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Magma News| March 11, 2020 -Climate change attacks the coral reefs -Tesla Invests back into its super fans. -Market Watch -The Coronavirus Pandemic in the US -Harvey Weinstein is Sentenced. Check back every Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
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Mar 12, 2020
12:00 AM

Climate change could wipe out all coral reef habitat within decades, scientists warn.

BY JEFF BERARDELLI / CBS NEWS

In the blink of a geological eye, more than 50% of the world's coral reefs have disappeared — wiped out by factors like warming waters, pollution and overfishing — all within the past few decades. That in itself is disturbing, but new research reveals an even more distressing finding: virtually all of the coral reef habitat on Earth is likely to vanish by the end of this century.

"By 2100, it's looking quite grim," said Renee Setter, a biogeographer at the University of Hawaii Manoa, who presented them

The research team simulated future ocean conditions like sea surface temperature, wave energy, acidity, pollution, and overfishing in areas where corals now exist. The team found most parts of the ocean where coral reefs live today won't be suitable habitats for corals by 2045, and virtually no suitable habitats will be left by 2100. Coral reefs are a vital building block of Earth's oceans systems, nurturing 25% of marine life and supporting local economies worldwide. All told, coral reef benefits are valued at an estimated $10 Trillion annually.

The new study is especially disheartening considering recent promising efforts to rehabilitate coral reefs, which have resulted in 60% of survival rates of restored corals. The new study means even if coral is restored in the short term, warmer and more acidic oceans due to human-caused climate change may soon overwhelm those efforts.

That's because coral reefs are extremely sensitive to warming waters. An increase of just a couple of degrees in sea surface temperature over a few weeks can lead to mass bleaching, a phenomena where coral turns white as it expels the symbiotic algae it relies on for survival and for its vibrant colors. Bleaching itself does not kill, but it weakens corals, making them more susceptible to disease and death.

Climate change is a double whammy for coral, due both to ocean heating and acidification from dissolved carbon dioxide. The world's official climate body, the United Nations' International Panel on Climate Change, projects that coral reefs will decline by 70% to 90% in the next couple of decades and by 99% percent if global warming reaches 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

In recent decades, tropical sea surface temperatures have increased by more than 1 degree Fahrenheit and there has been a significant increase in marine heat waves, which are responsible for mass bleaching events like the one that devastated the Great Barrier Reef in 2016.

Because of the burning of fossil fuels, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have risen by nearly 40% since the mid 1800s. One quarter of the carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean, and as a result the oceans are becoming more acidic. The higher acid levels dissolve shells of marine life and stunt coral building.

Current trends provide little reason for hope, but Setter points to great research being done around the world trying to identify the most hardy corals through assisted evolution, as a last-ditch effort to save coral reefs from vanishing.

"I believe there is hope that they will be able to identify corals that may withstand climate change," said Setter. "The question becomes if they would be able to replenish and restore coral to the same extent that the ecosystem exists today. Coral restoration is a slow and time consuming process."

Dr. Mark Eakin, coordinator of NOAA's Coral Reef Watch Program, shares Setter's concerns. He says there's evidence that coral reef restoration, like transplanting corals adapted to higher temperatures, is working. But he believes the more resilient coral won't likely be able to compete with the pace of climate change.

"It's unlikely the adapted corals will be able to keep up with projected increases in the frequency and intensity of marine heat waves," Eakin said.

Both sea surface temperatures and ocean acidity are projected to increase markedly in the coming decades. And while combating pollution and overfishing is important, Setter says the main issue for coral is a warmer and more acidic ocean.

"At the end of the day, fighting climate change is really what we need to be advocating for in order to protect corals," she said.

Eakin puts it bluntly: "The most important point to make is that all the restoration and assisted evolution work will be wasted if we don't move to carbon-free energy. That means bringing emissions to zero and mechanisms to remove excess carbon from the atmosphere."

Tesla’s Next Big Challenge Is Bringing Solar Roofs to Superfans

Elon Musk’s latest home-greening technology is starting small, with only the earliest of adopters coming off a multiyear waitlist.

By Dana Hull for Bloomberg Green

Eric and Tara Neumann are all-in on Tesla Inc. In the summer of 2018, they got an electric Model 3 sedan with the vanity license plate 800DAYZ, as in how long they waited for the $52,000 electric car after putting down their $1,000 deposit. That December, they bought a used Model X SUV for roughly $69,200. And a few weeks ago, they were among the first in California’s San Francisco Bay Area to get the latest version of Tesla’s Solar Roof installed on their house. The roof setup, which comes with two Tesla home batteries known as Powerwalls, was $83,000, financed through the company.

“When we bought the house, we knew we needed to replace the roof, and we knew we wanted to go solar,” Eric Neumann says in the family’s San Ramon driveway. “We’re both geeks, and we’re both in IT. We didn’t mind having to pay extra.” They put down a $1,000 deposit for a Solar Roof back in 2018, too. Federal and state tax credits took about $10,000 off the price tag for the Model 3; with the roof gear, expected to help offset their electric bill, a federal tax credit will cover about a fourth of the purchase and installation costs.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, is pushing the Solar Roof and batteries as essential components of the company’s drive to reduce fossil fuel use. “The future that we all want is the future where you look around and the roofs are gathering energy and doing something useful,” he said during a conference call about the latest iteration of the product last fall. The Solar Roof is a mix of glass roof tiles and solar energy-collecting tiles that are made at Tesla’s factory in Buffalo, New York. (From the ground, it’s tough to pick out the solar tiles from the dummy tiles.)

Musk first unveiled the roof idea in the fall of 2016, weeks before Tesla acquired solar-panel installer SolarCity for about $2 billion. Tesla shareholders challenged the acquisition, naming Tesla’s board of directors as defendants. All the directors except for Musk reached a tentative settlement last month, leaving the CEO—who also happens to be Tesla’s largest shareholder—to battle alone. Judge Joseph Slights III is scheduled to hear the case in Delaware Chancery Court in a 10-day trial starting on March 16.

After a lot of engineering work (and cost-cutting), Tesla still has things to figure out. Musk has said he’s targeting an install time of just eight hours. The Neumanns’ installation took 17 days: six to tear off the old roof and 11 to install the new one. Tesla now needs to expand its manufacturing and installation capabilities. The company is hiring roofers and installers to deploy the Solar Roof in 17 states, including New York and Texas.

In its most recent annual report, Tesla says that the Solar Roof “features aesthetically pleasing and durable glass roofing tiles designed to complement the architecture of homes and commercial buildings while turning sunlight into electricity.” Appearances are a significant part of the appeal.

“Hats off to Tesla for making a go at an actual solar roof. It’s a lot more work, and it’s a very time-consuming and tricky thing to do,” says Barry Cinnamon, CEO Cinnamon Energy Solutions, a solar and battery storage installer in Silicon Valley. There’s a market, he says, “among people who really love Tesla, have the cars, and have a lot of money.”

Dow drops 1,400 points and tumbles into a bear market, down 20% from last month's record close.

Fred Imbert | CNBC

The coronavirus-induced sell-off reached a new low on Wednesdayas Wall Street grappled with the rapid spread of the virus as well as uncertainty around a fiscal response to curb slower economic growth resulting from the outbreak.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 1,464.94 points, or 5.9%, to close at 23,553.22. The 30-stock average closed in a bear market, down more than 20% below the record close set only last month and putting to end an expansion that started in 2009 amid the financial crisis.

The S&P 500 ended the day 4.9% lower at 2,741.38 and just short of a bear market. The Nasdaq Composite fell 4.7% to 7,952.05 and was also about 19% below its all-time high.A 20% decline is considered a bear market on Wall Street. However, most investors don't recognize it officially until an index does it on a closing basis.

"We can see the panic in the equity market," said Jerry Braakman,chief investment officer of First American Trust. "The big question for most people is, are we at the bottom yet? I think we're only about halfway there."

Losses intensified on Wednesday after the World Health Organization declared outbreak an official global pandemic. The number of coronavirus cases around the world totaled more than 100,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In the U.S. alone, more than 1,000 cases have been confirmed. This increase in cases added to fears of a global economic slowdown and have increased calls for government intervention.

President Donald Trump suggested Tuesday a 0% payroll tax rate that could last until the end of the year.However, the timing of such policies being implemented remains uncertain. Sen. Chuck Grassley, who heads the Senate Finance Committee, said such a tax cut needed to be examined.

"Markets seem disappointed that the White House did not release details of its fiscal response to the coronavirus," said Brian Gardner, a Washington policy analyst at KBW. "We are still in early days and policymakers are continuing to grapple with different options and negotiate between the two parties and between Congressand the administration."

Central banks have also acted to curb slower economic growth. The Bank of England on Wednesday cut its benchmark rate by 50 basis points to 0.25%. The Federal Reserve also increased the amount of money it is providing to banks through overnight repo lending to $175 billion. This follows the Fed's emergency half point rate cut last week.

The uncertainty around fiscal stimulus, coupled with a reduction in travel demand and rising coronavirus cases, pressured airline and cruise line stocks. American, Delta, United and JetBlue all fell at least 4.3%. Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival fell 26.7% and 9.5%, respectively.

"We need to see meaningful support for economic activity and credit backstops especially for small businesses, not a targeted approach executed only by the executive branch," Joe Kalish, chief global macro strategist at Ned Davis Research, said in a note. "We will likely need congressional involvement. This is a potential solvency problem."

Bank shares also fell broadly. Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase fell 4% and 4.7%, respectively. Citigroup lost 8.6% while Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs both dropped more than 6.5%.

Wednesday's moves came after the major averages posted sharp gains in the previous session. The Dow rallied more than 1,100 points while the S&P 500 had its best one-day performance since Dec. 26, 2018.

"Stocks posted impressive headline gains, but more strength needs to be seen beneath the surface to have confidence that the downside momentum in stocks has been broken," Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird, said in a note. "The weight of the evidence continues to argue for caution in the near term and we recommend that investors remain patient in the face of ongoing market volatility."

US coronavirus cases top 1,200 and officials call off events.

Christina Maxouris, Holly Yan and Steve Almasy, CNN

For the first time in 11 years, the World Health Organization has declared a pandemic as a top US health official calls for "all hands on deck" to fight coronavirus.

A pandemic is defined as the "worldwide spread" of a new disease.

The US has more than 1,200 cases of novel coronavirus. And growing clusters of the disease are forcing many Americans to change their daily lives.

One of the biggest sports events of the year, the men's Division I basketball tournament, known as March Madness, will be played with only family members and essential personnel in attendance, NCAA President Mark Emmert announced. The women's tournament also will be played to largely empty arenas.

"While I understand how disappointing this is for fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how Covid-19 is progressing in the United States," he said.

Other large events have been postponed or canceled. Dozens of universities are temporarily shutting down campuses. A New York suburb now has a "containment zone." And more companies are urged to let their employees work from home.

"Keeping the workplace safe, keeping the home safe, keeping the school safe and keeping commercial establishments safe -- this should be universal for the country," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

"We would like the country to realize that, as a nation, we can't be doing the kinds of things we were doing a few months ago," he said.

"It doesn't matter if you're in a state that has no cases or one case. You have to start taking seriously what you can do now. Everybody should say, 'All hands on deck. This is what we need to do.'"

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday the ban of events with more than 250 people in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties.

The Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer announced that their March 21 match against FC Dallas will be rescheduled for later in the regular season, which ends in early October.

Some California cities and counties have similar bans.

The NBA's Golden State Warriors, who play in San Francisco, won't have any fans at Thursday's game against the Brooklyn Nets, according to league spokesman Mike Bass.

San Francisco is halting group gatherings of 1,000 people or more in an effort to slow the spread of novel coronavirus, Mayor London Breed announced.

Several cities have canceled their St. Patrick's Day parades, including Boston, Dallas, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Savannah, Georgia. Chicago officials called off the parade and said they won't dye the Chicago River green this year.

And several universities have told students on spring break not to return to campus and be ready to take classes online.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a 1-mile "containment" area in the suburb of New Rochelle, where more than 100 residents have been infected.

He's deploying the National Guard to help clean public spaces and deliver food to homes in the suburb of about 80,000 people.

"It is the hot spot in the nation" for coronavirus, Cuomo said.

The rapid outbreak in New Rochelle started with one resident -- an attorney who works in Manhattan. His wife, children and neighbor are among the dozens infected.

The containment protocols, which start Thursday, include closing schools, houses of worship and other large gathering facilities.

The 1-mile radius originates from Temple Young Israel.

People can move freely within the area. Cuomo told CNN "People can come, people can go, there's no limitation on movement, but no large gatherings because the large gatherings are where it spreads."

The protocols end March 25.

More than 1,200 cases are spread across at least 41 states and the District of Columbia.

At least 37 people have died: 29 in Washington state, four in California, two in Florida, one in New Jersey and one in South Dakota.

But the number of confirmed cases is expected to rise significantly because there has been a major backlog in testing. So some people with coronavirus might not even know it.

"We have very little access to testing," Dr. Carlos Del Rio, a professor of medicine and global health at Emory University, said Wednesday.

"I think the lack of access to testing continues to be a barrier to taking care of patients efficiently and rapidly."

Vice President Mike Pence said Monday that another 4 million tests would be available by the end of the week. He said that's on top of at least 1 million tests already in place across the country.

But US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said his department didn't know how many people have been tested.

"We don't know exactly how many, because hundreds of thousands of our tests have gone out to private labs and hospitals that currently do not report" to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Azar said.

He said the government is now working with the CDC to create a reporting system to help "keep track of how many we're testing."

A delay in testing came after the CDC had to remake a part of the testing kits sent to states after some were deemed faulty.

It wasn't until this week that public health labs in all 50 states were able to test for the virus.

Del Rio said the testing difficulties are exacerbating the outbreak.

"There was a lot of failure. There's been a lot of mishap in the developing of tests by the CDC," he said. "Catching up will not be easy."

The cruise industry has been hit hard by coronavirus after outbreaks on at least two ships.

Wednesday, some passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship arrived at the Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia to begin their quarantine.

More than 2,000 passengers will be placed in quarantine at multiple military bases for two weeks. The ship docked this week in Oakland, California, 21 people on board tested positive.

On a sister ship, the Diamond Princess, more than 700 people were infected with coronavirus. At least seven of those patients have since died.

The cruise industry suffered another blow when the Department of State urged Americans to not go on cruises.

"Like many other viruses, Covid-19 appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships," the CDC said.

Pence said the cruise line industry has proposed new measures such as advanced screening and upgraded medical services aboard each ship.

Harvey Weinstein Sentenced to 23 Years in Prison.

Jeremy Barr The Hollywood Reporter

The sentence was handed down by Judge James Burke on Wednesday morning, after emotional testimony by the two primary victims in the conviction.

Harvey Weinstein will spend 23 years in a New York State prison after being sentenced by Supreme Court Judge James Burke on Wednesday morning.

Weinstein was convicted Feb. 24 of committing a Criminal Sexual Act in the first degree and third-degree rape.

The sentencing ends Weinstein's New York trial, which began Jan. 6. His team has said they will appeal the jury's decision to convict him on two of the five charges he faced.

Judge Burke, before issuing his sentence, told Weinstein that he will be formally registered as a sex offender.

For his conviction on the first-degree count of criminal sexual act, Weinstein was given 20 years in prison plus five years of supervised release. On the other convicted charge, third-degree rape, he was given three years in prison.

The judge decided to make the sentences consecutive, rather than concurrent.

Weinstein's attorney Donna Rotunno called the sentencing "obscene" in a press conference outside the court house. "Of course it's too harsh. It's ridiculous," she said, speaking to reporters. "That number was obnoxious. There are murderers who will get out of court faster than Harvey Weinstein will. That number spoke to the pressure of movements in the public, that number did not speak to the evidence that came out in trial. That number did not speak to the testimony that we heard. That number did not speak to evidence, nor did it speak to justice," she said. Adding, "We were looking for fairness and we didn't get it."

Attorney Damon Cheronis echoed, "He wasn't treated fair at all." Arthur Aidala, another Weinstein attorney, said his client will likely spend his time at the Fishkill Correctional Facility in New York, which he said has a hospital.

Rotunno said that Weinstein's team will likely file their appeal, which she previewed, in July. The team said they didn't know when he would be arraigned on the four charges he faces in Los Angeles County.

Prior to his sentencing, Rotunno had told the judge that Weinstein should get a shorter sentence because he has a "long list of illnesses."

"Mr. Weinstein has a multitude of medical issues, there are lists of things that are physically wrong with him and are serious," said Rotunno, reading a letter highlighting his medical issues. "Mr. Weinstein has a history of heart disease in his family. This is a situation that the loss of freedom...will affect his ability to get the type of medical care he will need for the list of issues he is dealing with."

Weinstein had spent 10 days in the hospital, where he underwent a heart procedure, after experiencing high blood pressure and heart palpitations following his Feb. 24 conviction.

Before his sentencing, Weinstein — who opted not to testify during his New York sexual assault trial — addressed the judge. Speaking, in a low voice, of the women who have accused him of misconduct, he said, "I have great remorse for all of you. I have great remorse for all women."

He added, "I really feel remorse for this situation. I feel it deeply in my heart."

Lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi had asked Judge Burke to sentence Weinstein to "the maximum or near the maximum" years in prison, which could have been up to 29 years.

Weinstein's lawyers said that no members of his family attended the sentencing.

Outside the courthouse, attorney Gloria Allred, who represents several of Weinstein's accusers, held up a sign that read: "This Is What Justice Looks Like: 20 + 3 Years."

In response to the sentencing, Tina Tchen, president and CEO of the Time's Up Foundation, issued the following statement: "First and foremost, we are grateful for the courage and strength of Mimi Haleyi, Jessica Mann, Annabella Sciorra, Dawn Dunning, Tarale Wulff, and Lauren Young, who bravely testified in court, and we remain in solidarity with the more than 100 survivors who suffered abuse, harassment, and rape at the hands of Harvey Weinstein. The trauma of sexual assault and harassment is lifelong — we can only hope that today’s sentence brings all of the survivors of Harvey Weinstein some measure of peace."

The statement continued: "We also hope that these women take pride in knowing the impact they have had on our culture at large. Whether by inspiring more survivors to come forward and seek help, changing how the justice system responds to sexual violence, or leading corporate boards to hold more CEOs accountable for toxic workplace culture, the social change catalyzed by these survivors has been nothing short of transformational."

The Silence Breakers — a group of 24 Weinstein accusers that includes Ashley Judd, Lauren Sivan, Rosanna Arquette and Rose McGowan — said in their statement: "Harvey Weinstein's legacy will always be that he's a convicted rapist. He is going to jail — but no amount of jail time will repair the lives he ruined, the careers he destroyed, or the damage he has caused."

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance thanked the court for "imposing a sentence that puts sexual predators and abusive partners in all segments of society on notice" in his statement. Adding, "We thank the survivors for their remarkable statements today and indescribable courage over the last two years. Harvey Weinstein deployed nothing less than an army of spies to keep them silent. But they refused to be silent, and they were heard. Their words took down a predator and put him behind bars, and gave hope to survivors of sexual violence all across the world."

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