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Class 5-503: Thoughts about Our Study of Environmental Issues

June 10, 2009

This spring, we have been studying environmental issues, such as species loss (endangered and extinct animals) and climate change (global warming).  The students and I have learned lots of new and surprising things along the way.  I have asked them to reflect on our work by writing down things that were interesting or surprising and their personal thoughts on the issues.  Below is a draft of my thoughts:

My name is Mrs. Caputo and our environmental study made me realize how FAST climate change is occurring.  I knew that natural climate change happens over a long period of time, but I couldn’t imagine how much faster it is occurring because of humans.

In Greenland, 100 billion tons of ice are lost each year.  By the year 2050, we are predicted to lose sea ice equal to an area six times the state of California.  By 2100, sea levels could rise more than three feet.  I never thought about the fact that in some areas of the world, people are experiencing lots of heavy rain and flooding in lakes and on the coastlines.  We saw that the amount of big storms – like hurricanes, earthquakes, and typhoons – has increased dramatically.  We also saw that in the South Pacific, the Cartaret Islands are shrinking.  Animals and people are losing their homes.  But, at the same time, other places are suffering from droughts and water shortages, caused by evaporation of water from rising temperatures.  In Africa, we saw how Lake Chad is disappearing.  It used to be the sixth largest lake in the world – 10,000 square miles in area.  It has shrunk by 90%, or 9,000 square miles.  It is now only 1,000 square miles in size.  That means millions of people are starving and do not have enough clean water.

What makes me most upset about all this is that the United States is one of the biggest contributors to global warming – we make up more than 30% of the problem.  How could we be so careless?  Even worse, we are not even really suffering the effects of global warming as much as other places in the world.  Africa, on the other hand, is the lowest contributor to global warming.  They release the least CO2 in the world and are one of the most vulnerable.  I do not think this is fair!

So, how are we still letting this all happen?  We have the technology and workers to become more earth-friendly…and to make money doing it!  Yet, other countries are taking the lead.  We really need to pressure our elected officials to get industries to make changes.  We also need to let our wallets do the talking – buy from companies that are environmentally responsible.  These are investments in time and money that we need to make now to slow, or stop, global warming…and to prove we are not as selfish as our youth think we are!

Here are the four main videos we watched:

Planet in Peril, CNN

An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore

The Story of Stuff, hosted by Annie Leonard

Renewable Energy, by the History Channel

We used a collection of books and articles in the classroom library as well as pre-selected websites saved on our school’s website, under Get Green for the Environment.  If you want to log in as a guest and check it out, sign in as a guest using “ps124” – there are articles, reports, activities, videos, games, and more!

11 Comments leave one →
  1. June 16, 2009 4:55 pm

    Hi, my name is Betsy and first I am going to talk about factory farming. The only thing good about it is that factory farms give us food, but the really bad things are that they keep animals in cages stuffed together and they slaughter animals. Sometimes animals die or become sick in their cages.
    In the black markets, they sell animals. Sometimes they sell endangered ones. You’ll see monkeys, tiger paws, rabbits, fish, tiger rugs, and other things. They only want the money. And by the time the animal is sent to a customer, it may be sick or already dead.

  2. June 16, 2009 4:57 pm

    My name is Chelsea and this is what I learned from our environmental study:

    – In Greenland, 100 billion tons of ice are lost each year. Right now, it’s 8% hotter than it was 10 years ago. Polar bears are drowning because of the water rising. There’s not enough food anymore so they either eat each other or starve to death.

    – With the endangered species black market, when an animal is being shipped to another place, it has a 90% chance dying. In Cambodia, there are only about 5,000 wild tigers left. They are being trapped. Seven thousand snares, or traps, are found each year.

    – Twenty percent of the Amazon Rain Forest has been lost through the last four years. There are over 1,000 threatened species there.

    – In the United States, there is only 1/3 of our natural resources left. Less than 4% of the original forest remains in the United States. We use up 40% of water in the world. The US releases 4 million pounds of toxic waste each year.

    – Every minute, 2,000 trees are cut down.

    – The US and China give out the most CO2 in the world.

    If we keep destroying our Earth, it’ll be something like this…

    – All glaciers would be gone.
    – There would probably be more deserts.
    – Our food and water supply would be scarce.
    – Most of our animals would be gone.
    – There would be a massive water level rise.
    – Most of the protective ozone layer would be gone.

  3. June 16, 2009 4:58 pm

    My name is Angelisse, and I am studying environmental changes. It made me see that animals are endangered and it’s all because of us humans.
    Polar bears have to eat other polar bears because they don’t have food. They don’t have food because of us. We eat their food. They eat fish and we eat fish. Now, polar bears are on the threatened list by the Federal Endangered Species Act, and they are on the Red list, which is a list of the world’s most imperiled animals. Most polar bears are actually dying because of the melting ice in the Arctic. When the ice melts, polar bears die because, when they are in the water, they sometimes need something to stand on. So, now they really don’t have ice to stand on. Does this make you think? Don’t you think they deserve a good, happy life and not have to eat each other?
    In a black market, they sell endangered animals. This is bad because those animals don’t live for long. For example, some people have caged up bears. Then, after they have it caged up, they kill the bear just to use it for hand mannequins to put hand jewelry on their paws.
    Another example is that tigers are used for furniture, rugs, and clothes. There are only 5,000 wild tigers left in the world. So, if people keep on doing this, it’s going to get worse. They will be extinct.
    So, as you can see, it’s really bad – and it’s all because of us humans. If you care, you would try to do something now! Start by going to to learn more.

  4. June 16, 2009 4:59 pm

    Hi, my name is Sonia. I really didn’t care about the trees, until I watched this video about trees and how we need them to live.

    I want to talk to you about trees and why we need them to breathe and why we need them to live. Without trees, we will be dead. I want you to stop cutting down trees and start planting some. Do you know why? Trees take in bad things and give us clean air. Without trees, we have bad air and little good air.

    I went to my neighbor’s garden and she has a lot of trees and flowers. My grandma plants trees and flowers too. Try to go to the park and do the same if you want your kids to live with clean air.

  5. June 16, 2009 5:00 pm

    Hey! My name is Alicia and I think that studying the environment made a difference in me and in my class, because now I learned that we have done a lot of harm to the Earth.
    We are causing harm by having oil leaks on the ocean, which means that animals are being killed by the oil in the water. For example, fish can’t breathe with oil in their habitat because of all the chemicals. So they die. Then, when birds look for fish in the water, the fish may have chemicals. When the birds eat the fish, the birds could die too. And you could blame it all on the oil leaks we have. We lose fish and birds every time an oil leak occurs.
    When factories and cars release chemicals into the air, it gets the air polluted. It’s not healthy for people to breathe in dirty air. Trees are the ones that do most of the work by cleaning out the air and giving us clean oxygen. Now, more people are polluting and there are less trees because people are logging the trees. This all means we need trees to clean our air and to breathe clean air and be healthy.
    I really never realized how bad global warming was until we started to study the environment. We lose a lot of polar bears because the ice melting. By 2050, we will lose about six times the size of California of ice! That’s how bad global warming is! We are causing hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and more.
    There are also a lot of endangered animals in this world. For example, tigers – there’s only 5,000 wild tigers left in this world. This happens because people hunt animals for fun and use the fur for clothes. Some people kill animals for food. Native Americans hunted animals and they used every piece of it for something. They used the skin for blankets, coats, clothes, and the roof. The meat was used to eat and the bones for weapons. If any animal becomes extinct, it will affect the food chain.
    This environmental study made me realize that we have done many things to hurt the Earth!

  6. June 16, 2009 5:01 pm

    Hi my name is Esmeralda. I’m here to tell you a little bit about the Earth. Isn’t EARTH a small word? But the word ”EARTH” itself has a big meaning. Earth – is the only planet that gives life to us humans and gives life to animals, or creatures. Nature is one out of many important issues of earth. Nature is what gives life to earth by growing plants and is also what gives us oxygen to breathe. Unfortunately, us humans have caused Global Warming which is bad for the earth and especially us.

    We (the US) kill endangered species and also rare species like lemurs and tigers. There might be only 5,000 of a species left in the world. Also, turtles, geckos, bears, and many other animals’ populations are decreasing, but my purpose is to tell you how bad Global Warming is.

    One reason for global warming is because we release gases with carbon dioxide in the air. We cut down trees. Did you know that 2,000 trees are being cut down every single minute?

    The US affects other people in the world, besides people who live in the U.S.A., when we release carbon dioxide. In our country global warming is causing people down south to have tornadoes and hurricanes. Why do you think we have so many more tornadoes close to the U.S.? Because when carbon dioxide rises, it makes the atmosphere hotter, which causes the water to rise to form a tornado. But, luckily, some people in the U.S. are using ways to power factories without using coal and oil. They are not using too much electricity, which saves a lot of $$$. The company, FedEx, in California uses solar roofs to power the machines and save $$$. But, never, ever touch a solar roof. It is SO hot that it can burn your hand!

    Another way that people have figured out to save money and help stop global warming is by changing the gas that most cars use to VEGETABLE oil. Did you know that restaurants have to PAY $$$ just to get rid of their used vegetable oil?! So, the good thing is that people are using the vegetable oil as gas. That pollutes less and saves many restaurants money.

    Another thing we learned about was a person that tried to help the Amazon Rainforest, Sister Dorothy Stang. She made a group to try to stop people from doing more damage to the Amazon. She knew that cutting down so many trees would have bad effects. A way that President Obama is helping to stop climate change is by making and enforcing laws to make cars use less gas. Cars could go the same miles per hour (mph), but on fewer gallons of gas.
    I hope you’ve learned something from this because it’s important to know that we are all trying to help stop pollution and global warming. But, even though if we did stop pollution now, we couldn’t make global warming stop right away. We would just make global warming go slower, which is still better than what we’re doing now. Let’s all pitch in to help – because there’s only ONE Earth and we have to keep it nice and clean.

  7. June 16, 2009 5:02 pm

    Hi, my name is Elijah and as we were doing our environmental study, I learned about global warming, endangered animals, and wind energy.

    Our environment is not good and that it’s getting worse because of global warming. Us humans caused global warming. If we don’t do anything about it, humans will not be able to live on Earth.

    I think that people should stop buying and selling endangered animals. The animals would have a better chance of not becoming extinct. That would keep species alive for our future.

    To help protect the environment, I think that the lawmakers should make a law that people will have to pay if they are overusing things that effect the environment. I think we should protect our land so it can be safe, like how the Kraho people do it in the Amazon Rain Forest. I also think we should do something like the people in Denmark because they created and are really using wind turbines. The turbine helps stop global warming, and it’s good because they get money for it. People like that life because it helps prevent global warming from getting worse, and they get electricity from the wind. Some people say that wind turbines are bad because when birds run into the turbines, but we found out that they really go around them so few are killed.

  8. June 16, 2009 5:03 pm

    Hi my name is Katherine. I have never really cared about the endangered animals, but now knowing more about them, I care so much. When I used to hear that there are like 900 of a particular animal in the world, I always thought that was a lot, but the world is a big place – and compared to all the other animals in the world, 900 is a little bit. Some animals are so endangered you probably never even heard of them.

    For example, a lynx is very endangered because it is being hunted. An ocelot is endangered animal because of habitat destruction and hunting. This might seem like nothing to you, but it is so important. You might think this doesn’t effect you, but it will, because if one animal dies, an animal that eats that will die and maybe it will be an animal you eat.

    So, whenever you hear about an endangered animal, you should research it and try to learn more about it. You should also try to help that animal and others like it. I hope by reading my piece I persuaded you to help endangered animals.

  9. June 16, 2009 5:04 pm

    Hi, my name is Tatiana. My class and I are doing the best we can to help our world. You should too! Well, what I noticed is that many people are killing animals and they shouldn’t be.

    For example, if a family goes hunting for deer to eat and they only have two people in the family, it’s not right if the dad goes out and kills five! They only needed deer for one day, so what happened to all that leftover meat? It probably rotted and they didn’t know what to do with it. They killed deer for nothing! It’s the point of them over-killing and killing many deer so that they can’t reproduce enough.
    I also don’t like the fact that people think that they can just come and kill wildlife and sell them at a black market! That is really mean and most of the time the animals are rare and don’t have any place to go because of the loss of their habitat! I am really mad because many people see and hear what’s going on and may also be involved in it! They don’t do any thing to stop it!

  10. June 16, 2009 5:05 pm

    My name is Dalia and this is some of what I learned in our environmental study about the earth. Did you know that the Amazon Rain Forest is losing animals? 1/4 of the animals are still alive. If you research the lemur, you can see there are only about 25 left in Madagascar.

    In about 50 years, 2/3 of polar bears are going to be gone. In Alaska, the polar bears are drowning. Why? Well, they are drowning because the water is rising. The ice where they live is melting and turning into water. Also, the polar bears are killing each other for some food. People do check on the polar bears because if the polar bear is not healthy, then the food chain will not be very great. The food chain is a chain when one animal eats another animal, and other animal eats that animal, and so on.

    In the Amazon Rain Forest 90% of the land is taken. So that means that there is only 10% of the forest left. If trees are cut down, how are some animals going to live. If you can guess how many trees are cut down, it will surprise you. In every minute, there are 2,000 trees cut down. Some animals that are endangered, like lemurs and turtles in Madagascar, need trees. Also, did you know that there are only about 5,000 wild tigers? Did you ever see an elephant? Well, you now know that there are only 200-300 left.

    40% of the world’s water is undrinkable. Some people die or get cancer because they drink dirty water. Some farmers have to water their crops with dirty water. Then people eat some food that is not healthy. Animals also drink that water. Then we kill that animal to eat or another animal gets it. Those people or animals get sick and die.

    We buy a lot of stuff and we shop a lot. Do you know how much you throw away? You throw out 99% of what you buy. The more people come into the world, the more we use up. Some say that in 2050 there is going to be 9.1 billion people living in the world. Now you can see how much garbage we are throwing out.

    I hope you learned some things that you didn’t know. If you think this is bad, why don’t you start making a difference in the world. Everyone counts. It is not hard, you can…. turn off the lights when you are not using them. Or you can reuse things that you were going to throw out. Find something else to use it for. Also, buy fewer things and make less garbage. Did you know that some garbage gets put underground? Just like every animal counts, every human counts. Start today before things get any worse. We are not being fair to the world!

  11. June 16, 2009 7:28 pm

    Ms. Caputo’s Class,
    I am so impressed by your work!

    You are setting a great example for the rest of the students at PS 124. This is the type of work that PS 124 wants to represent them to the world through this website!

    You will be remembered for these posts in the future on this blog!

    Good luck in middle school! Come back to this website and tell us when you publish your next online writing piece!

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