Category Archives: Environments
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:
How to regrow a rainforest – Willie Smits on TED Talks
My Grade 12 class have looked at this story before, and now we can hear about it from Willie Smitts, a primatologist and conservationist who has led a huge project to replant and revive a section on rainforest in Borneo. They have taken over 8,000 hectares of scorched and cleared land and are returning it to a habitat worthy of orang-utans and many more endangered species.
Smits was featured in TED2009 and here he is with his story of how they regrew the rainforest.
Microdocs: Stanford’s reef sustainability documentaries
Stanford’s Microdocs project is a well-presented set of video and pdf resources for learning about sustainability and the coral reef ecosystem. Each video is a few minutes long and accompanied by a short article or links to useful sources.
It’s divided into useful topics and easy to navigate (and looks good, too).
And while we’re on the theme of the oceans (again) there’s a brilliant student activity resource centre at the UCLA’s OceanGlobe centre. Everything you could ever need to study marine science.
Wind Turbines Make Bats’ Lungs Explode
I thought this was a hoax when I first read it, but it’s serious – and even though I’m all up for renewable energy sources (including wind-power), this is a little worrying.
Many people know that if you’ve been SCUBA diving or snorkelling deep down, you need to exhale as you surface – and not rise too quickly. This is because a rapid decrease in pressure as you surface can cause bubbles of nitrogen to form in the blood, leading to potentially fatal bends.
Well it seems a similar pressure-related phenomenon has been causing bats to drop dead near wind turbines – although instead of nitrogen bubbles forming, their lungs have been violently haemmoraging. Simply put, the high air speed around the tips of the blades cause a dramatic drop in air pressure. Bats can’t detect changes in air pressure with their echolocation, so fly through this areas. When the air pressure drops, their lungs expand and then pop.
For a great article about this, head on over to Ed Yong’s award-winning Not Exactly Rocket Science.
Here’s NewScientist’s video on the same subject:
One simple solution posted on Ed’s comments section suggest that a high-frequency noise might keep the bats at a safe distance. That would have the added benefit of keeping away the teenagers!
Here’s the link to an old post about an exploding wind turbine.
The 11th Hour – Leo Dicaprio gets his Gore on…
Following on from Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, Leonardo DiCaprio last year released his environmental call-to-arms, The 11h 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.
Here’s the trailer:
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 ballott – 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. There’s a poitical section in the middle that’s probably worth skipping, but the last section outlining some of the achievable solutions to our problems is excellent.
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, or check out An Inconvenient Blog.
For good measure, here’s Linkin Park’s accompanying music video, What I’ve Done (which was also used for Transformers):
Meet The Greens
Meet The Greens is a collection of animated webisodes featuring the Green family dealing with environmental Issues. Granny Green says blog it, so here we are! Go have a look.
Here’s their official blurb:
“MeetTheGreens.org is a new kids’ guide to looking after the planet. Kids can watch The GREENS’ cartoon adventures and discover related green games, news, downloads, a blog, action tips, links, and much more. This innovative, Web-only project comes from WGBH in Boston, the producer of shows like ZOOM, ARTHUR, Frontline & NOVA.“
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:
The Great Turtle Race
Sea turtles make huge journeys across the Pacific, to and from egg-laying sites. Turtles laying eggs in Indonesia paddle (and use currents) all the way to California to forage for jellyfish, and leatherbacks from Costa Rica travel right down to the south Pacific.
Some researchers have been using GPS technology to track migrations to see if their route is the same each year:
There is even an annual event called The Great Turtle Race (this year is the second – The Olympiad!)
Head on over to their website to find out more about sea turtle conservation and visit some of their links.
There’s even a flash game or two to play, or a sea turtle survival lesson from Bridge: National Marine Educators Association
And, of course, there is a facebook group devoted to the race.
This is all organised by the leatherback trust.
Plant and Soil Sciences eLibrary
With all the webspace devoted to genetics and biotechnology at the moment, it’s great to stumble upon a site that is bringing ‘old school’ Science into the new millenium. Though no-one seems to call it botany any more!
The Plant and Soil Science eLibrary hosts a collection of animations on plant science topics and cell biology that are useful, clear and can be easily downloaded. They are all also available in Spanish and many have pdf help notes for students.
The site is designed primarily for people who wish to earn credit for further studies in crop science and contains such units as plant physiology, crop technology and nutrition technology. There’s even some genetics in there.
Click on the image to see their transpiration example.