My Personal Connection to Climate Change

Climate change is something that I have known about since late elementary or early middle school. My generation grew up as part of the climate change movement.  We have seen all the different ways the world has dealt with it, and the different stages of realization, including denial and fear.  Because of this, I feel like my generation is somewhat desensitized to the idea of Climate Change. I learned about climate change at a much younger age than my parent’s did, but for me personally, I don’t believe that this has greatly effected the way I see climate change.  If anything, it has made it easier for me to repress the fear and anxiety caused by the knowledge that climate change is a real threat.  When you hear about it enough, the issue seems so big that instead of being motivated to change it, it is easier to accept it as an unfortunate fate.   This isn’t something I’m proud of, it is just something I have noticed, and I am working on finding ways to be productive towards this issue instead of passive.

Despite the way I sometimes feel towards my reaction towards it, climate change plays a fairly big role in my family’s life.  My grandfather is a political scientist and has been focusing all of his research, energy, and money on global climate change over the past few years. “Global warming” and “climate change” are heard frequently at family gatherings, even casually over dinner.  However, I have only recently, for the past two or three years, begun to ask my grandfather about his work on my own time in hopes of learning more about what his goals are and what I can do to help.

My grandfather’s overall goal is to find a way to get people concerned about climate change in a healthy and productive way, enough for them to help to stop and ideally reverse the damage we have already done.  He often says that you can divide the world’s population into very specific groups: 1) those who don’t believe in climate change, 2) those who know that it exists, but feel indifferent towards it, 3) those who see it as a threat, but are not actively doing anything about it, and 4) those who are actively trying to do something about global climate change.  My grandfather believes that group 2 and 3 make up the largest parts of the population. As a political scientist, he believes that this has a lot to do with the flaws in our current democratic process and how many people feel they do not have a voice or are being fed misinformation from the big political parties.

My grandfather created the The Citizen’s Jury process in the 70s.  He is still actively working on the process, focusing on how to make it useful for getting people involved and interested in climate change. The Citizen’s Jury process is too lengthy and involved to talk about in this blog post, but you can read more about it here: http://jefferson-center.org/.  In a nutshell- it’s a process that is designed to give Americans from all walks of life an equal chance to become educated and share their opinions on the current big issues. Here are some links to climate specific projects that my grandfather is currently involved in:

http://jefferson-center.org/what-we-do/current-projects/rural-climate-dialogues/

http://jefferson-center.org/morris-area-climate-dialogue/

I didn’t write this post with intent to brag about my family’s environmental conscience.  In fact, my immediate family is pretty average when it comes to how we deal with climate change and the environment, and although we try to do what we can to help reduce our carbon footprint, we still fall into that big percentage of people who believe that climate change is a threat, but do not always feel like we know how to make a difference. However, my grandfather stands out in all of that as part of the percent who is actively working to help.  I personally admire his approach to issues like this and hope that I can work with that same sort of integrity and ambition toward something as big, scary, and vital to our existence as climate change.

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My grandpa, Ned Crosby, talking about his work over coffee with a friend. 

– Jay

Ocean Acidification

Although I’ve been aware of climate change for a long time, its effect on the ocean apart from water levels rising never really occurred to me. I was surprised to hear about the ocean becoming more acidic, as it was something that’s never been brought up to me before, and it made me realize that climate change isn’t’ only effecting those on land. Now that I’m living in a coastal area, the problem seems that much more close to home. And although the changing oceans might not seem like a big deal to many, when you look closer you’ll see that not only does it have a huge impact on marine life, but on humans as well.

With climate change comes rising levels of carbon dioxide being trapped in the atmosphere. Although trees are seen as the primary source for absorbing carbon dioxide, the ocean does it’s part as well – not to mention that there’s much more carbon dioxide to absorb and less trees to do it thanks to deforestation. When the ocean has to absorb so much carbon dioxide, it’s pH level lowers.

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By 2100, which isn’t far away in the grand scheme of things, it’s estimated that the ocean could become up to 150 times as acidic as it is now – which is more than it has been since over 20 million years ago. With this all happening in such a condensed period of time, it’s logical to say that the marine creatures won’t have time to adapt. Shell forming creatures like lobsters, shrimp, and plankton will take the biggest hit – acidity makes it much harder for their shells to form, because of the chemical reactions causing acidity in turn cause calcium carbonate (a major component of marine shells and skeletons) to dissolve. When these major food sources start decreasing, so will those who feed off of them.

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An example of  how a shell would dissolve in the predicted ph level for 2100. Credit to NOAA.

Another thing that the acidification leads to is acidosis. This causes a buildup of carbonic acid in the body fluids of marine animals, which leads to many problems, like a lowered immune system, reproductive issues, or even death. Yet another consequence of the acidity is that sounds can travel farther in water with lower pH levels (expected to be up to 70% faster by 2100). This can interfere with the communication of marine animals, like whales.

But how will this affect us?

Well, whether you eat fish or not, billions of people rely on them and their fellow marine animals as their main source of food. Providing food for the planet is already an issue – what would happen if all seafood was taken out of the equation? It would likely be a lot more drastic than you’d think. People would be out of food, out of jobs and an incredible ecosystem could be destroyed. Hopefully with lowering pollution that adds even more carbon dioxide, and helping keep the natural systems of the ocean, like fish populations, healthy and thriving we can help combat this issue.

-Catrina Miccicke

I encourage you to watch this video if you’d like to learn more –

Acid Test: The Global Challenge of Ocean Acidification

Further Reading:

What is Ocean Acidification? – NOAA

Ocean Acidification and Climate Change – Center for Ocean Solutions

Oceans and Climate Change – EPA

 

Trip to South Lido Beach!

A week ago, our Biodiversity class took a little trip down to South Lido Beach Park to examine the surroundings of the ecosystem. I lived in Florida for long time so I have already seen most of the things around here, but still it was interesting. We got to see a lot of different kinds of habitat as well of a lot of different animals.

The trip was amazing though, especially when I saw the sea turtle nest. I’ve heard about those when I took marine biology in high school. It was so cool to see it with my own eyes, i wished I had the chance to see them when they hatch.

I enjoyed experiencing the wild life.

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Photo: http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g34618-d531723-i66025588-South_Lido_Park-Sarasota_Florida.html

South Lido Beach Exploration

Our Biodiversity class took a trip down to South Lido Beach Park last week to get a glimpse of the surrounding ecosystem. This was quite interesting and we got to see a to see a lot of different habitats as well as a lot of different wildlife. I was glad we were getting to do something like this because I am originally from Texas and things like this are not too common over there.

While walking up and down the beach I saw stingrays, lots of jellyfish, and a few other smaller fish swimming about. I also saw a wide variety of birds and insects. This was my first time to this beach in particular, so all of this was pretty new to me, especially the mangrove tunnels. As we came close to the end of our walk we got to see quite a bit of these tunnels and got to see some of the fish that lived within them.

One thing in particular that came to my mind while walking up and down the beach was the lack of shells. The one thing I like to do when I go to the beach is go shell hunting, so of course I was looking around a little bit, and there was actually not much at all. This was a big surprise to me, just because usually all the beaches in florida are covered in them. I wonder why this one was not, maybe it was the time of day, or maybe I just hadn’t looked hard enough. This is something possibly worth looking into.

Overall, the trip really opened my eyes. I got to see a lot of things that I don’t get to see everyday, and I got to experience some wildlife close up for the first time. I will definitely be going back to South Lido soon for some more exciting adventures.

Seagulls: Needy Nuisances

Whitby by Nuwandalice via Flickr

Whitby by Nuwandalice via Flickr

During our trip to Lido we saw our fair share of seagulls; in fact there were so many that, as we were told, the water at North Lido wasn’t even swimmable due to excess bacteria from the nesting seagulls. I had always considered the sea bird a nuisance, but this was quite the development to me. With the bird’s inherent flock mentality, seagulls and their filth will always travel en masse, causing problems for coastal cities that have to deal with them daily, something I hadn’t considered.

In researching the bird I found there are many pest control services dedicated to the “expulsion” of seagulls and other nuisance birds and creatures, expulsion meaning that a spray of Methyl Anthranilate is used in the flock area which encourages the birds to move elsewhere. There are other methods to keep the gulls at bay as well like the “Daddi Long Leg”, a spindly object placed on top of street lights, roofs, or any other flat surface. There is also a more advanced method that plays the sounds of predatory birds, and pairs that with large balloons or menacing silhouettes to emulate their predators.

It’s pretty neat that even though sea gulls are annoying and nothing but a nuisance to us, that humane action against them seems to be the weapon of choice, rather than eradication. We should keep the continuity of our ecosystems balanced, so to treat the birds fairly is an important step to preserving the ecosystem around us.

The Floating Forests

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Last week my class went to south lido beach to walk around and explore. We ended up seeing a lot of pretty cool things, like a couple dolphins, jellyfish, and fish. What caught my eye though were the mangroves. Not until that day did I realize how important mangroves are to an ecosystem until Mrs. Gore informed us.

Mangroves are referred as “floating forests” due to the fact that they occupy both land and water. These mangroves were everywhere. You can basically think of them like coral reefs. They are the home to many different types of fish, shrimp, mollusks, and crabs, which means it is a valuable food source for the communities like us who live nearby and other animals around the area.   Mangrove forests are so abundant with life that a study shows that there are 25 times more fish of some species on reefs closer to mangroves than mangroves that are cut down.

Mangroves are not just the homes to marine life, but they also help trap sediments from flowing so that the coastlines are erosion free. The root systems of the mangroves also help prevent hurricanes from severe damage from the coast.   The wood and plants of mangroves are also very valuable. Some of the communities around mangrove ecosystems can use the wood for construction because of its resistance to rot and insects. So because these amazing mangrove systems are so diverse with life, it brings a lot of tourism into its area.

Seeing all of the mangrove tunnels make me want to eventually grab some friends and go kayaking through them. I cannot imagine how many different marine life I would see. The trip to the beach definitely made me want to explore these mangroves more. What a cool experience that must be!

South Lido Beach : Great Things I Learned

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South Lido Beach!

Last time, we went to South Lido Beach for exploring and learn about ecosystem in this beach. Honestly, I’ve been in Sarasota for four years until now but it was only second time that I visited beach. Sand was so soft, beach was so pretty, and there were some new things I have never know. I think ocean has so large mysterious things that people don’t know.

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Protection for Sea Turtles’ egg

The greatest thing I learned in this day was about sea turtles’ egg. In Lido Beach, sea turtles hatch their egg under the sand but they are endangered now and anything (wild animals, people, even weather) can threats their egg so people are trying to protect them. I thought it is really good thing people can do for animals.. I liked how they check them periodically. Actually I couldn’t see sea turtles that time but I really hope to see them some other day.

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A Fisherman and a White Crane

The second thing what I really liked was on this photo above. A fisherman was fishing and a white crane was waiting for him to catch some fish. They didn’t be afraid of fisherman, I liked how they stand together and the fisherman gave some small fish to the crane.

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Last thing was interesting too. It’s mangrove forest around Lido Beach. I read that Mangroves are tropical plants that have adapted to the loose, wet soils of our coastline, as well as salt water and tidal surges that frequent Lido Key. There are more than 50 species of mangroves throughout the world, with 3 species that are native Florida. Also, they are important because Mangroves have been a highly regarded part of Sarasota’s aquatic ecosystem and have played a major role in the conservation of its coastline. It was quite interesting for me because it was the first time to see mangroves.

by Jamie Kong

South Lido: In a new environment

margrove

Photo by me 

Normally I don’t enjoy going to the beaches, however I find it quite interesting being able to see some new things at the South Lido beach in Sarasota. Having to live in a city for most of my life, I didn’t get the chance to see such things like a mangrove tunnel or a sea turtle’s nest. People do say both of those exist in Taiwan, however I have never once seen them there.

Searching up about the mangrove tunnels, I have found that they are a group of about 80 different kind of trees having their roots grow partially above the ground. Eighty different kinds of trees. It really is very impressing how so many trees are able to survive in the salt water. It surely is amusing how they are able to exchange carbon dioxide gas and water vapor during the photosynthesis.

Their ecosystem are also found to be complex since they provides food and shelters for both species under and above the water helping them to hide from the predators. However, over the decades, large number of mangrove tunnels were getting destroying that nearly 35% of them were gone.

turtle

Photo by me 

Although the mangrove tunnel was something amusing to know about, I was more entertained by the nest of the sea turtles. I did know sea turtles lay eggs on the shore in a hole they dug out to protect their eggs and that the female enters back into the water once it is finishing laying and hiding them, however I have ever seen a nest of a sea turtle before. Actually, I have never seen a sea turtle outside a zoo before. Though there were oceans nearby where I lived, it was occupied by us humans that you could barely see any animals except for seagulls.

It is quite depressing how sea turtles are one of the endangered species. People hunt them for their eggs, meat, skin, and shells. Same goes with other predators aiming for the just born baby sea turtles. Over the decades the climax has changed greatly that it has also caused impact on these turtles’ nesting sites. But it was glad to see that there were volunteers to protect their nests. To look over them until they hatch and helping those hatched baby turtles to safely travel into the water.

Down By the Sea: South Lido Beach Park

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the beach

Recently, our class went to South Lido Park. Cool place – never been there before then, but considering my outdoorsy roommate, I’m likely to find myself there again before next school year. It’d be nice if we go kayaking – it’d be interesting to get to go through the mangroves to see how they look from the inside.

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mangroves

It was all in all a fun experience, not to mention it’s always nice to go to class out of classroom for once. I haven’t had one of those since that awful perspective class what seems like eons ago; the last actual field trip I had was out to Big Cat Habitat (which was equally fun)

I did manage to accidentally step on one of those awful little torture balls of surprisingly sharp needles. I’d say it was like getting stabbed by a cactus, but ten times stickier and more painful. But enough complaining, because I did actually enjoy going. It was one of those kind of days that awk?was just perfect for walking around – not too hot or sunny, with a sweet little breeze just blowing through.

I don’t really know too much about animals or plant life, but I do like looking for them. Aside from the mangroves though, nothing plant-wise really stuck with me. The animal life was pretty awesome though. Encountered quite a few dead jellyfish. Poked one that was still alive with my toe. (Apparently somebody saw dolphins? Must’ve been before I got to the park. Oh well.) Got to see a nest of turtle eggs, which technically was a little sandy hill under a cage. Still, I’ve never seen them so up close. I can’t imagine anyone wanting the graveyard shift anywhere, but it must be pretty amazing to get to witness turtles hatching. It’s kind of sad that they’re so endangered that they need people to watch over the babies just to make sure that they don’t die horribly before getting into the water.

Another interesting thing was the birds. My roommate had pointed out that an osprey (or was it a seahawk?) had managed to catch a fish, and that it had flown up into the trees to eat it. I’m a little disappointed that I missed it. The other birds that I saw as we walked along the sea tended to stand beside fisherman. Clever. I wonder if the fishermen ever got annoyed that the birds would try to steal their catches.

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fisherman and bird

Manatees like to come here, it seems. Not surprising – last year I lived at the Cove on campus, which is right by the river. Manatees come by occasionally and eat the trash floating around there. I remember being really horrified when I saw it happen, and then feeling really annoyed at the people living nearby. Seriously, what kind of jerks just decide to throw trash in the water when they’re literally standing less than twenty feet away from their houses, where there are bound to be trashcans? If they can’t find it in themselves to keep the area clean, they ought to be ashamed of themselves for their sheer laziness.

source for photos: all taken by me