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Five Short Similes for Teaching Children about Climate Change Steven McNulty, Ph.D. USDA Forest Service Raleigh, North Carolina

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Presentation on theme: "Five Short Similes for Teaching Children about Climate Change Steven McNulty, Ph.D. USDA Forest Service Raleigh, North Carolina"— Presentation transcript:

1 Five Short Similes for Teaching Children about Climate Change Steven McNulty, Ph.D. USDA Forest Service Raleigh, North Carolina

2 Background 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 “ 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

3 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

4 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

5 Simile 1: The (REALLY) Big Blanket Factory

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7 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

8 Once the blankets are made, the are transported up into the sky (think atmospheric FEDEX) Source: Climate Change Impacts on the US, NAST, 2000

9 The more blankets, the more the heat trapped underneath (just like on your bed) Source: Climate Change Impacts on the US, NAST, 2000

10 How warm would you be if you doubled the number of blankets on your bed and crawled underneath them?

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12 But that’s only half the story….

13 Simile 2: Steve’s Hill Slope Stairs Project

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19 Change Variability Variability v. Change as Illustrated by Steve’s hill slope stairs project Bottom of Hill (current climate)‏ Top of Hill (Future climate)‏

20 Climate change will be highly variable over space and time! Source: Climate Change Impacts on the US, NAST, 2001

21 IPCC world CC map

22 Simile 3: A Clint Eastwood Movie

23 Scene 1: The Good (at least in the short-term)

24 Change in Forest Productivity from 1982 to 1999 Nemani et al., Science June 6 th 2003

25 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.

26 Spring bud-burst dates for Aspen in Edmonton

27 Sweetgum Iverson et. al GTR NE265

28 Loblolly pine Iverson et. al GTR NE265

29 Scene 2: The Bad

30 Sugar maple Iverson et. al GTR NE265

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35 Scene 3: The Ugly

36 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) Karl et al BW 7

37 Areas of Soil Erosion By 2030 On UNF

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40 Large scale (> 400 ac) Wildfires and Air Temperature From Westerling et al. 2005

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43 BLEACHING OF CORAL REEFS BY OCEAN TEMPS > 85deg F (29 deg C)

44 Locations of Coral Reef Bleaching

45 Simile 4: My Brothers Car

46 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).

47 Simile 5: The Last Great Act of Defiance (Actions that can reduce global warming)

48 Censored! 130 years of CO2 emissions Our children

49 RECYCLE!!!

50 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.

51 Compact Fluorescents 100W of light for 23W Refrigerators 1979 Model – 1440 KWh/yr 2002 Model KWh/yr Low E Argon windows 94% Efficient furnaces and water heaters

52 This is what Europeans are encouraged to drive, the new Mercedes built “Smart-car” This is what Americans drive

53 Thank you for your indulgence!


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