Class 5-503: Thoughts about Our Study of Environmental Issues
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 portaportal.com 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!