Do you make it a regular practice to care for the environment? If so, what do you do? If not, why?
The first Earth Day celebration was held on April 20, 1970. Its founder, Senator Gaylord Nelson, developed the idea over a seven-year period after he realized that political leaders were not making environmental issues a priority. Senator Nelson began a massive grassroots effort among his colleagues and in local communities. Twenty million people participated in the first Earth Day. They became part of a change that continues today.
Why does ocean acidification matter? What role can you play?
Over the past one hundred years or so, the ocean has absorbed the carbon dioxide (CO₂) released into the environment from burning fossil fuels. Absorbing these emissions makes our oceans more acidic. This change in the ocean’s pH level is called ocean acidification. As the pH levels change, we face increasing threats to our ocean health, marine life and even our economy (i.e. industries such as fisheries and tourism).
One of the most harmful effects of ocean acidification is a decrease in marine organisms’ ability to grow structures like skeletons and shells. Corals are especially under attack; higher acidity slows their growth and makes their skeletons weaker. Since coral reefs are home to at least a quarter of all marine species, losing such a habitat would have drastic effects for our global food chain.
Though ocean acidification is a relatively new topic of discussion for scientists, it has caught the attention of several groups around the world to speak and act in support of our oceans. In an article in Scientific American, Virginia Gewin writes, “Washington State, a leading U.S. producer of farmed shellfish, has launched a $3.3-million, science-based plan to address this growing problem for the region and the globe.” There are other actions and studies taking place in the scientific community as well. The Science Daily writes that at Stanford University, scientists are seeking the sea urchin's secret to surviving ocean acidification.
How much of a threat does ocean acidification have on our ecosystem and food chain?
Multimedia as a tool can enhance and strengthen the impact of activities in the field and in the science classroom. PBS LearningMedia videos, audio and interactives engage students and can be used to effectively demonstrate science concepts as well as to reinforce media literacy technologies as part of a core science curriculum. Here are 7 reasons (with resource examples) to intergrate PBS LearningMedia into science curriculum.
1.Visually demonstrate scientific ideas and concepts
Cell Membrane: Just Passing ThroughThis interactive feature illustrates the movement of some materials through the cell membrane and describes the structures that make it possible.
Newton's Laws of MotionIn this video from KQED's QUEST, a scientist demonstrates how Newton's three laws of motion affect all movement in the universe.
California recently implemented a cap-and-trade program in order to cut carbon emissions. Would a carbon tax be better or worse? What do you think about cap-and-trade? How can companies be best regulated to reduce greenhouse gas pollution?
Since the Industrial Revolution, there has been a substantial increase in carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. and countries around the world. The increase is due to human activities, namely the burning of fossil fuels for energy and transportation, industry processes and land-use changes. The additional carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) in the atmosphere trap heat and cause the Earth's surface temperatures to rise, also known as the greenhouse effect. To combat climate change, scientists have said that we need to cut our greenhouse gas emissions.
Last month, California launched its cap-and-trade program. In this program, the government sets a limit on the total amount of allowable carbon emissions from businesses, refineries, manufacturers and power plants. This limit will decline 2-3% each year. Major emitters of greenhouse gases must get permits, known as allowances, for each ton of carbon they emit. Initially, businesses receive most of the allowances from the state for free. Over time, the state also auctions allowances to the highest bidders. As the overall cap on emissions is lowered each year, businesses must continue to obtain allowances equal to their emissions. They can buy unused emission allowances from other companies, or they can sell emission allowances that they may have leftover. So, a company that isn't ready to cut its carbon emissions enough to meet its allowance can buy emissions from other companies that can reduce their emissions.
What role do you think climate change played in Hurricane Sandy?
During the last few days of October 2012, Hurricane Sandy brought heavy rains, tropical-storm-force winds, and record storm surges to much of the East Coast. This resulted in severe flooding, loss of power for millions of people, and the destruction of numerous homes, buildings and other structures in New York, New Jersey and other eastern states. The total economic damage by the storm is estimated to be $30-50 billion.
Scientists say that climate change has led to an average global rise in sea level of about eight inches over the past century. Expansion of the ocean water (from warming) and the melting of land-based ice are the two major reasons for the rise. A higher sea level means that storm surges become a bigger problem, causing more damage to coastal communities. Ocean water is able to reach further inland, leading to increased flooding, loss of life and widespread power outages, as witnessed during Hurricane Sandy.
Warm ocean water is a key factor in the occurrence of hurricanes. Hurricanes get their energy from the warm, moist air over ocean waters near the equator. Climate change has led to an average increase in the temperature of the oceans, due to a rise in heat-trapping greenhouse gases. According to the New York Times, several scientists said that during the last week in October, when Hurricane Sandy occurred, parts of the western Atlantic Ocean were as much as five degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal, which could have increased the intensity of the hurricane.