstering the existing structure.

Vox environmental reporter Benji Jones joins Ira to talk about his dives to Florida’s Pickles Reef, and the differences he saw between this year and last year. Then, Ira speaks with marine biologist Andrew Baker at the University of Miami about his efforts to bolster Florida’s reefs. 


The Ocean Is A Climate Ally

Did you know that the ocean absorbs about a quarter of all CO2 emissions? And about 90% of excess heat? It’s the largest carbon sink we have—and one of our biggest allies in the climate movement.

Ira talks with Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, marine biologist and co-founder of the non-profit Urban Ocean Lab, as well as the climate initiative The All We Can Save Project. They chat about climate solutions—like the newly launched Climate Corps—the power of the ocean, and steps forward. Dr. Johnson is also the curator for Climate Futurism, an art exhibition at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, New York.


Feeling Hopeless About Climate Change? Try Playing These Video Games

This segment, originally from 2022, was re-aired this week.

Five years ago, Stephanie Barish was tired of the public’s attitude about climate change. “Most people at that time were just so negative about climate,” she said. “It was doom and destruction, and I thought, wow, to make positive change, you have to really look at this from a solutions perspective.” 

Stephanie is the founder and CEO of Indiecade, an organization that supports indie video game developers and hosts events like the Climate Jam—the goal of which was to change the gloomy public narrative around climate change. So, with the help of organizations like Earth Games, participants around the globe gather every year to make video games about climate change optimism, solutions, and justice.

Teams can also consult with subject matter experts, like Dargan Frierson, an associate professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, and also a judge for the Climate Jam. If teams wonder what climate change would look like on a different planet, they can go to him for answers. “We always look for scientific accuracy,” he said. “I think it’s very important to keep things within the realm of possibility, even when you’re looking at fiction.”

Read the rest at sciencefriday.com.


To stay updated on all-things-science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Transcripts for each segment will be available the week after the show airs on sciencefriday.com.