Unit 4: Considering the Influence of Light and Thermal Phenomena on Global Climate

VIII. Exploring Internet Resources about Taking Action to Address Climate Change Issues

Becoming aware of what seems to be happening world wide with respect to the impacts of global climate change can be quite sobering. It is helpful also to become aware of what individuals, communities, universities, states, the military, government agencies, and countries can do and are doing to address climate change issues.

Question 4.17 What are some ways to take action?

Explore Internet Resources about what ways to take action:

  • What is the US military doing to study global climate change and take action?
    • Go to https://www.cna.org/cna_files/pdf/MAB_5-8-14.pdf
      (You may have to cut and paste this URL into a browser to get it to work or put CNA Military Advisory Board  National Security and Accelerating Risks of Climate Change in your browser.) Get an overview of this report by scrolling through the pages and reading highlighted sentences to see what is there. Note the military credentials of the authors on page iii and pages 30-35 as well as the experts they consulted on page vi. Select an aspect of the report that is of interest and report briefly on the information provided.
  • What is the US government doing to study climate change and take action?
    • The US Global Change Research Program was established by Presidential Initiative in 1989 and mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act of 1990 to “assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change.” http://www.globalchange.gov
    • See Third National Climate Assessment, http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/ the authoritative and comprehensive report on climate change and its impacts in the United States.
  • How are countries collaborating to study climate change and take action?
    • Explore the website of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at http://www.ipcc.ch/
    • In particular, look at https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/index.shtml (you may need to cut and paste URL into your browser)  “The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) provides a clear and up to date view of the current state of scientific knowledge relevant to climate change.
      Click on: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis
      Scroll down under Report by Chapters to and click on 13. Sea Level Change
      Scroll to Table of Contents, (page 1138) to see what is there.
      Then explore a section or sections that seem of interest to you.  For example, information about contributions to sea level rise can be found on page 1161 and a chart of projected sea level rises for various coastal cities can be found on page 1198.

Critical in these endeavors is the process of engineering design in which people, as individuals as well as participants in institutions, define problems and then develop and optimize solutions. (See Appendix I of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013) at https://www.nextgenscience.org/resources/ngss-appendices .)  Such focused efforts  are necessary both in developing improved ways of documenting what is happening as well as in designing better ways to reduce the causes and impact of increasing global temperatures. Also relevant is understanding the interdependence of science, engineering and technology as well as the influence of engineering, technology and science on society and the natural world. (See Appendix J).

1. Example of student work in reflecting upon exploring Internet resources in class and with a friend or family member

Exploring Internet resources about global climate change:

This information was provided by the Extreme Ice Survey. I thought the information was interesting because it talked about having a voice and getting the word out about climate change. I found the facts he provided would be helpful in talking to someone who doesn’t believe in climate change and may aid someone in that discussion. I also found the facts to be helpful in my learning about climate change because they were short, easy to read facts that made a big statement, for example: Worldwide, hundreds of thousands of people die each year from climate-related stressors. In a short amount of words they present a scary statistic that people shouldn’t ignore.

The agency presenting this information is the California Air Resources Board. This website was very interesting because it suggested many ways as an individual you can help with climate change by doing things you wouldn’t really think of as helping. One that was somewhat surprising to me was washing your clothes in cold water, which is something I usually do anyways to prevent my clothes from shrinking or stretching out. A point it talked about that I found interesting was that these small changes quickly become habit, even though at some point it seemed like it would too much work. The example it used for this was recycling products at your house. When I was younger, we usually threw cans away, and now we always put them in a separate garbage can for recycling and it’s just habit. I think this helped my learning because it used very real life examples that are definitely possible for almost everyone, so it was easy to understand how small changes by everyone can make a big difference.

      This resource from the EPA, which offers tips on what you can change to improve your global impact, is really well organized and super easy to find good information from. In particular, you can choose to see what things you can do at home, at work, on the road, and at school to help climate change. Also, the options to which you can use to change are really simple and helpful options.

I really liked how organized this document was, and how it showed images and had many highlighted and bullet pointed sections. They stated ways to have cleaner air in cities, which included reducing vehicle emissions by creating areas where people can work, live and play within a walkable area, and upgrading municipal fleets to reduce air pollutants.  I really like their idea about making a living space where everything is in walking distance—it got me thinking of ways that entire communities could live in the future where work and home and greenspace were all condensed into a small area.  This could solve a lot of problems and leave more space for trees and wildlife- trees are important for reducing carbon emissions as well. 

The university helps support climate change research while also finding ways to use that research to help people find ways to live and work in their everyday lives. I think this is important to making a difference because not everyone will go out of their way to support the issue, but they will be more likely to do small things at home in their everyday lives if they know it will make a difference.

The state of Oregon partners with multiple agencies to track things like greenhouse gas emissions and how we can reduce them in order to reduce climate change. Oregon also promotes creating electricity with renewable energy instead of materials like coal, which was very interesting to me. By supporting research and trends, Oregon is active in trying to more efficiently create resources for the state in ways that do not harm our atmosphere.

The military discusses climate change as it relates to foreign affairs. They want to work to end climate change as it is a threat to stability of other countries as an aggravated stressor, enabling violence and terrorist activity. Additionally, it is important that the military is protecting our national security rather than responding to human caused natural disasters.

This website includes multiple different kinds of resources and forms of information. I really liked that it included a tab about understanding climate change because I think understanding the issue is the first step in actually taking action. Overall, this website is very organized and leads me to believe that the US government is taking part in lessoning the effects of climate change not only on our country but on the world as well. This piece of information was specifically surprising to me: “U.S. average temperature has increased by 1.3°F to 1.9°F since 1895, and most of this increase has occurred since 1970. The most recent decade was the Nation’s and the world’s hottest ever recorded, and 2012 was the hottest year on record in the continental United States. Temperatures are projected to rise another 2°F to 4°F in most areas of the U.S. over the next few decades.”

“Each IPCC Member country has a Focal Point which has been identified by the relevant authorities in the country. IPCC Focal Points prepare and update the list of national experts to help implement the IPCC work programme. The Focal Points also arrange for the provision of integrated comments on the accuracy and completeness of the scientific and/or technical content and the overall scientific and/or technical balance of drafts of reports.” I found this piece of information from the website discussing how countries interact with one another. By giving leaders of each country a specific role, those tasks are more likely to be completed than if there was no communication or designated roles.

 Physics students, Winter 2018

 

  • Engaging friend(s) and/or family member(s) in learning about the science underlying claims about global climate change.

I engaged my roommate in learning about the underlying claims of global climate change. I started by asking her what she knew about climate change in general. She admitted that she had heard a lot of kind of jokes about climate change and the occasional tweet here and there, but had never taken the time to actually look into the issue.

 I explained to her a couple of the things we had learned in class so far such as greenhouse gas emissions, rising sea levels, and rising temperatures and why each of these are important. I then asked her about each one of the topics such as what do you think OSU, the state of Oregon, the US government, and the nation as a whole does to prevent climate change? We explored the sites I mentioned above together. She specifically thought the one focused on the efforts of the U.S. government was interesting because it gave her a lot of definitions, general information, news reports and many more resources, which provides multiple different perspectives. By reviewing this website she was also convinced that the issue is indeed important and is worth taking the time to research and do small things at home such as save energy and travel efficiently.

I liked discussing this because I felt like I was teaching someone about something that really does matter and is important. This makes me believe that putting the time and effort into science lessons can have not only a positive impact on the learner but on the world. I think this connects with the NGSS science and engineering practice constructing explanations and designing solutions because by doing research, we are able to understand and explain the phenomena to some extent and then come up with a solution based off of the knowledge previously gained. This also correlates to the cross cutting concept of cause and effect because the way we live and use energy causes the greenhouse gasses that affect the atmosphere.

Physics student, Winter 2018

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Exploring Physical Phenomena by Emily Van Zee & Elizabeth Gire is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.