Category Archives: Climate Education

UCLA Launches Climate Lab

Climate Lab,” a new six-episode video series produced by the University of California and the news website Vox, will explore global climate change and researchers’ groundbreaking work to mitigate its effects. The first episode, which will feature UCLA environmental economist Magali Delmas, airs today.

Hosted by conservation scientist and UCLA visiting researcher M. Sanjayan, the “Climate Lab” series delves into unexpected solutions to climate change and features eye-opening conversations with experts, scientists, thought leaders and activists from UC and other institutions as they discuss everything from clean energy to food, religion and smartphones.

Guardian Expands Climate and Environmental Reporting

The Guardian recently announced it had added more reporters to its environmental news desk, citing climate change as the most important story of the age.

Here’s a clip from editor Jonathan Watts:

So why am I going back into full-time, specialised environmental reporting? Because it is the most important story of our age. China led me to suspect that global economic growth had run into an ecological wall, which is the underlying source of stress and conflict in the world. When I moved to Latin America, I hoped to find alternative, less destructive paths of development, but there was a part of me that also felt I was running away from my own conclusions. The new post will take me back.

The responsibility is huge. The timing is crucial. Brexit was a vote against globalisation. Trump is waging war on the environment. To counter these trends, the Guardian has devoted more resources to its environment coverage. I am looking forward to being a part of an expanded team, but we have a tough act to follow. Brown, Vidal, George Monbiot, Damian Carrington and other present and former colleagues have been pioneers in this field with agenda-setting coverage and comment. Trying to maintain that quality, ambition and influence – while looking for new approaches to changing situations – will be a hard but worthwhile task.

As to the task that humanity faces, I think the problem and the solution are environmental. The world’s current concerns – rising nationalism, swelling migration, financial instability, worsening inequality and lack of confidence in governance systems – are to varying degrees caused by insecurity and fear about the future. Underlying that is an awareness (conscious or unconscious) that our current path of capital-and-carbon-driven development is wrecking our home planet, running down resources, devastating other species and building up environmental costs that are increasingly difficult to offload on distant countries and coming generations. We have to pay a bill that has been run up over centuries and it feels as if we are broke. But that is misleading. There is still plenty left if we manage it well and share it more fairly.

We need to reconsider what is important, what is worth paying for and how decisions are being made. At a national level, why are we devoting so much public money to subsidise fossil fuels that are destroying the climate? Why are most politics determined by four-, five- or six-year electoral cycles that suit the markets but not the long-term interests of voters? Why do our economic systems make it cheaper to dump plastic in the oceans than recycle? Why do traditional beliefs of some countries encourage the slaughter of endangered animals or denial of climate science? Why are forests worth less than cropland? Why do we continue to prioritise material growth when it increasingly leads to obesity, cancer, conflict and instability?

Upcoming Urban Forestry Renewal Interview

My first interview will be with Michael Dugan, the Forestry Coordinator of Openlands. The organization is a Chicago based non-profit working to renew urban ecology through the simple act of planting trees, an act which also not only builds greener communities, but also unites communities.

I would like to explore the social justice implications of urban forestry initiatives and connect this to the notion of a larger, nation-wide reforestation initiative and how this could resonate within the American consciousness.

Is planting a tree a revolutionary act? I think so, but I’d like to hear what a person who does it for a living thinks.

 

Uncharted Territory: WHO Warns on Climate Change

The Guardian reported on the World Health Organization’s report recent assessment of record temperatures in 2016 and implications for the future. “Even without a strong El Niño in 2017, we are seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system. We are now in truly uncharted territory,” said David Carlson, director of the WMO’s world climate research programme.

Here’s a clip:

2016 saw the hottest global average among thermometer measurements stretching back to 1880. But scientific research indicates the world was last this warm about 115,000 years ago and that the planet has not experienced such high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for 4m years.

2017 has seen temperature records continue to tumble, in the US where February was exceptionally warm, and in Australia, where prolonged and extreme heat struck many states. The consequences have been particularly stark at the poles.

“Arctic ice conditions have been tracking at record low conditions since October, persisting for six consecutive months, something not seen before in the [four-decade] satellite data record,” said Prof Julienne Stroeve, at University College London in the UK. “Over in the southern hemisphere, the sea ice also broke new record lows in the seasonal maximum and minimum extents, leading to the least amount of global sea ice ever recorded.”

American Forests: North American Forests in the Age of Man

American Forests is a non-profit working towards the reforestation of woodlands both nationally and globally. Though, their “Community Releaf” program is where they shine. With these green endeavors, the organization “aims to bring national attention to the value of our urban forests and reaches geographically distributed and culturally diverse communities across the United States.”

Their community inclined projects typically work to restore tree canopies in urban areas. With their project in Oakland, they intersect social justice with ecological justice.

Here’s an excerpt from a report on the matter:

“Several studies have found correlations between city trees and public health in neighborhoods with low tree canopy — increased respiratory illness, particularly among children and senior citizens, and more incidents of diabetes and heart disease. In terms of psychosocial benefits, a lack of access to green space can negatively impact mental well-being and stress levels, the latter a foreboding allusion to the potential climate change risks highlighted in the recent IPCC report.

Recognizing that tree canopy can be an important factor in understanding and addressing income disparity and supporting sustainable development — both environmentally and economically — a recent study by American Forests examined tree canopy by Oakland council district in correlation with several demographic and socioeconomic factors, including income, poverty rate, unemployment rate, population and age. The information that was derived can help identify the districts where additional trees can provide the greatest positive impacts for communities.”

They have also published a digestible history on the American forest since human civilization has taken root. Here’s a look:

“Human impacts, from colonial times to the present, have drastically changed not just the size, but the nature of American forests, whether you consider the baseline for what is natural to be 1492 CE or 15,000 BP.

The trees in mature forests are adapted to soil characteristics, light intensities and moisture levels created by the forest’s species themselves. Remove these species, and all those factors change. The resulting forest is now composed of pioneer species — those first to grow in a tree-less location, like aspen, birch and alder. The old-growth forest species must wait until the pioneer species recreate their required soil, light and moisture conditions to reemerge. Similar changes in forest composition are created by natural events such as fires and wind storms, and the mature forest regenerates naturally. The difference is that most managed forests today are harvested so frequently that they never reach the optimal conditions for the species that prefer mature conditions. Instead of a complex, old-growth structure of multi-layered canopies with a spectrum of young to ancient trees and tree fall gaps, decaying down wood, standing dead trees and high species diversity, forests today have relatively young, dense, even-aged and even-canopied stands of fewer species.

Simply replanting trees does not always mean the forest has returned. In places where timber companies have replanted with native trees — whether in rows on a plantation or less orderly in wilder areas — the new forest is a monoculture of commercial species that lacks most of the biodiversity associated with the original forest. Smaller patches of forest, or forest fragmentation, has also reduced forest biodiversity because the smaller fragments cannot support wide-ranging wildlife species. In addition, the small, isolated populations of other species, including some trees, are more susceptible to local extinction.”

Amazing Space in Cedar Rapids

Nice profile on Cedar Rapids’ Amazing Place building at the Indian Creek Nature Center in Tech Republic.

Here’s a clip:

“Nature, science, and facts are non-partisan,” said Indian Creek Nature Center executive director John Myers. “Technology is an extension of nature. The two not only interoperate, tech and the environment complement each other.”

Science and technology are also good for business. The Indian Creek Nature Center (ICNC) is Iowa’s only private nonprofit nature center. The organization’s headquarters and new Amazing Space “living building” is an energy NetZero facility nestled in a grove of oak trees on the edge of a sloping prairie dotted with both wildflowers and solar panels. The new building is a 12,000-square-foot environmental education center, Myers explained, and is “under certification by the International Living Future Institute to become a Living Building. This certification is far beyond LEED standards and focuses on truly sustainable practices that restore, not degrade the environment.”

Indigenous Iowa breaks ground on Earth Mother Camp, an environmentally progressive think tank

Indeigenous activist Cheryl Angel speaks at the site of the new Earth Mother Camp. Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. — photo by Zak Neumann.

Indigenous Iowa, a social and environmental justice organization rooted in indigenous culture, welcomed the first visitors to the Earth Mother Community Education Camp near Williamsburg, Iowa on Sunday, Feb. 26.

The ceremony began with a song to welcome water protectors from Oceti Sakowin, a camp at Standing Rock, North Dakota resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Cedric Goodhouse was

invited to start the ceremonial fire, setting positive intentions for the camp. There were speeches by Oceti Sakowin, Indigenous Iowa and Meskwaki speakers at the ceremony.

Click here to read the full article.

Dawson Davenport Project Idea 2017

I was thinking about creating a cartoon, in the meskwaki language. (subtitled in english) The story would be about the environment, possibly a meskwaki story. There are many reasons i want to do this. one is that i would be able to work with my old job, the meskwaki language department, and theyd be thrilled that im doing this. another reason is because i want to give it to the school as a donation, and to possibly make this something long term, so that i can use it to help teach our language and also teach the children about the environment and environment issues. There are so many educational components that would come of this, as well as preserving my language. The idea I had was along the lines of Dora the Explorer. Have words of the day, for example, tree; or what type of tree it is. Or things like why trees are important and its role with oxygen. I am sure there are many meskwaki stories that can be taught as well, as our culture and traditions sometimes are connected to nature. Like planting and gardening. The possibilities are endless. And i think that this project can teach everyone as well.