Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why meteorologists are the scientists least likely to accept climate change

Only about 50% of meteorologists accept that climate is changing and that humans are a major cause of the change. I've heard this statistic before, but have never heard any insight as to why people so connected to the weather could be so divided over climate change. That is, until I read this article in the New York Times.

Turns out, there are a few hypotheses about why meteorologists are hesitant to accept the findings of climate scientists. Definitely take the time to read the article, but I'll highlight a few reasons below.

1. Meteorologists use very sensitive models that rarely accurately predict weather beyond 7 days. Models used by climate scientists are significantly less sensitive (they're not trying to predict the amount of climate change we'll see on February 7th, 2130 in Ithaca, NY, but rather more like the general regional temperature and precipitation patterns that will be seen in the Northeastern United States for the years 2100-2150).

2. Climate scientists are usually have doctoral degrees and are associated with an institution or university, whereas meteorologists are usually employed with a bachelor's degree, thereby causing a faction between the two groups.

Whatever the reasons are, outreach efforts are underway to bring more climate education to meteorologists, as they are the face of weather and climate to the nation!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Learning to Reject Climate Change

I just came across a great article on NPR. Great in that it was extremely informative and gave me some insight on something that, as a climate change educator, has continually perplexed me. The content itself, however, was not as great for climate change educators like myself. Go ahead and read the NPR article here.

The sum of the debate is that the number of republicans who support climate change legislation is decreasing, through term limits and changes of opinion. GOP candidates don't want to lose money or votes by supporting climate change legislation, even if they did support it a year or two ago. Its better to change their opinion than get insulted by members of the party. And those who DO still stand up for sound, well-supported science are being scoffed at.

Unfortunately, many individuals see climate change as a political issue instead of a scientific issue. Of course, it is a political issue, but disagreeing on how to treat climate change (a perfectly acceptable political discussion; cap and trade, carbon tax, etc.), is very different from the denialist opinion that it isn't happening so why should we spend money or time on it. That opinion is contrary to everything shown by thousands and thousands of scientists. Anyone with an understanding of the scientific method can see that there is substantial scientific evidence for human-made climate change, shown by thousands of scientists independently. An aside, if you have EVER tried to get even 10 academics to agree on something, you'd know what an amazing feat it has been to get thousands of scientists to agree on climate change. Conspiracy? I think not.

Let's argue politically about what to do with our future carbon emissions, not whether or not they create a problem. Hand-picking a few flawed graphs or arguments about the degree of change within a certain aspect of climate to promote the *fallacy* of human-made climate change is as bad as the non-scientific attacks on evolution made by creationists. Let's buck up on our science, both Democrats and Republicans alike, and work together for the betterment of the US and the world!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring Break Looms...

Many of us with children in our lives find ourselves anxiously awaiting Spring Break. May it be because we are excited to have a week with the kids home from school, or dreading that the kids are home from school for a whole week -- no matter what -- we have to find something for us all to do!

Spring Break is a great opportunity to find ways to teach our kids how to be better stewards of the environment. One of the big "events" I'm doing with my niece over break is visiting our local attractions (the Museum of the Earth included!) via our local bus. There's no reason to drive when TCAT makes hourly stops at the Museum and other locations through out the area. It's a simple way of being just a bit more green!

I also found a whole list of 9 ways to to turn trash to crafts and I'm so going to try them out...There is nothing worse than when my niece looks at me and says she has nothing to do and that she's bored! I'm hoping that during this week we'll get at least two of these crafts done!

Here's the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/25/9-crafts-to-reuse-your-tr_n_504436.html

If you and your family do any "green" activities over Spring Break send me the pictures and we will feature them on the blog! (cwk47@cornell.edu)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tracking Climate in Your Backyard

4-H Educators working on a weather activity at PRI's 2009 workshop.

More than twenty 4-H educators and volunteers from across New York state will be meeting at the Paleontological Research Institution's (PRI) Museum of the Earth from March 23-24 to take part in a citizen science initiative called Tracking Climate in Your Backyard. These educators will be introduced to a new curriculum on climate and weather created by PRI's Global Change Project manager Trisha Smercak.

Tracking Climate in Your Backyard is a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project that seeks to engage youth in real science through the collection, recording, and understanding of precipitation data in the forms of rain, hail, and snow. The partners in this collaboration are the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) and its Museum of the Earth, New York State 4-H, and the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS). The latter is a citizen science project that has participants record precipitation measurements in an online database.

"We teach the teachers," stated Dr. Rob Ross, associate director for outreach at PRI. "The participants in these trainings go back to their home groups and use the tools and the curriculum that we've created to teach their constituents about weather and climate in ways that best fits with their needs." Nancy Robertson, a 4-H educator in Saratoga County and is attending next weeks workshop for the second year, believes that this program "fulfills a need in the local 4-H community." She goes on to say, "The information and activities have been useful. It has made me more secure in my knowledge of weather and sparked my interest to learn more. The basics of atmospheric pressure and temperature fluctuation are very important to understand, especially now."

The purpose of this project and its associated curriculum is to encourage youth, specifically ages 8-12, to better understand the scientific process by engaging in it themselves through the collection and understanding of meteorological data in their community. By following the precipitation measurement guidelines of CoCoRaHS, youth develop an understanding of scientific methods and standardization, and by recording their precipitation records (including recording the lack of precipitation), they recognize the importance of accurate data collection. Finally, by importing their data into a national database, they can see how their community precipitation data compares to communities near and far. Their data is then analyzed by scientists to better understand the spatial variability of precipitation and develop warning systems for flooding and other natural disasters. In particular, hail is very poorly understood in the scientific community, and data provided by public in communities like ours can help illuminate better scientific understanding of hail and of meteorology in general.

Trisha Smercak of PRI believes "that just the idea that youth know that they are contributing to a scientific cause can be tremendously influential.” This workshop, now in its second year, along with this new curriculum gives these participating informal educators the tools they need to go back into their communities and give young people the opportunity to fully participate in real world scientific research.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Wind Power Potential in US Trippled?


The amount of wind power that theoretically could be generated in the United States tripled in the newest assessment of the nation’s wind resources.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wal-Mart Goes Green?

As energy costs rise, a number of businesses are looking to gain a competitive edge by increasing their environmental efficiency. Most recently, Wal-Mart, in collaboration with the Environmental Defense Fund, is asking its suppliers to reduce their carbon footprints by cutting down on wasteful packaging, using alternative fuel in trucks, and improving store efficiency. Wal-Mart’s goal is to cut 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2015.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Earth Hour 2010

At 8.30pm (local time) on Saturday 27 March, the greatest show on Earth for action on climate change will take place in homes, office buildings, town halls and public places around the globe as lights go out for Earth Hour 2010.

With 807 cities, towns and municipalities and 82 countries across every continent already signed up, Earth Hour 2010 is set to show the world that a resolution to the threat of global warming is possible through collective action.

Museum of the Earth is excited to once again take part in this international initiative. It's not just museums, countries, or municipalities that are taking part, but it's for everyone! Will you join us in turning off your lights and powering down your electronics for one hour?

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