Posts Tagged 'climate change'



Take Back the Planet, and Not Just on Earth Day

Earth Day

The following is an excerpt from National Aquarium’s CEO John Racanelli’s piece in today’s Baltimore Sun:

For over 40 years, Earth Day has sent a powerful message: that each of us has both the capacity and the duty to support the environment that sustains us. This is certainly a message that dedicated conservationists can get behind, but what about everyday people with busy lives, kids to raise and jobs to keep? For many, Earth Day has become a day of celebration rather than an urgent call to join a movement.

Earth Day Network, the organization behind Earth Day, cites the impressive statistic that 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. Participants plant trees, clean streams and resolve to recycle more. In schools around the world, students spend several weeks learning about the planet and how they can make a difference.

What really matters, though, is what people do the day after Earth Day — and for the 363 days after that. Earth Day was born out of a desire to do something. In 1970, 20 million individuals from all walks of life united to protest the deterioration of the environment, and the results included the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act. Why can’t Earth Day 2013 be the start of this same kind of sea change?

My colleague Sylvia Earle, a renowned oceanographer whom Time Magazine called a “Hero for the Planet,” has said that the next 10 years may be more important than the last 10,000 in determining the fate of our oceans. She may as well be talking about the fate of humans. It may not be the planet that needs saving so much as we do.

 To read more of John’s call-to-action, click here

How are you celebrating Earth Day? Tell us in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter using #EarthDay

A Blue View: Climate Change and the Rise of Mega Storms

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

December 20: “Global Weirding”

Listen to John discuss how climate change has led to the rise of mega storms

Until recently, scientists and meteorologists have been hesitant to make a direct connection between climate change and rapidly changing weather patterns.

Coined “global weirding,” distinct trends and records for nearly every type of extreme weather are occurring: high temperatures get higher, rainfalls set new records, droughts get deeper, wildfires burn more acres. But with the increasing frequency of these events, and particularly with the devastation brought to the East Coast by Hurricane Sandy, climate change is becoming far less taboo in discussions about the causes of these mega storms.

“Global weirding” by the numbers …

  • Sea levels are expected to rise by as much as 3 feet by the year 2100.
  • The global population is expected to grow from 6.7 billion to 9.2 billion people between now and 2050, demand for renewable energy and clean water will continue to soar.
  • The average global temperature could rise between 2°F and 11°F by the end of the century.

Want to learn more about the basics of climate change? Check out this great video!

Thoughtful Thursdays: Climate Change is Killing our Coral Reefs

A Majority of Coral Reefs Will Be Damaged By 2030 Due to Rising Greenhouse Gases

The negative impacts of climate change have been widely reported. Temparatures continue to steadily rise, weather patterns are increasingly erratic and greenhouse gas emissions are causing alarming rates of CO2 to linger in our atmospheres. The ecosystem in the most immediate danger of total degradation from this changes is the ocean.

Orange mushroom and other various corals

Specifically, climate change impacts are wreaking havoc on our coral reef ecosystems. As temperatures rise, mass bleaching and infectious disease outbreaks are becoming more frequent and impossible to contain. The CO2 that lingers in the air above ground is also being absorbed into the ocean, altering the sea water chemistry in a process called ocean acidification.

“Think about putting your blue jeans in the laundry and putting in too much bleach. Well, they come out white. That’s what happens to these corals. All these beautiful colors of this coral that you’re looking at … now what you would see is a field of white,” said Brent Whitaker, National Aquarium Director of Biological Programs .

A vibrant sun polyp coral

The bleaching of coral reefs is usually brought on by unusually warm waters and stress. Shallow-water reefs, like those along our Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean, have been particularly harmed by prolonged periods of warmth – an estimated 16 percent of those reefs have been killed worldwide.

Queen Angel fish in our Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit

After closely montioring the effects these changes are having on ocean life, scientists have determined the rate at which the damage is happening. At least 70 percent of coral reefs are projected to suffer from degradation by 2030 without a dramatic change to carbon emissions, according to a Nature Climate Change study.

There is so much that we can do to protect our blue planet. To learn more about the National Aquarium’s efforts to preserve our coral reef ecosystems and how you can get involved, click here.

Thoughtful Thursdays: The Nature of Learning

In early May, the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) spent two days at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge engaging students in activities focused on climate change and its effects on the diamondback terrapin.

Partnering with staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, students were led through activities including a wetland planting promoting terrapin habitat, a GPS scavenger hunt to illustrate field monitoring techniques, and a nature walk along the butterfly garden, surveying the local bird population.

Prior to this field trip, Aquarium staff visited the students in their classrooms as part of an introduction to climate change, as well as terrapin characteristics and husbandry. Schools selected to participate are part of the Aquarium’s Terrapins in the Classroom program, a head-start program in which students care for and observe a newly hatched terrapin they will ultimately release into natural habitat at the end of the school year.

All activities were made possible through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Nature of Learning grant. The Nature of Learning grant encourages educators to “use National Wildlife Refuges as outdoor classrooms to promote a greater understanding of local conservation issues.”

In all, the Aquarium engaged more than 100 students in climate change activities, while educating students on how to be stewards of the Chesapeake Bay.

You can too! The Aquarium offers habitat restoration opportunities to promote a healthy Bay. Sign up for one of our free events today! Together our actions and awareness will create a healthy environment for Maryland’s state reptile, the diamondback terrapin.

Thoughtful Thursdays: I Will if You Will

Earth Hour

On Saturday, March 31, between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. (local time) Earth Hour will once again cascade across the globe.

Sponsored by World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Earth Hour asks individuals, businesses, and government leaders to turn out all non-essential lighting for one hour as a movement to demand action on climate change.

The National Aquarium is working with staff at both venues to turn off all unnecessary lighting and other electronic devices during that time.

We will stand in the dark alongside other international cities and iconic landmarks, from the Las Vegas Strip to the Eiffel Tower to the Great Pyramids of Giza.

Here’s a quick video clip of the Aquarium going dark for Earth Hour last year:

This year WWF is asking people, What are you willing to do to save the planet? People all over the world, including lots of celebrities, are really getting into the spirit by making commitments saying what they’ll do if other people will take action to protect the planet. The commitments range from inspiring to borderline-dangerous to hilarious!

Check out all the “I will if you will” dares on Earth Hour’s YouTube channel and accept someone’s challenge or submit your own!

And then make plans to embrace your dark side on Saturday night—light some candles and play a board game with your family or enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner.

This one hour of darkness may result in a small reduction of energy consumption, but it paints a powerful picture of behavioral change needed to combat climate change. Join us as we stand among hundreds of millions of people to call for action on climate change!

Learn more about Earth Hour at earthhour.org.


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