Category Archives: Conservation

A Plastic Ocean. Genuinely Terrifying.

Streaming now on Netflix and available through other means, A Plastic Ocean is a terrifying (but well done) feature-length documentary on the rapidly growing crisis in the oceans as a direct result of human impacts.

IB Bio and ESS students will find many curricular connections in this movie, from food webs, water cycles and ocean currents to animal behaviour, biomagnification and endocrinology. Including the impact on human and animal health, this film raises and alarm and shows where we’ve gone wrong. There are some really insightful sections of scientists at work, where we can see “how we know what we know” and what actions are being taken. The final section has some fascinating solutions and actions. Give it a go.

Tanya Streeter, world-record freediver, narrates and is featured in much of the film. Her TEDx Talk tells a similar story.

Taking Action

Ocean plastics have really come into vogue the last couple of years, and it is a safe bet that someone near you is involved in taking action. From beach cleans, reef surveys and cleanups to campaigns to ban single-use plastics (chapeau, Costa Rica), plastic is clearly one of those issues that is indisputably – embarrassingly – human made.

What’s your school doing to reduce the scourge of plastic?

 

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Before the Flood: The Science is Clear, the Future is Not.

New from Leonardo DiCaprio and National Geographic, Before the Flood is a compelling and powerful climate change documentary. Where are we in the world right now with our understanding, challenges and potential solutions. What actions need to be taken right away?

The full movie is was available initially for free on YouTube, and their action website hosts more resources for use in class or discussions. Click here for other platforms where you can view, rent or buy the movie.

 

Making the Invisible Visible: Climate Change & CO2

This is very neat video from NASA, showing carbon dioxide changes over time, with annotations. See a breakdown here.

Niches for Species: How Wolves Change Rivers

This video is an excerpt from George Monbiot’s recent TED Talk (posted here a while back), and really sets up the imagery of an ecosystem as it responds to change. A great clip, well suited to starting off the Ecology units.

Niches for Species: George Monbiot’s TED Talk on Rewilding.

This TED Talk from Guardian environment writer George Monbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) makes a compelling argument for rewilding: putting back what we have taken from nature, letting the ecosystems do what they will and allowing the megafauna to re-reshape the ecosystem.

“It offers us the hope that our silent spring can be replaced by a raucous summer.”

The connections across the curriculum here are clear, most notably to 5.1 Ecosystems and HL Option G4: Conservation of Biodiversity. Well worth 15 minutes and could be the stimulus for class discussion.

Biology4Good Charity Focus | Marine Conservation Society

As a Marine Biologist by training, salty water and the things that live in it are close to my heart, which is why I’m happy to be supporting the Marine Conservation Society with their fundraising through my Biology4good project. They do great work on education, outreach, beach cleanups and campaigns. A current (har-har) area of focus is marine conservation zones, which connects neatly to Option G4: Conservation of Biodiversity.

If you like the resources here and like the work they do, please make a donation on my JustGiving page.

Crash Course Ecology: 12 Videos with Hank Green

I’ve featured Hank Green’s Crash Course Biology here a number of times and many of his videos have been embedded into the topic pages for the IB Biology course around this site. Prolific as he is, his ‘Crash Course Ecology’ series has just finished, so here are 12 episodes that pull together elements of the the Core and Option topics (as well as a lot more).

The full playlist is here: Crash Course Ecology. It’ll take about as long as Avatar to get through it all, and you’ll learn more about environmental change, impacts and solutions.

Episode 1: The History of Life on Earth

The rest of the episodes are linked after the jump.

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Birds of Paradise Project [Cornell Ornithology Lab]

Thanks to Celia, our librarian (@CeliaSchatzky) for sending me this!

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (@CornellBirds) and National Geographic have been working on this documentary on the Birds of Paradise. A great connection to E6 Further Studies of Behaviour and the importance of protecting habitats.

Check it out (and then spend the rest of your day on their YouTube channel)

While we’re at it, here are the Lyre birds again, from BBC Worldwide.

Save the Panda? Group research, database and discussion task.

This task is based on Chris Packham’s comments on Panda conservation and is intended to give students an insight into conservation issues and use of the IUCN Red List database. Here is a quick news clip with him defending his comments, and the activity is embedded below.

By the end of this session, students should be able to:

  • Distinguish between keystone and flagship species, with examples of each
  • Access and use the IUCN Red List database
  • Appreciate that threats to one species often threaten other species in the same area
  • Discuss the benefits of whole-ecosystem conservation
…..o0O0o………

Once this is complete, watch one of these TED Talks on active conservation management techniques and their successes. Conservation really is inspiration!

Dan Barber: How I fell in love with a fish

John Kasaona: How rhino poachers became caretakers

Willie Smits: How we regrew a rainforest

Wow!

Stephen Fry and the Great American Oil Spill

“This turtle gonna go to rehab, to make its flippers go, go, go…*”

In a recent BBC documentary, Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine head to the USA to see the damage and recovery from the Deepwater Horizon oilspill:

“Stephen Fry loves Louisiana. Four months after the BP oil spill, dubbed the worst ecological disaster in the history of America, Fry returns to the Deep South together with zoologist Mark Carwardine, to see what the impact has been on the people, the vast wetlands and the species that live there. What they find both surprises and divides the travelling duo.”

From the BBC Website (you might get it in your area)

Two more BBC YouTube clips: Has the oil really gone? and Damage to the deep-sea ecosystem.

 

BBC Special Report: Oil Spill

The BBC has a good set of resources on the BP Oil Spill, as do the Geographical Association and PBS News Hour Extra. More resources can be found at NewsroomAmerica and Associated Content.

The Deepwater Horizon spill would make a great foundation for an interdisciplinary science unit or Group 4 project, looking at ocean chemistry, waves and dispersal, remote sensing technologies, geological resources, ecology, marine biology and food chains, economics, politics, ethics and much more.

*Amy Winehouse, if you didn’t get it.

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