Understanding Climate Change
What is happening? The greenhouse gas story.
Why is it happening? Where does greenhouse gas pollution come from?
CSIRO research graph on greenhouse gas levels
Soils are at risk of leaking 'old carbon' back into the atmosphere in a high-emissions world.
The amount of carbon sequestered by the delicate roots of plants remains hugely uncertain, suggests a new study.
Forests – Just a timber resource or something more? Forest values
The experiment, today known as the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project, found that the most seriously degraded forest with the least diversity were the smallest, one- hectare reserves, while the reserves that retained the most diversity were the ones of the largest area. In the smaller reserves, drying winds reached the interior, affecting tree species and resulting in more tree falls. Gaps in the canopy allowed more sunlight to reach the forest floor, further altering the understory microclimate and causing changes in the makeup of resident species. Larger herbivores left the patches since the limited number of trees could not provide sustenance, soon followed by predators, which could not cope with the loss of prey. The loss of predators caused an imbalance in the food chain, and the populations of small herbivores and omnivores increased, adding pressure on forest seed banks and impairing the reproducing ability of forest trees. Troops of army ants could not be supported by meager forest patches and they too left, along with the bird, butterfly, and other insect species that depended on the troop. Shade- loving plants and animal species died off as more sunlight penetrated the diminished canopy, and "gap" species, like vines and certain bird and insect species, proliferated. These losses continued to set off a chain reaction that caused profound changes in the system, eventually resulting in its collapse.
Do deserts play a part? New research shows deserts exchange carbon dioxide at a rate similar to that of forests.
Weeping for Water an excellent summary of the world's current water problem
By Garda Ghista
Press article from The Scotsman in 2002 warns of glacial melting evidence
Potable Water- Ockham's Razor 15th June 2008. Through the issue of recycled water in Toowoomba N.S.W, Emma Pratt demonstrates how the public react to their perception of scientific evidence.
"The Gangotri glacier, the principal glacier that feeds The Ganges River is melting at an accelerated rate and could disappear entirely in a matter of decades" Lester Brown Read Plan B 3.0 Ch1 "Entering a New World"
The Andes (NB Bolivia)
"When Ice Turns to Water"- article from The Economist July 12th 2007
The future for the millions of people dependant on these rivers.
Wind, rain, storms and droughts – The effects of global warming.
Why are there more cyclones?
Potential changes in tropical cyclone occurrence and intensity are discussed in detail in the 2007 report, Climate Change in Australia, Technical Report - Chapter 5: Regional climate change projections (8.9MB) See: Chapter 5.9.1 Severe weather: Tropical cyclones. There is substantial evidence from theory and model experiments that the large-scale environment in which tropical cyclones form and evolve is changing as a result of greenhouse warming. Projected changes in tropical cyclones are subject to the sources of uncertainty inherent in climate change projections. These include errors in the modelled tropical cyclone climatology and regional patterns and magnitude of change for various fields and climate patterns such as ENSO. Consequently there is large uncertainty in the future change in tropical cyclone frequency projected by climate models.
Whose water is it anyway? Moral issues.
Growing deserts. Shrinking seas.- an article to stimulate discussion from The Earth Policy Institute.
Dams. Risks, benefits, limitations, and consequences.
By damming rivers, humans have masked the full extent of surging sea levels, a new study finds.
Loss of fertile deltas.
Climate Change in Delta Regions The effects of intensive urbanisation. There are some excellent points made in the section of this document in the section headed Ten Golden Rules
Distribution and importance of coral reefs and the probable effects of climate change.
Seeding the ocean surface with iron could hold promise for storing carbon dioxide in the deep sea
Engineered storage of carbon dioxide deep in the ocean has been suggested as a way of mitigating climate change, but some anthropogenic carbon dioxide has already begun to make its way to the ocean floor naturally.
A new study, based on real-world observations, supports the predictions of climate models that the ocean will become oxygen-depleted as a consequence of global warming.
Computer models of climate change have overstated Antarctic warming, say scientists.
By 2050, there will be an estimated 9 billion humans on the planet. Kerri Smith asks whether curbing the world's burgeoning population could help in tackling climate change.
Site map of The Murray Darling Basin Commission
A rising population requiring more resources, exacerbated by a desire for affluence.- article by Kellie Tranter , a lawyer and political commentator. She is Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Legislation for BPW International
Population growth, population control. -By 2050, there will be an estimated 9 billion humans on the planet. Kerri Smith asks whether curbing the world's burgeoning population could help in tackling climate change.
Health care. State programs – Chinese 1 child policy.
With warming expected to worsen public health problems, policymakers are being urged to fight disease and climate change simultaneously.
Mass human migration. Why will it happen? How will we cope? What are the costs?
Civilizations that died when they outstripped their resources and altered the local climate – Mayan. Angkor Wat. Lessons to be learned and applied.
Where should we build our houses? Rising sea levels. Loss of agricultural land. Cities.
Architectural design (All new buildings in UK must be “carbon neutral” by 2016)
Living with nature.
How Weather Affects World Climate- an activity for developing understanding
How Weather Influences World Climate
Understanding relationships: World Futures
- Understanding Systems
Students who understand systems:
Recognise interconnections within and between systems.
Understand the connections between local and global environments ( social, natural and constructed).
By exploring the ways in which scientists observe weather patterns and make judgements about climate effects, students will
gain an understanding of casual relationships in systems including some of their effects on people.
What is weather? Visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/whatisweather/aboutweather/flash_menu.shtml and complete the interactive activities to develop a little understanding of the vocabulary.
What is Climate?
Visit http://www.econet.org.uk/weather/whatis.html to find an explanation of this.
Grade 5/6 Science quiz http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/dynamo/lab/quiz/12b.htm interactive quiz on science knowledge.
Weather & Climate Quiz: http://www.ecokids.ca/pub/eco_info/topics/climate/quiz/play_climatequiz1.cfm
World temperature extremes
World temperature extremes: http://members.iinet.com.au/~jacob/worldtp.html
What is the lowest temperature ever recorded in Australia. At which city was it recorded?
What is the highest temperature ever recorded in Australia. At which city was it recorded?
Find these places on the map of Australia. Are they near the coast or inland? Is there a difference?
Discuss this in small groups and report back to your teacher.
What are your findings. Is there a pattern as to where the extreme temperatures occur?
Discuss this with your teacher.
Form an hypothesis as to where extremes in temperature occur.
Scientists form hypotheses to predict what will occur. They then test these hypotheses by designing an experiment to prove or disprove their hypotheses.
With your teacher, discuss how you would prove or disprove the hypotheis
that "extremes of temperature occur in inland areas of a continent"
The Mallee duststorm of February 1983
The red soils of the Mallee vegetation type in central and northern Victoria are rich and sandy. They have been cleared of their native vegetation by farmers from the 1850s to develop areas suitable for grain growing. The soils are sandy, and in times of severe drought they can move under severe weather conditions as the roots of plants. Go to http://www.bom.gov.au/lam/climate/levelthree/c20thc/storm7.htm and read
http://www.bom.gov.au/lam/climate/levelthree/c20thc/tas.htm Extremes of climate in Tasmania
Visit these sites to find out about El Nino.
How do scientists think El Nino affects the weather in Australia?
What is permafrost? Visit this link then make a brief summary for your group discussion.
What do scientists think is happening to the permafrost areas of Iceland?
Wildlife & Climate Quiz: http://www.ecokids.ca/pub/eco_info/topics/climate/quiz/quiz2.cfm
Causes of Climate Change: http://www.ecokids.ca/pub/eco_info/topics/climate/quiz/quiz3.cfm
Effects of Climate Change: http://www.ecokids.ca/pub/eco_info/topics/climate/quiz/play_climatequiz4.cfm
Local power generation vs. national grid.
Nuclear power. Risks and benefits. Dealing with waste. History of accidents and leaks.
Carbon sequestration – What is it? Where can it be applied? Is it a practical solution on a large scale?
Coal and climate change- the industry looks at the cost of closing down.
Continuing with coal- the industry is confident and is predicting good returns out to 2050. Is it ethical to be exporting material to other countries that will ultimately damage their sustainability?
Coal fired power stations - an animation of the process
The potential cost of pursuing the reliance on oil for transport
Alternative (renewable) fuels.
Bio-diesel, and alcohol. What are the benefits? What are the risks? How will it impact on food production and the environment. What happens if it involves land clearing?
Alternative technology to reduce green house pollution.
Cars and Carbon dioxide-
Did you know that for every litre of petrol used, more than two kilograms of carbon dioxide is released from your vehicle's exhaust?
That's over 4 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year for the average car.
Transport. Saving energy. The effect of jet aircraft on global worming.
Jet aircraft emit high levels of nitrous oxides, a
greenhouse gas 320 times more potent than CO2, and other greenhouse gases into
the upper atmosphere.
For this reason, aircraft emissions have about three times more global warming effect than the CO2 emitted by a road vehicle from the same amount of fuel.
Energy saving technology and devices.
Living Carbon neutral.
Knowing the carbon cost of all we do and all we buy.
Carbon trading systems.
Identifying the environmental influences on sinks could help to explain fluctuations in atmospheric concentrations of methane, which remain poorly understood.
New research challenges the assumption that an increase in ocean temperatures associated with climate change will promote future jellyfish outbreaks.
The costs of climate change.
What are the costs of doing nothing?
What are the economic benefits of acting now?
The effect of consumerism.
Politics and pollution. Who pays?
How can countries work together?
What will make people and politicians put aside immediate self interest?
Custodian, exploiter or consumer?
Man, a part of nature or authority over it?
Who speaks for those that can not speak? (The animals, the marginalized, the planet)
Who owns the land?
What are the consequences of loss of biodiversity? Why is it important?
Wildlife, wilderness and natural spaces, an esthetic luxury or beyond value?