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Every April, the world celebrates Earth Day with activities, concerts, tree-planting parties, clean-up events, and many different kinds of programs meant to engage people with the important work of the care and keeping of our planet.
And every year, Earth Day feels more and more critical. That’s because the climate is changing quickly in ways that are affecting the human population at a noticeable scale, and not many steps are being taken to try and curb it. From atmospheric carbon levels that are higher now than at any point in at least the last 800,000 years, to the 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit (.9 degrees Celsius) the planet’s surface temperature has risen since the late nineteenth century, to the 8 inches the global sea levels rose in the last century, the earth is stressed. And so should we be.
So, as we celebrate the earth this April, let’s focus on how to help it. Children all around the world have been protesting the industrial and political complexes that have aggravated human-driven climate change, and they are our best hope for securing a healthy future for all species. Let’s start a conversation!
A guest article by Nomad Press authors Erin Twamley and Joshua Sneideman
With COP21 just ending with the first ever Global Climate deal, the time to #ActOnClimate is now!
More than 200 world leaders, including oil-rich countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, have agreed to #ActOnClimate for a better future. Some of the world’s richest people, led by Bill Gates, are agreeing to invest billions of their own capital in renewable technologies in an endeavor called the Breakthrough Energy Coalition. Around the world, nearly 100 billion dollars are being invested by the Green Climate Fund, a group of 100 countries, including the United States and China, who are the two biggest carbon emitters in the world, pledging to make drastic greenhouse gas reductions by 2030. All of these actions are helping us reduce our fossil fuel consumption and carbon future!
Now, what the world needs more than ever is for individuals to #ActOnClimate. Why? Because just like Earth Day Network encourages, a billion individual acts of green can add up to a powerful change. We must let our voices echo. Join the movement! Your voice is important!
Use stories about innovation to start a positive climate change conversation. Have you ever seen an invention that just blew your mind? Some things are so cool and futuristic they make you go, “Wow!” Share that with others. Was it an electric car or a massive wind farm? The inventions we see on TV, movies, and in everyday life are helping to change our planet
Take a snapshot. Show people how climate change is impacting you, your family, friends, and community. Photos can often send a quick and powerful message. Make sure you capture positive images like those awesome inventions you see.
Read other perspectives. Climate change impacts communities around the world. But the ways it impacts us might look different. Look for areas that are impacted today. See for yourself that climate change is happening now. It is important to read and learn about what communities are doing about climate change, from Brazil to Norway and even China.
#Youth4Climate. Join the movement online (with permission of an adult of course!). Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are all good places to engage with youth about climate change. Make sure to keep it positive and use hashtags like: #Youth4Climate #climatechange #cop21 #globalwarming #parisagreement
Act local. It is a big world out there. But what you do in your home, school, and community can make a difference. Walk or ride your bike to school (with permission of an adult of course!). Do an energy survey in your school or home to find out how much you are actually using and find ways to lower it.
Josh Sneideman and Erin Twamley are authors of two books for middle school students: Climate Change: Discover How it Impacts Spaceship Earth and Renewable Energy – Discover the Fuel of the Future.
Here in New England, it was a cold winter. Really cold. And there was a lot of snow!
Why is it so cold if the earth is warming at an unprecedented rate? Does this week’s frigid temperatures mean there’s no such thing as climate change?
No. The vast majority of scientists around the globe agree that climate change is a very real problem. We are still grappling with climate change and a warming earth, even as we wrap layers around our heads and cut our sledding time by half.
It’s important to understand that there’s a difference between weather and climate. Weather is what we experience in the short term. A snowy day, a rainy afternoon, a sunny morning. These are all examples of weather, and we can predict the coming weather a few days out (though often the predictions are wrong!).
Climate is the study of weather patterns during a much longer period of time. Years instead of weeks. The year 2016 was the hottest year on record, even though during that year we had some very cold days.
It can be tempting to pull on your coat, hat, gloves, extra socks, and boots and think, “Phew, glad that global warming crisis is over!” as you head out into the cold, but unfortunately, that’s not how it works.
Earth is still experiencing a general warming trend. You can see in this gif from NASA that our average temperatures are getting higher and higher every year. https://climate.nasa.gov/climate_resources/101/video-global-temperature-variation/
One result of climate change is an increase in instances of extreme weather, such as hurricanes, snowstorms, flooding, wildfires, and arctic temperatures. So, the super cold weather we’re dealing with up North is actually a symptom of climate change, not an indicator that climate change is “fake news.”
It’s especially important for young people to recognize the difference between weather and climate! They are going to be the future scientists and politicians finding ways to combat global warming as we move forward and implement solutions to the problem of climate change.
Need some discussion questions for your classroom?
Spring is a great time of year to take your students outside for some life science observations! All around us, buds are forming, flowers are beginning to bloom, vegetable gardens are being planted, and the trees are exploding into green. Take advantage.
If you are able, getting your kids outside to experience life science in its natural habitat is a terrific experience. Not every classroom is able to do this, but those that can have an opportunity to help kids connect their own lives to the natural world around them. Even 15 minutes of quiet observation can have an impact.
And by encouraging students to spend time outside, you are helping them form attachments to nature that can translate to caring about climate change. Sometimes, simply seeing and noticing the effects of global warming can spur people to become concerned citizens work to solve climate change issues.
Here are a few things to try while outside with students:
– Have everyone stand in place and shut their eyes. After a minute of quiet, everyone can open their eyes and discuss these questions:
– Have everyone choose one natural thing to examine. This could be a tree, a rock, a puddle, an insect—there are lots of choices! Have them draw their observations. How much detail can they include in their drawing?
– Bird nest hunt! Look up in the branches of trees and search for clumps of leaves, twigs, and grasses. Do you see birds going to and from the nest? Are they carrying anything in their beaks? That could be food for babies in the nest! What kinds of birds can you observe? Do they make any sound?
We’ve all heard that fun fact about how the water you drink today could be the same water a dinosaur drank millions of years ago. In fact, there’s always the chance that the water you drink could be—dinosaur pee!
It’s true that there’s a finite amount of water no matter what we do. The amount of water on Earth will always remain the same. We can’t run out of water because water continuously works its way through the water cycle. It’s a renewable resource.
(Check out this Crash Course video to follow the path of water from stream to dinosaur pee to George Washington’s sweat to you! https://nerdfighteria.info/v/o_bbQ0m3wuM/)
But if the amount of water on earth stays the same forever, why should we conserve water? Why are places such as Cape Town, South Africa, suffering from an extreme lack of water?
Water moves through the water cycle, and each stage of the water cycle takes different amounts of time to complete. That means, water can sometimes be hard to access. Water spends a very brief amount of time as rain or snow, but water in lakes can take decades to cycle through. Water in oceans or trapped in glaciers takes even longer, up to thousands of years!
Water fall can vary widely even in the same state. Take California for example. When it rains there, 75 percent of the rain falls in the northern part of the state, while 75 percent of water demand is in the southern part of the state, where the farms are located.
So, in areas of little or no precipitation, water becomes almost non-renewable. Once the water is used up, it doesn’t return for a long, long time.
This is why we need to think as a global community and conserve!
10 Easy Ways to Conserve Water!
What are your go-to water conservation ideas?
A guest post by Erin Twamley, coauthor of Renewable Energy: Discover the Fuel of the Future
Let the games begin! Welcome to the Renewable Energy Olympics. Imagine if every four years, renewable energy technologies came together to compete in variety of energy competitions. The Renewable Energy Olympics could bring nations from around the world together to compete for a healthy planet.
Can you name the 5 rings of the renewable energy olympics? The five interlocking Olympic rings are: yellow for the sun, black for wind, blue for water, green for biomass, and red for geothermal. The rings are interconnected because we are striving for a single shared goal; a cleaner future.
The book Renewable Energy: Discover the Fuel of the Future explores our global use of renewable power that dates back centuries, just like the Olympics. From wind propelling boats along the Nile River in Egypt 5,000 years ago to concentrating the sun to light fires. humans have been using renewable energy for a long time. Since the seventh century BCE, we have been using renewable energy sources without even knowing we were “green.” The hot springs in Arkansas, a tourist favorite, are generated by geothermal energy! Hot springs have been used to wash clothes, bathe, and cook for more than 10,000 years in North America.
With all that history, there is still the need for expanding our renewable future! Read the book to learn just how powerful the sun is—
And what about today? We receive more energy from the sun every day than the whole world could use in a year, and scientists are developing more efficient ways of harnessing that energy. Energy from the ocean waves can create power for cities and town, and farmers, scientists, and engineers are developing biofuels from algae, creating new types of liquid fuel for our transportation needs. From the Earth’s inner core to the winds that blow around the globe, renewable energy is here to stay. The time is now to stop relying so heavily on burning fossil fuels that cause pollution and climate change.
What renewable energies do you use?
June 8 is World Oceans Day! But in reality, every day should be World Oceans Day.
Do you live near the ocean? Do you live far inland? Whether you’re on the coast or gazing at a desert, the ocean affects you. It’s because of the ocean that our world is habitable—without it, there would be no life! That’s why we need to take care of our oceans and make sure they’re healthy for a long time to come. The best way to celebrate World Oceans Day is by doing your part to make a difference.
What can you do to take care of the world’s oceans?