Category Archives: Endangered Species
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.
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.
The 11th Hour re-up: Human Impacts on Ecosystems
In 2007, Leonardo DiCaprio released his environmental call-to-arms, The 11th Hour. And it’s very good. It really knocks home the old proverb that we are not inheriting the Earth from our ancestors, but borrowing it from our children.
Update 2009: the whole film is available on GoogleVideo (as all good documentaries should be):
The movie contains contributions from the likes of Stephen Hawking, Nobel-winner Wangari Maathai and David Suzuki. Particularly useful is Gloria Flora‘s sentiment that we all vote, every day – even those who are too young to cast a ballot – by making informed choices about what we consume, spend our money on and throw away.
The first half of the movie is a talking-heads and imagery look at our impacts on the Earth, with plenty of soundbites and starting-points for further discussion. The political middle section describes how economic growth and interests are driving destruction. The final act is a great collection of ideas and hope – a call to arms and a realisation that the environmental movement is growing quickly and strongly. But is it going to be in time to save our species and the thousands that we drive to extinction each year?
Now here’s Leo’s video message (including the ‘vote’ quote from Gloria Flora):
For some further reading, go to the 11th hour Action website.
IB Biology students:
Here is a quick question sheet for the movie, linking some of the topics to the Ecology and Conservation option.
Higher Level students: pay attention to the parts about the role of trees in the environment, in particular through water-uptake. Also, do you understand how mycofiltration (using fungal mycelia) could be used to clean polluted soils?
For good measure, here’s Linkin Park’s accompanying music video, What I’ve Done :
NOAA Environmental Visualisation Library
Awesome. NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) has revamped its Environmental visualisation libray – bringing new educational materials, visualisations, animations and resources to educators and the public. See the images of the 2008 hurricane season, animations of the ocean damage caused by humans or check out their library of satellite images.
They also have a YouTube channel where you can view and download some of their video resources. In relation to our upcoming Earth Day theme of “Reefs and Oceans“, here’s a clip about the effects of coral bleaching:
ReefCheck – International Year of the Reef
2008 is International Year of the Reef (IYOR) and ReefCheck is an organisation devoted to monitoring and protecting the health of reefs around the world. As part of the IYOR activities, ReefCheck have released their Year of the Reef song, and you can see it on their site or on YouTube:
If you head over the to the ReefCheck.org website, you’ll find a wealth of great resources for education and action regarding the reefs. Particularly useful for students may be the WRAS (web reef advisory system), which is a collection of fact sheets on factors impacting reef ecology.
For people with a more active interest in the reefs (and for IB students interested in racking up some CAS credits), check out the EcoAction pages and see what is available there. You might want to get involved in the EcoMonitoring Program and take part in global reef research.
Also, if you hurry, you could get in on the action for the photo contest (closes 31st August).
One of the coolest things (for me, anyway) about ReefCheck is their presence on the Indies Trader, the vessel of the Quiksilver Crossing which is carrying world-class surfers around the globe searching for the best unsurfed waves on the planet. They also get to check out ‘untouched’ reefs in order to create a baseline against which they can compare the order of damage sustained by other reefs. To see some of their highlights, click here.
ActionFiguresTV has a tour of the Indies Trader here:
Now here’s Sebastian from the Little Mermaid singing the best Disney song ever: