Learning About Climate Change
Making a Decision
More than 2,432 people (including their dogs) walked through The Pier Aquarium's labyrinth on New Year's Eve, learned about Climate Change and then "voted" on what they would do to lessen their impact on the environment. Here are the results for the eight choices from 1,969 people:
Recycle not only plastics but electronics as well. 317 votes
Make a commitment to buy an electric or hybrid car in three years. 300 votes
|Use fuel-max tires on your car. 277 votes
|Use long-lasting efficient light bulbs (CFLs). 261 votes
|Utilize xeriscaping (use of native plants) to reduce water use and plant transportation cost. 239 votes
|Buy Energy-Star Certified appliances. 225 votes
|Decrease miles driven by using public transportation. 195 votes
|Get direct airline flights to limit fuel burned by aircraft. 155 votes
The free First Night activity that opened at 7pm Dec. 31, 2010 melded education with fun. Labyrinth visitors paced a lit labyrinth set up in the Classical 7 Circuit pattern, which is the oldest and most prevalent of the labyrinth designs (at least 5,000 years old and perhaps twice that!) that can be found all over the world from Siberia to Sumatra.
The Climate Change theme was carried out by a group of students who volunteered their time to create awareness about this important issue, working with Emily Stehle, APR, the aquarium's PR/Marketing Director.
Paper bag luminaries with environmental messages were designed and decorated by pupils at Admiral Farragut Academy, Bay Vista Fundamental Elementary School, Woodlawn Elementary School, visitors to the aquarium and aquarium staff. Another element of the labyrinth was an art installation, Tree Fish, 32 red plastic fish swimming through the trees, by Mark Aeling, MGS Sculpture Studio and Catherine Woods of C Glass Studio.
In their words: Tree Fish is a break from reality, a surreal version of red tide in honor of the new Dali Museum.
The Pier Aquarium also participated in the shopping cart parade that began in darkness at 8pm. The spirit and personality of Ms. Peabody, a balloonfish that lived at the aquarium for many years, was channeled in the fish entry that was "bigger than life." That is, Ms. Peabody WAS the shopping cart and her entourage of 25 ocean friends were, too! Ms. Peabody was created by Emily Stehle and volunteer Michelle Duff from materals found at home (St. Petersburg Times newspapers and advertising inserts, Time and Instyle magazines, styrofoam bowls/eyes, bubble wrap and styrofoam peanuts) or in a front yard (palm tree fronds/the fins and tail) or in the aquarium's education supply cabinet and classroom (old NOAA brochures, cardboard, fish drawings). The only purchases were gold paint and flashing lights for the crown, brown paint for the body and pink/purple paint for Ms. Peabody's "lipstick." Sea urchins were made by Jamie Anderson from styrofoam balls, brown paint and black pipe cleaners.
Our sincere thanks to to the students who developed the content for the Climate Change Labyrinth.
Jack Pendergast, a senior at Gibbs High School, helped create the Climate Change logo. Eckerd College seniors, who selected The Pier Aquarium for their Quest for Meaning class, researched Climate Change and prepared the signs that dotted the labyrinth path. The students were: Miles Enright, Patrick Fowler, Ryan Reents, Eder Romero, Cameron Stanzione and Riley Symmes from Eckerd and University of South Florida journalism student Andrea Inman. Andrea shot video that was posted on YouTube (Meet the Volunteers, Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3), helped organize the information, set up the labyrinth ribbon activity and handed out Conserve Water buttons and temporary tattoos (provided by our partner, the Southwest Florida Water Management District) at First Night.
Thanks to these volunteers who physically created the labyrinth:
- Andrea Inman & Sal Nunez
- Erica Moulton and Sean, Dalton and Malakai Nordquist
- John Tournier
- Butch Ringelspaugh
- E. Howard Rutherford
- Emily Stehle, APR & Mike Stehle
- Mark Winterbottom
- Patty, Paul & Patrick Zimmermann
- Bob, Chris and Cameron of the City of St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation Department
Bright and early 9am Friday, Dec. 31
The work crew from St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation (Bob Ferris, Chris Everingham and Cameron Stryker), Artists Mark Aeling and Catherine Woods, Allen Loyd of First Night, aquarium volunteer Mark Winterbottom and PR/Marketing Director Emily Stehle met under the big tree in South Straub Park.
Their task: install the aquarium's Climate Change Labyrinth banners (Activity 7) and 32 red fish for the TREE FISH art exhibit (Activity 9). Ladders, a cherry picker, steady hands and good eyes made the 2 1/2 hours go quickly. Most of the hard work (getting banners and fish in the trees) was done by the St. Pete city crew.
It was a good, no - wonderul - way to start off New Year's Eve!
Many thanks to our "labyrinth" hosts:
- Bradley Burge
- Mark Felix & E. Howard Rutherford
- Andrea Inman & Sal Nunez
- Danny Lopez
- Cathy Quindiagan
- Butch Ringelspaugh
- Susan Sawyer
- Mike & Emily Stehle
- Sandra van de Weerd
- Sara Ziegenfuss
The Climate Change Labyrinth (facts and stats)
Does climate change exist? Judge for yourself.
||Climate is the average weather conditions at a given location over time. |
||Climate includes statistics such as average daytime maximum temperature or storm and drought frequency. |
||Weather is the day-to-day changes in temperature, cloudiness, precipitation and other meteorological conditions.|
||Climate change is the change in these statistics over years, decades and centuries.|
||During the 20th Century, the average surface temperature on Earth rose by about 1.08 degrees Fahrenheit.|
||Over the past 50 years average global temperature has increased more than ever. |
||Since 1970 Earth's temperature has risen 0.6 degrees Celsius or 1 degree Fahrenheit. |
||Eleven of the hottest years the world has experienced since 1880 have occurred after 1987. |
||Since 2000, it has risen by more than .25 degrees. Doesn't sound like much but this represents a rapid rate of change compared to changes over the previous 10,000 years. |
||Climate change causes extreme weather events, such as wildfires, heat waves, tropical storms and hurricanes.|
||Climate scientists expect Earth's temperature to continue rising.|
||Average U.S. temperature could rise 3-9 degrees by the end of the century. |
||Anticipated results: Rising global sea level and greater frequency and intensity of heat waves, droughts and floods.|
||According to scientific observations and climate model results human activities are now the primary cause of the ongoing heating of Earth's globally averaged surface temperatures.|
||Climate change will continue to be a significant element of public discourse. |
||Estimates of future climate are called projections expressed as possible outcomes, because there are still uncertainties about how climate systems will respond to increasing greenhouse emissions. |
||Countries globally created the Kyoto Protocol, which is an agreement that helps to limit and slow down global warming, in 1997. |
Three Ways to Study Climate
-- Comparing daily weather with long-term records.
-- Exploring abstract representations of climate in computer models.
-- Examining how climate change impacts human and ecosystem health
||What is Climate Change Literacy? It is the understanding of your influence on climate and climate's influence on |
you and society.
||To be climate literate you: |
-- Understand the essential principles of Earth's climate system.
-- Know how to assess scientifically credible information about climate,
-- Communicate about climate and climate change in a meaningful way.
-- Are able to make informed and responsible decisions about what you do that may affect climate
||National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Seven Essential Principles of Climate Science |
1. The Sun is the primary source of energy for Earth's climate system.
2. Climate is regulated by complex interactions among components of the Earth system.
3. Life on Earth depends on, is shaped by and affects climate.
4. Climate varies over space and time through both natural and man-made processes.
5. Our understanding of the climate system is improved through observations, theoretical studies and modeling.
6. Human activities are impacting the climate system.
7. Climate change will have consequences for the Earth system and human lives.
||What is scientifically correct? Science is an on-going process of making observatioins and using evidence to |
test theories. The scientific community uses a highly formalized version of peer review to validate research
results and our understanding of their significance.
Peer Review Process (4 Steps)
1. Researchers describe their experiments, results and their interpretations and submit their findings for publication in a scientific journal in their field of science.
2. Experts i nthat field read the manuscript to judge the reliability of the research and determine if the interpretations are supported by the data.
3. Journal editors accepot or reject manuscripts or ask for revisions.
4. The published papers ini science journals are accepted as current science knowledge.
||The overwhelming majority of peer-reviewed papers about global change acknowledges that human activities are a major contributing factor.|
||Global warming is making hot days hotter, rainfall and flooding more heavier, storms strong4er and droughts more severe.|
||Global warming is caused by "greenhouse" gases in the Earth's atmosphere that traps heat from the Sun's rays.|
||Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are composed of 63% carbon dioxide, 18% methane, 6% nitrous oxide and 13% of others. |
||Carbon dioxide, or CO2 emissions are composed of 43% coal, 38% oil and 19% natural gases.|
||Coal burning power plants are the largest source of carbon dioxide.|
||Industries account for more than one-third of global energy use and CO2 emissions.|
||Americans make up 4% of the world population yet produce 25% of the carbon dioxide.|
||Impact of global warming will be felt more at higher latitudes and altitudes and at places farthest away from the sea.|
||Global warming could increase chances of malaria and dengue.|
||Because many disease pathogens are strongly influenced by temperature, global climate change could lead to an increase in malaria transmission by expanding mosquito habitat.|
||The destructive potential of a hurricane has increased along with ocean temperatures in the last 35 years.|
||Warmer sea temperatures will fuel more intense hurricanes in the southeast Atlantic.|
||Stronger hurricanes, heavier rainfall and rising sea levels will threaten Atlantic and Gulf Coast states.|
||The Ocean's Chemistry|
Increasing CO2 in the atmosphere means more CO2 in the sea water. More acid in the ocean dissolves corals and affects many other living things.
||Within the last several decades, corals ini the Florida Keys have had very high mortality rates related to elevated water temperatures. Disease became widespread for species that survived the higher temperatures. |
||Impacts of climate change already apparent in Florida: periods of drought alternating with heavy rain; saltwater intrusion into aquifers; increases in heat-related and insect-borne diseases; changes in the range of exotic species; ocean acidification and impact of sea level rise on man-made coastal systems.|
||Seawater temperatures wil rise causing coral bleaching.|
||Disruption of coral reefs and alpine meadows could lead to species extinction. This could affect tourism, hunting and angling industries.|
||Tourist attractions become affected by disruptions to the ecosystem.|
The South Florida peninsula is one of the most vulunerable regions to climate change.
||Rich coastal wetlands reside in the Mississippi River Delta are disappearing at a rate of more than 25 sq. miles a year.|
||The Gulf Coast region has seen massive declines in coral reef health in the last decade due to: |
-- Coral bleaching from higher temperatures
-- Growth of algae on reefs
-- Loss of algae grazers
||Sea level rise and saltwater intrusion have led to vast strands of dead coastal forest around the Gulf of Mexico|
||In Florida bald cypress and live oak mortality from saltwater intrusion have occurred as far as 30 miles inland.|
||A 2008 Florida State University Climate Study estimated land at risk from sea level rise in Dade County to be 6.7 billion by 2080.|
||Loss of Ice|
Between 1961 and 1997 the world's glaciers lost 890 cubic miles of ice.
||The area of the Arctic Polar Ice Cap is declining at a arate of 9% per decade.|
||Snow accumulation has declined 60% since the 1950s in some areas of the U.S.|
Melting of the permafrost in the Northern Tundra that covers 9 million sq. miles
Implications: Under the permafrost, Arctic soil contains more carbon than what currently resides in the atmosphere.
||Some Alaskan villages have been moved to higher ground in response to increasing storm damage and the thawing of permafrost that undermines the infrastructure.|
A meltwater stream on the Greenland ice sheet flows into the ice through a tunnel called a moulin. About half of the loss of the ice mass flows in the North Atlantic Ocean as meltwater. Liquid water, denser than ice, penetrates through the ice sheet and accelerates ice loss.
||Water temperatures cause melting in the summer months, which leads to faster flow, which moves the ice sheet to warmer, lower altitudes. |
||As glaciers melt, sea levels will rise from 8 inches to 2 1/2 ft. over the next century.|
||Sea Level Rise leads to flooding of low-lying areas, erosion of beaches, loss of coastal wetlands and increased vulnerability of coastal areas to storms and hurricanes.|
||In Florida, seawater will advance inland as much as 400 ft. in low-lying areas flooding shoreline homes and hotels, limiting future development and eroding the state's beloved beaches.|
||As saltwater encroaches inland, fresh water supplies will be at risk of saltwater contamination.|
||Any rise in sea level wil have a disproportional effect on Florida and the Gulf Coast due to flat topography.|
||Rising sea levels will lead to coastal flooding along the East Coast, Florida and in the Gulf|
||Rises in sea level can negatively affect the availability and distribution of precious fresh water resources.|
Supplies of fresh water to cities, farms and tourist areas will be affected by encroaching seawater.
||Florida's aquifers are highly susceptible to saltwater intrusion.|
||The Everglades and animals that live there will be contaminated with seawater.|
||Coastal and marine ecosystems will be negatively impacted by increased droughts and a lack of fresh water flow into estuaries and bays.|
||Changes in availability and distribution of fresh water will have a negative effect on Gulf Coast wildlife habitats.|
||The whooping crane is the rarest of the world's five crane species.|
||Vast Florida wetland health is especially susceptible to changes in rainfall, stream flow and overall fresh water availability.|
Less fresh water will also have a negative effect on the Gulf Coast's large forestry and agriculture sectors.
Spring is coming earlier in both hemispheres.
||The growing season in parts of the Northern Hemisphere became two weeks longer in the second half of the 20th Century.|
||Gulf Coast agriculture produces more than $28 billion every year.|
||Global warming impact on agriculture may not be felt immediately. It may help some commercial crops at first.|
||Global warming will reduce farming yields. |
||Long-term climate changes will lead to lower yields of important cash crops such as citrus, sugar cane and tomatoes.|
||Forest Fires: Very likely to be more common and do more damage (result of higher temperatures and intense droughts)|
||Global warming may increase the threat to forests from invasive species and pests.|
||A changing climate causes changes in vegetation or habitat characteristics in terrestrial habitats. Some species will seek to move, some adapt and others go locally extinct.|
Global warming will pose specific health threats to Florida's citizens particularly seniors.
||Threats: Increased incidence of heat-related illness, exacerbating poor air quality. |
Increased heat may lead to more air pollution, which stresses senior's cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
||Warmer water will be more hospitabel to water-borne diseases.|
||The planet will continue to warm, and changes will continue to happen far into the future. But the degrees to which global warming changes life on Earth depends on our decisions now.|
||How can we cut pollution? Reduce pollution from vehicles and power plants.|
||What can I do to help fight global warming? |
||A. Make conserving energy part of your daily routine.|
||B. Use fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) instead of incandescent bulbs.|
||C. Turn off the lights when you leave the room.|
||D. Don't turn the air conditioning (or heat) up so high.|
1pm Jan. 4, 2011 Banners and Fish Come Down
Thanks again to the Climate Change Researchers who worked on this Pier Aquarium project:
- Miles Enright, Eckerd College senior
- Patrick Fowler, Eckerd College senior
- Andrea Inman, University of South Florida freshman
- Ryan Reents, Eckerd College senior
- Eder Romero, Eckerd College senior
- Cameron Stanzione, Eckerd College senior
- Riley Symmes, Eckerd College senior
And applause for Bob Ferris, Cameron Stryker and Chris Everingham, our "put'er up and take 'er down" guys!