Sunday, December 5, 2010

Module VIII

How are Arctic sea-ice, climate and culture all connected?

1.  Explain: What new learning or reflections have you taken from this module?

From NASA’s 2009 polar crash test, I was surprised to learn water was found on the moon—surprised it hadn’t been found earlier, but also surprised that it’s there in the first place.  Now my curiosity is peaked with the scientists’ theories as to just how it got there.  

I read “The Climate Fix” book summary by Brendan Barrett, “What kind of climate fix would you prefer?” in a link from Our World 2.0 and am inspired to read it.  I have found this Explore Alaska course to be mighty depressing in its focus on global warming & climate change, and am hopeful that maybe there is some solution?  I am looking forward to some free time in the future (When will that be, you ask?  June, perhaps?!), and will keep my eyes out for this book.  Has anyone else read it? 
As far as the website, it looks very inspiring for a class.  I am considering this as a guide for developing a 7 week unit “Environmental Science” and choosing several of the article links to use.  I will implement this in the final project, I think.

The TD video “Hunters Navigate Warming Arctic” displayed Jamese Mike’s notes written in what I presume to be Inuit.  I didn’t realize there was a written Inuit language—I thought it was strictly an oral or spoken language.  It looked to be very image or picture-like, reminding me of Egyptian hieroglyphics.  Very interesting!

Arctic Climate Systems video elaborates quite a bit on the possible outcomes of global climate change into the future, providing some interesting scenarios: significant melting of permafrost causing a “burp” of greenhouse gases, permanent alteration to or even halting the ocean’s currents,  etc.  Each of the TD videos thus far has mentioned the impact to animals (i.e. polar bears need the sea ice to hunt for food) over and over again, but this video actually went into depth about the possible (catastrophic) effects to Earth’s systems in far more detail, which I appreciate.

TD video “How the Arctic Ecosystem Might Change” helped me realize how a system with low biodiversity such as the Arctic really cannot bounce back from change the way a biodiverse system can—that it’s fragile.  I hadn’t really considered the Arctic food chain before, but now in considering it for the first time I can see just how few species do rely on each other for food, so with even a slight change, it can be catastrophic to the ecosystem.

2.  Extend: How might you use this week’s information and resources in your lessons?  What other resources can you share?
I will definitely use the “Phun Physics of Phase Change Lab” in my classroom, as it demonstrates all too well what will happen if we lose our Arctic ice.  Yikes!  Too scary.

3.  Evaluate:  How useful, insightful or relevant are this module’s information and resources?

Like past modules, the information overall was very valuable for my knowledge & learning but specific to what I teach, it is less appropriate.  I find myself applying this course to my daily thoughts a lot when it comes to human impact—I am constantly mentally processing this!  It’s overwhelming, but important awareness on my part, nonetheless. I keep thinking about our responsibility in all of this & how we aren’t really changing or improving our behaviors: great—companies make us feel better about buying their “green” products, but really all we are doing is kidding ourselves.  There’s another plastic bottle; there’s another car produced (though it may be more fuel efficient, there are still all the parts produced in order to manufacture it). Ugh! 

And spending last week in Hawaii (we flew to Honolulu & spent 9 days in Ko Olina, about 30 minutes outside the city) really got me thinking about this disconnect people living in warmer climates around the globe have with the effects of global warming.  ‘So some polar bears and seals might die, so what?’ they might think.  But once people learn the catastrophic effects losing the Arctic’s ice will have on Earth’s ability to thermo-regulate—wow!  What a sharp wake-up-call. 

I was surprised how everyone drives on Oahu—with the warm temperatures year-round I would expect to see more people walking and biking.  Honestly, I think I saw more people ride bikes in Fairbanks in the winter when I lived there than I saw on Oahu last week.  It’s sad, really.

We preferred to go strollin’, swimmin’, and snorklin’ while we were there!
By the way, that’s the ‘Black Pearl’ pirate ship from “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies in the background.  It was harbored in the Ko Olina boat harbor while we there for filming that had been done recently.  Kinda cool!

Here is a beautiful Hawaiian sunset. . . ah, the warm breeze of 85 degrees in November.  What a great reprieve from the mundane of home!

3 Colleagues
I visited Konrad Mittelstadt’s blog & was surprised to learn about a permafrost tunnel in Fairbanks.  I lived in Fairbanks for five years while going to college & never knew about this tunnel!  How cool to have toured it.  I’m jealous of you, Konrad!

Alicia Weaver was creative with her name of Module VIII:  Ice Ice Baby” with a great picture of a helicopter flying by ice in Alaska—TONS of ice, I might add! 

I was just as shocked by “High Levels of PCBs in Breast Milk of Inuit Women in Arctic Quebec” as Lila Lee.  That’s crazy how much higher!  How disappointing that doing what is supposed to be best for a baby (“Breast is Best!”) is really not for them.  The article was published in 1989, so I’m curious how things have changed (perhaps worse, now?).  It gets me wondering about my diet of subsistence, as we eat a lot of Kenai River salmon throughout the year—I’d sure like to know what my blood levels of toxic compounds are (or maybe I don’t. . . ).

1 comment:

  1. Alison,

    Life is rough, getting to spend some time in Hawaii. It is sad how much of a disconnect there is from global warming when you get to warmer climes, though I find a pretty big disconnect right here in Alaska with the Kenai students, as well. Drill, baby, drill!