Dr. Steve McNulty - NSTA Learning Center

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Transcript Dr. Steve McNulty - NSTA Learning Center

Five Short Similes for
Teaching Children about Climate
Steven McNulty, Ph.D.
USDA Forest Service
Raleigh, North Carolina
[email protected]
“Everything should be made as simple as possible,
but not simpler “” Albert Einstein
One way to simplify a complex processes, event or
condition is to use a simile
Similes are basically just short stories that relate one thing
(e.g., object, event, place, person) to another thing. In this
lecture, we will relate something complex (i.e. climate change
and climate change impacts) to something simple to make it
easier to understand and remember
Lecture Objective
To use a five short similes to help explain
a few of the key components of climate change,
and climate change impacts on ecosystems
Five Similes for this Lecture
• The (REALLY) Big Blanket
• Steve’s Hill Slope Stairs Project
• A Clint Eastwood Movie
• My Brothers Car
• Last Great Act of Defiance*
* Not classroom suitable
Simile 1:
The (REALLY) Big Blanket Factory
Think of the burning fossil fuels like making billions
of blankets to go up into the sky
Source: Climate Change Impacts on the US, NAST, 2000
Once the blankets are made, the are transported up
into the sky (think atmospheric FEDEX)
Source: Climate Change Impacts on the US, NAST, 2000
The more blankets, the more the heat trapped
underneath (just like on your bed)
Source: Climate Change Impacts on the US, NAST, 2000
How warm would you be if you doubled the
number of blankets on your bed and crawled
underneath them?
But that’s only half the story….
Simile 2:
Steve’s Hill Slope Stairs Project
Top of Hill (Future climate)
Variability v. Change
as Illustrated by Steve’s
hill slope stairs project
Bottom of Hill (current climate)
Climate change will be highly variable over
space and time!
Source: Climate Change Impacts on the US, NAST, 2001
IPCC world CC map
Simile 3:
A Clint Eastwood Movie
Scene 1: The Good
(at least in the short-term)
Change in Forest Productivity from 1982 to 1999
Nemani et al., Science June 6th 2003
The increase in growing season length over the last 50 years averaged for eight
stations in Alaska having the longest and most consistent temperature records.
Spring bud-burst dates for Aspen in Edmonton
Iverson et. al GTR NE265
Loblolly pine
Iverson et. al GTR NE265
Scene 2:
The Bad
Sugar maple
Iverson et. al GTR NE265
Scene 3:
The Ugly
Percent of the continental USA with a much above normal proportion of
total annual precipitation from 1-day extreme events
(more than 2 inches or 50.8mm)
BW 7
Karl et al. 1996
Areas of Soil Erosion By 2030 On UNF
Large scale (> 400 ac) Wildfires and Air Temperature
From Westerling et al. 2005
85deg F (29 deg C)
Locations of Coral Reef Bleaching
Simile 4:
My Brothers Car
A car should have its oil changed every 3000 miles. If you
wait until 5000 miles its probably still OK. If you wait until
30,000 there will probably be some damage done to the
cars engine, but it can probably be fixed even though it will be
expensive. If you wait until 100,000 miles, the car will
probably be broken and very, very expensive to fix, or
it may not be fixable at all.
Global warming is the same way, the longer we wait, the
More expensive it will be to fix (if at all).
Simile 5:
The Last Great Act of Defiance
(Actions that can reduce global warming)
130 years of CO2 emissions
Our children
Tell your parents what you learned!!
-There is still some wrong information that is being
passed around about climate change and its impacts.
You can help to educate your parents with the truth
about climate change.
94% Efficient furnaces
and water heaters
Compact Fluorescents 100W
of light for 23W
Low E Argon windows
1979 Model – 1440 KWh/yr
2002 Model - 480 KWh/yr
This is what Europeans are
encouraged to drive, the new
Mercedes built “Smart-car”
This is what Americans drive
Thank you for your indulgence!