Category Archives: Environments

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
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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!

So is the Earth full or is abundance our future? #TED2012

TED 2012 is underway and they have been posting some of the talks to their website. Here is a pair of talks which showcase different views of where we are in the world right now – each of them linking to our units on Environmental Science. You can also follow them on the Guardian’s liveblog.

In the first, Paul Gilding states that “The Earth is full,” but that it takes times of real crisis for us to create solutions and climb out of the hole we have dug for ourselves.

In this one, Peter Diamandis argues that we are living in a time of abundance and that human ingenuity will get us out of our problems.

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EDIT – 4th March

These talks which have also been published are relevant to the issues we are studying in class. Have fun watching them!

Daniel Pauly: The ocean’s shifting baseline

Paul Snelgrove: A census of the ocean

300 Years of Fossil Fuels in 300 Seconds (video)

A 5-minute overview of the use of fossil fuels, industrial revolution and consumerism, produced by the Post Carbon Institute. Where are we now? In a time of need for resilience and inventive solutions. Click here for excerpts from their post-carbon reader.

Do something useful – do science.

The Story of Electronics (video): cut down the ‘stuff’ this holiday

Tis the season to be jolly – and to ask for new shiny gadgets to replace the still newish, slightly less shiny doodas we already have. But how often do we really think about the impacts of our disposable culture?

Watch Annie Leonard’s clip on the story of electronics and take principled actions this holiday season.

For more videos like this, check out her YouTube channel or book.

Jae Rhim Lee’s Mushroom Burial Suit

Oooooh... Mummy!It’s Halloween!

In topic 5.1 we learn that energy flows… but nutrients recycle. We are made of organic molecules – nutrients. So why not truly go green?

Watch the TED talk below and think about how many connections across the course we can make so far.

I want one!

For more on how saprotrophs such as fungi can be harnessed to solve pollutant problems, check out Paul Stamet’s talk: 6 ways mushrooms can save the world.

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In other grisly news, a UK taxi-driver has donated his body to science – to become a mummy (in the ancient Egyptian sense).

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Mummy image courtesy of halloweenclipart.com.

Thai Floods – Shelterbox appeal

The recent floods in Thailand have killed many and displaced many more. John Burrell, author of Click4Biology, lives and teaches in Thailand and has posted an appeal for donations to relief charity Shelterbox. If you have taken advantage of his free site over recent years, please pay it forwards – visit the site and make a donation.

Cane Toads: The Conquest

A direct link to the Ecology and Conservation option, Cane Toads: The Conquest is a 3D horror-documentary.

Looks like fun!

Inside Fukushima

The Guardian has a nice interactive gallery this week of some images taken inside the Fukushima clean-up operation. In the months since the Tōhoku earthquake, there have been published a wealth of very useful educational resources regarding nuclear power, radiation, earthquakes and tsunamis. Sadly too the internet has been inundated with rubbish. When we come to our Atomic Energy unit of inquiry in Grade 10, we will look at some of these and try to evaluate their usefulness.

For now, enjoy the pictures. If you want to learn more, the Guardian was pretty good with their coverage and their links are well worth following.

Guardian Fukushima Gallery

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.

Read the rest of this entry

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.

Watch It!

Watch It!

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 :

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