Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day! Oh the ocean is wide, the ocean is deep!

Today is Blog Action Day for Climate Change and I have chosen to focus on the oceans. I was down by the Gulf of Mexico the day before yesterday and it was blue, calm and exquisitely beautiful.

Hard to imagine there are huge areas in the Gulf of Mexico, called dead zones, where nothing can live. This website is helpful in explaining this phenomenon:

So how does climate change affect the oceans? Well, there are several things that can change due to the rise in the temperature of the water. According to the Scientific American:

This past June, the world’s oceans reached 17 degrees Celsius, their highest average temperature since record keeping began and marine biologists are concerned that this will cause big changes in the marine food chain.”

Coral reefs suffer from what is called “bleaching” and although this process is caused by a variety of factors still being researched, instability in water temperature are know to contribute.

Corals are living creatures, called polyps, that receive their nutrients in a couple of ways. One, they use their tentacles to capture tiny planktonic organisms; and two, they have a symbiotic relationship with a single cell algae called zooxanthellae. These algae use photosynthesis to procure their nutrient energy and share this with the coral polyps.

It is widely believed that coral bleaching is caused by stress factors, and since corals live in relatively shallow waters, sudden temperature drops or increases will usually induce bleaching.

Coral reefs are incredibly complex ecosystems that support a huge variety of species – I always think of them as the rainforests of the oceans! To help children understand some of these relationships you can teach them the Coral Reef song, which I have added to the song list on this Myspace page.

There is an informative five minute video on the Curious Kids Club website about oceans - just click of the Curious Kids link here on my Myspace

So what can kids do to help minimize the duration of climate change? Turn it Off!

Turn off lights, TV’s and computers when not in use; walk more if you can asking your parents to drive you; stop using plastic bags; plant trees; eat less meat and write letters to your local officials asking them to support climate change bills in government. All these small steps help.

Sometimes things can seem a little overwhelming, so I want to finish with a quote from the visionary environmental activist Paul Hawken:

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse!

Let’s do our part! As President Obama so famously said: Yes! We Can!

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