Climate Change Before Our Eyes: cool museums for summer exploring

23/07/2012 by admin

Climate change is happening right now! It is making our oceans warmer
and more acidic, increasing the frequency of extreme weather events,
changing patterns of wildlife behavior, and more.  You can see how
this is happening in dramatic photos and a revolving slide show in a
special exhibit at the Nature Research Center in the new wing of the
Raleigh Natural Science Museum, in North Carolina. The Nature Research
Center opened in April 2012.

Slide Show at the Nature Research Center of the Raleigh Natural Science Museum

It features research labs where scientists from the Museum, University
of North Carolina system schools, the Department of Environment &
Natural Resources, or visiting scientists from industry or agency
partners, conduct their research. Visitors to the museum can watch the
scientists through the glass walls of the labs.  Author Caroline Arnold visited
the museum with her family who enjoyed all the special exhibits as well
as watching science in action in the labs.

Meanwhile, illustrator Jamie Hogan visited the Science Museum of Minnesota with her family, discovering an exhibit called Future Earth, with the same themes involving climate change. This large globe changed color from blue to light green, with a time lapse of the acid level changes from the early 1900’s to 2082. It was a striking visual morphing, showing our pearly blue planet shifting to a pale chartreuse.

Globe showing acid levels changing in the Future Earth exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota

Another concrete revelation was the idea of the earth’s atmosphere being the equivalent of fuzz on a peach. Seriously?

Another graphic explained that the Earth’s atmosphere is 62 miles, taking only an hour to drive directly into outer space. All of our human activity is within the first seven miles. Wow. How thin our skin truly is. Our sky is not so boundless after all.

Try finding a nature center or science museum near you, and discover your own leaps of knowledge. Given how warm the summer has been, they are always cool places to be. Climate change science is appearing near you, right before our eyes.

As Mark Bittman said recently in his New York Times column, The Endless Summer, “All of this is the tip of the iceberg, and the iceberg is, of course, melting.”

This polar bear on display looks mighty mad. I would be too, if my iceberg was melting!

art and science

11/06/2012 by admin

illustration by Isabelle Cadene

I met Isabelle Cadene at a book event recently. She showed me her sketchbook and other work she’s proud of. How fantastic to meet another artist interested in the environment! The above art by Isabelle won 1st place in the Computer Graphics category of the 2012 Marine Art Contest for the 20th anniversary of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, where Isabelle had visited on a field trip with her school. She’s 13 and loves making all manner of art, and she loves animals. In that, she shares quite a bit in common with author Caroline Arnold and myself, the illustrator of A Warmer World.

Listen to this podcast in which Caroline talks about her passions for cats and birds, animals that fueled her interest in both writing and art. Oh, and she’s married to a scientist. Think of the cross-disciplinary chats they must have!

Art and science should mix more often. At Rhode Island School of Design, where I earned a BFA in illustration, they are plugging an initiative before legislators to add A (for ART) to the STEM curriculum focus: science, technology, engineering and math. It should be STEAM.

We’ll need LOTS of  steam to tackle the problem of climate change.

Here are some RISD grads who are innovating in diverse ways:

Fed up with trash? Try wearing it, like Trashion.

Tired of traffic? Try some personal mobility, like motorized skates: Spnkix.

Sick of yet more stupid plastic toys? Try playing with natural patterns: 2ndnature!

We can change our world, just imagine it. Meanwhile, try drawing it, like Isabelle.

World Oceans Day!

08/06/2012 by admin

detail from an illustration by Jamie Hogan for A Warmer World by Caroline Arnold

Celebrate World Oceans Day today! Go here to find out what’s happening near you.

I live and work on the edge of the ocean, and my daughter crosses Casco Bay twice a day to go to school. My way of celebrating this day is to walk along the beach and pick up any plastic or trash I find. Actually I do this every day, it’s become a habit. I find lost soles of shoes, plastic bottles, candy wrappers, and sometimes bait bags.

I’d love to hear what YOU find on the beach!

Recently, I attended an event in Portland , Maine called “Warmer, Wetter, Wilder” sponsored by Clean Air Cool Planet. The guest of honor was the Ambassador from Norway, Wegger Strommen, who began by saying “Any excuse to go to Maine would be good enough.” He arrived on the tail of a wild and sustained rain storm, in time to talk about why the increase of such wild weather affects us all.

He said, “We see that the world is changing, and we depend on the sea.” Since Norway and Maine rely on the ocean, he came to tell the story of Norway’s concerns about climate change, to learn from others, and to “get out of DC.”

He talked about many things, but mainly, that the solution to our changing climate is a global one, but begins in our backyards, and in our habits. We must improve our knowledge base and become active at the local and regional levels, as federal action is too far off, stalled by politics.

We can drive less, walk more. Buy less, recycle more. Love our oceans, and learn more how we impact the environment every day.

 

the value of trees

14/05/2012 by admin

How much is a tree worth? Author Caroline Arnold found a brilliant answer to this question while visiting Chicago recently.

In celebration of Arbor Day in 2011, the Morton Arboretum tagged hundreds of trees in Illinois with the dollar amount each tree will give back to the community in environmental and socio-economic benefits over the next 15 years. Trees absorb air pollutants, including ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, through the leaves and intercept particulate matter like dust, ash and smoke. They also lower air temperature, reducing the production of ozone.

Every tree counts!

You can do the same to a favorite tree in YOUR yard, just go here!

Trees are more than sponges of our toxins. They’re also habitat and food for wildlife, and provide shelter and shade, color and poetry to our world. In A Warmer World, this mountain marmot’s habitat is shifting due to changes in climate.

Yellow bellied marmot finds the climate changing his mountain habitat in A Warmer World, illustration by Jamie Hogan

 

 

The Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation is working to protect high-elevation pines that are threatened by mountain pine beetles, thriving in warmer temperatures now found at higher elevations.

Trees need our help!

Bird School

23/04/2012 by admin

There was a wonderful good news story in the LA Times about a school that converted its playground into a wild garden and found that it attracts all sorts of wildlife–an action that produced surprising results.

“The plants attracted insects, which attracted birds, which attracted students, who, fascinated by the nature unfolding before them, learned so much that their test scores in science rose sixfold.

In the words of Leo Politi’s delighted principal, Brad Rumble, “We’ve gone from the basement to the penthouse in science test scores.””  Read more.

Build a Garden and Wildlife will come! –Author, Carline Arnold

The Island President

19/04/2012 by admin

Don’t tell President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives that you cannot stop Global Warming.  One man making a difference…

 

No Poles for the Dinosaurs

12/04/2012 by admin

We thank the fine folks at Archimedes Notebook for interviewing A Warmer World author, Caroline Arnold on their “hands-on science exploration for children and their parents” website.

“Arnold started thinking about this book a few years ago when she was writing about pterosaurs. “I found an article describing the discovery in Antarctica of both dinosaur and pterosaur fossils,” she said. “It turns out that the world was so warm in the Dinosaur Age that there was no permanent ice at the poles!””

Read More of the Archimedes Notebook article and check out Caroline’s book, Global Warming and the Dinosaurs.

Thank you to the Pterosaur Database for the illustration.

 

mapping ideas

06/04/2012 by admin

illustration on title page of "A Warmer World"

I’ve always been drawn to maps. They are full of strange shapes and colors and represent distant places or maybe the back yard.

We’ve had lots of fun looking at Google Maps. The ability to zoom in and out provides a certain kind of magic. Have you ever drawn a map of your day? Or of your own neighborhood?

When I made this illustration for the title page in A Warmer World, I wanted to show a topographic map, the kind with squiggly lines that represent changes in altitude.  Maybe it is an iceberg in the sea, or maybe it is also the profile of a polar bear. It depends on your point of view.

i

image from "The Map: Art of Contemporary Cartography"

 

I recently came across a book with all kinds of cool maps. One image made me pause. It looks like a wrinkled globe.

It’s actually a photograph of a globe made from mashed up maps. This suggests something larger to me. Can we reuse our resources and keep our globe intact? Or will we trash it?

An organization, 350.org, is planning a Climate Day on May 5. Find out how to get involved!

 

 

Are you a Bigfoot in disguise?

30/03/2012 by admin

This curious artifact was spotted at the International Cryptozoology  Museum in Portland, Maine. Bigfoot could actually serve as a handy mascot for the concerns around climate change. Plenty of people don’t believe such a creature exists, and yet others do. Many people don’t think climate change is happening, while others do. Whatever your persuasion, let’s put ourselves in his, um, shoes.

Found at the International Cryptozoology Museum

How big is your carbon foot print? And what really does that term mean? if you visit TerraPass, they will walk you through how much carbon-based fuel you use.

Just noticing the measure of our carbon footprint is a giant step for the planet.

And don’t forget! Tomorrow night YOU can take action for our planet in the Earth Hour that begins at 8:30 PM, Saturday, March 31.

Warmer World Action Alert: Mad March Weather

24/03/2012 by admin

Flowers up early in a Warmer World

While it is awesome to hit the beach, the parks, and the woods in March, it does seem pretty weird, right?

Journalists have been asking scientists all month, “Is this Global Warming?”

No on can agree, of course, as there unusual weather fronts this month, but…the United States has broken 7,000 temperature records this month!  Um, wow.

What do you think?  Should you tell your Congressperson that the world sure seems to be getting warmer?

We, the creators of the children’s science book, A Warmer World think it might be…

(If you want to hear what scientists are saying, you can read this great piece in the Washington Post.)