Today is Blog Action Day 2009, billed as the largest, single, social event on the web. This years topic is “Climate Change”, a topic I have keen interest and passionate concern about. I first heard the term ‘global warming’ twenty years ago, as an undergraduate at LaTrobe University. Back then, the research was just beginning and the results weren’t conclusive – scientists are cautious by nature. Now, ‘climate change’ is a term we hear in the media every day and an issue being addressed at every level of government and in most private enterprises.
“New Scientist” has produced an excellent page to help you understand the facts of climate change at: “Instant Expert: Climate Change”. Since the Earth Summit in 1992 and Kyoto in 1997, many countries have agreed to limit greenhouse gas emissions, in an attempt to reduce the enhanced greenhouse effect. In 2007 the IPCC announced that global climate change is “very likely” to have a human cause. In 2009, many thousands of scientists around the world agree that an increase in temperature of more than 2 degrees Celcius will have catastrophic effects on agriculture, biodiversity and water resources, as well as increasing the frequency of extreme weather events. The east coast of Australia experienced such an extreme weather event a few weeks ago, when an estimated 140,000 tonnes of soil per hour was collected from central Australia and dumped on the coast and offshore. This dust actually had an ocean-fertilizing effect – adding nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphoros to the ocean that enabled increased phytoplankton growth. It has been estimated that an extra eight million tonnes of CO2 was captured by this phytoplankton. Mother Nature fighting back?
Which of the objects above could you use in a probability experiment to simulate the birth of a boy or girl? How would you calculate the theoretical probability of three girls in a row? Draw a tree diagram to show all the possible combinations of three children.
Go to the Probability Voicethread at http://voicethread.com/share/222931/ and add your answers to the problems shown.
Ten Year 7 students are very excited to be participating in the Junior Landcare Conference in Lorne next week. These students have beeen preparing a presentation for six weeks about the effects of global warming. They have created a 40 minute news, quiz and current affairs program, 50 years into the future, when fresh water is scarce, sea levels are rising, temperatures are increasing, biodiversity is at risk and humans are threatened by their own toxic wastes. The multimedia program includes student-produced advertisements and ‘info-mercials’ as well as a “Who wants to be a millionaire?”-style quiz to test how much the audience have learnt.
Over billions of years, since the earth was formed in a “Big Bang” and life began to evolve 4.5 billion years ago, our planet has gone through dramatic and dynamic changes. These changes have occurred in the oceans (rises and falls of sea level), the continents (moving due to continental drift and changing due to earthquakes, volcanoes, weathering and erosion) and in the atmosphere (changing concentrations of gases, El Nino and climate change).
Your assessment task for this unit of work is to write a postcard from the distant past to the present day. Imagine you have been transported back in time (tell me how far back) and you are writing “Back to the Future”. You are to describe one of the following examples of change on earth:
- Earthquakes – different types, how they occur and what happens as a result
- Volcanoes – different types and what happens when they erupt
- Cave formation (eg at Mt Eccles or Naracoorte)
- Sea level changes – How and why do we find marine fossils far inland?
- Continental drift – how the continents move and the evidence for this.
- Rock Cycle (sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous)
- Climate change (many ice ages in the past, deserts formed and tropical forests grew)
- Evolution of life (species have evolved and become extinct)
Make sure you have a relevant picture on one side of the post card and describe how the earth has changed since the distant past. You need to include the climate, geology and the life on earth at that time.
National Geographic has an excellent interactive Prehistoric Timeline for you to use to research your specific time period.
Reece Rushing and Sarah Dreier have produced an interactive world map that provides scientific information about the threats faced in different parts of the world due to rising global temperatures. Scientists project more frequent and severe natural disasters, including hurricanes, floods, droughts, and wildfires; the spread of infectious disease such as the West Nile virus; rising sea levels that could wipe out coastal cities and towns; and declines in crop production and fish catches.
The map is compiled from a variety of sources, and plots this information geographically to show areas of concern. To view this information, select the desired category or categories from the key beside the map. This will display icons on the map in locations where scientific research indicates there may be problems. Click on an icon and a box will appear providing relevant data, as well as the source for the data.
These children are from the Carteret islands, a few hundred kilometers north east of Papua New Guinea. “The Carteret Islanders are amongst the world’s first ‘environmental refugees’. An entire cultural group is facing relocation due to the impacts of climate change. The islanders have fought for more than twenty years against the rising ocean, building sea walls and planting mangroves. However, storm surges and high tides continue to wash away homes, destroy vegetable gardens, and contaminate fresh water supplies. On November 24, 2005, the Papua New Guinean government authorised the evacuation of the islands, 10 families at a time, to Bougainville. The evacuation started in early 2007 and this could continue up until 2020, depending on how inhabited the islands remain. It has been estimated that by 2015, the Carteret Islands could be largely submerged and entirely uninhabitable. Carteret Islanders are on the frontline of climate change.” You can find out more at: http://www.tulelepeisa.org/
You are invited to the Café Regal (Warrnambool, Victoria) on Sunday December 14th at 3pm for a public forum where Ms Ursula Rakova, spokesperson for the Carterets community, will share the story of her family and their home. Gold coin donation kindly requested.
Helen Lane, trained by Al Gore to deliver the Climate Project presentation, attended Hawkesdale P12 College today and spoke to over 100 of our students from year 6 to year 12. She presented the most up-to-date scientific data about carbon dioxide concentrations and corresponding temperature increases as well as amazing images of our beautiful planet. She was one of the 170 people sponsored by the Australian Consevation Foundation to spend two days with the ex-vice president of the US, learning about climate change. Helen spoke about how climate change may affect us and our children in the future and how we, as individuals, can make a difference.