Wilfredo Lee, File/AP

The world's third-largest barrier reef, along the Florida Keys, is in imminent danger from climate change, The Washington Post reports. The economy in the Keys faces a direct threat as a result.

Only 10% of the 360-mile-long Florida Reef Tract contains living coral today. In 2014 and 2015, the reefs experienced massive bleaching events — when heat stress alters the key metabolic functions of corals, ultimately killing them. Scientists believe that by 2020, the reefs will experience bleaching events annually as the water temperatures continue to rise.

The Florida Keys' economy is dependent on tourism and a healthy reef. Nearly 4 million people visit yearly, fueling a $2.7 billion economy centered on the coral reef ecosystem, according to Monroe County data. The tourism industry accounts for over half the region's jobs.

What's being done to save the reefs? The Coral Restoration Foundation is implanting endangered corals across the reef. The foundation's science program manager explained to The Post that after six months of monitoring them in nurseries, the coral can be taken to the reefs. It remains to be seen if the implanted species can withstand the imminent climate change.

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Over 73 million people watched the first debate on TV

Data: Nielsen; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 73.1 million people watched the first presidential debate on television on Tuesday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

Why it matters: While that's a sizable audience for any American TV program, it's down more than 13% from the record number of TV viewers who tuned in for the first debate of the 2016 election. The chaotic nature of the debate and the overall uncertainty around this year's election may have pushed some viewers away.

Senate passes bill funding government through December

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation to fund the federal government through Dec. 11, by a vote of 84-10.

Where it stands: The legislation will avert a government shutdown before funding expires Wednesday night and before the Nov. 3 election. The House passed the same measure last week by a vote of 359-57 after House Democrats and the Trump administration agreed on the resolution.

  • Both sides agreed early in negotiations that the bill should be a "clean" continuing resolution — meaning each party would only make small changes to existing funding levels so the measure would pass through both chambers quickly, Axios' Alayna Treene reported last week. The bill now goes to President Trump for his signature.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
1 hour ago - Technology

The age of engineering life begins

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Synthetic biology startups raised some $3 billion through the first half of 2020, up from $1.9 billion for all of 2019, as the field brings the science of engineering to the art of life.

The big picture: Synthetic biologists are gradually learning how to program the code of life the way that computer experts have learned to program machines. If they can succeed — and if the public accepts their work — synthetic biology stands to fundamentally transform how we live.