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Communicating and Acting on Climate Change: A Success Story from Thriving Earth Exchange

Hallandale Beach, Florida operates a Green Initiatives Program within its Department of Public Works to provide sustainability-related information and programs to residents and employees. Most of the City’s Green Initiatives work focuses on Water and Energy Conservation and Recycling. A main impetus for the water conservation focus includes the loss of 6 out of 8 of the City’s freshwater wells to saltwater intrusion in the past decade. In 2018, the City adopted the Sustainability Action Plan which includes short-term and long-term projects to help the City increase its sustainability and resiliency between now and 2040.

Thriving Earth Exchange supported this program. Keep reading for details of how the team carried out its mission, their sensible reflections, and a link to a nifty table top climate change awareness game that you can download and reproduce for your own workshops or classes.

This is a wonderful success story.

National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation

The National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation (NNOCCI) is launching a new training opportunity: The NNOCCI Crash Course!

This is a 6-week, 25-hour, fee-based online course for those interested in gaining strategic framing skills. 

NNOCCI is a partnership between climate scientists and informal science educators who have public trust and large audiences, and who are dedicated to using our platforms to have productive conversations about climate action.

We operate as a supportive community of practice using and teaching evidence-based tools to inspire hope and action. Together, we can change the national conversation around climate change to be more positive, productive and solutions-focused.

In the Crash Course, participants will learn basic framing elements including why framing matters, values, metaphors, and solutions. These framing techniques are all based on rigorous social science and have been extensively tested across the United States. Participants will create a final project to demonstrate their framing skills and practice critiquing communications with the framing skill rubric. This course is ideal for those who have an interest in learning more about strategic framing to incorporate these techniques into their personal or professional communications. For more information on NNOCCI Training Offerings, visit www.climateinterpreter.org/training.

Benefits of the NNOCCI Crash Course 

1.    Gain skills to engage others on climate change. Training includes a series of online video modules, facilitated webinars, and practice assignments to provide a comprehensive introduction to strategic framing, an overview of NNOCCI tools and messaging, and access to experienced trainers to support you in crafting impactful climate messages.

2.    Accessible from anywhere. This online, 6-week, 25-hour module provides a comprehensive overview of strategic framing tools from the comfort of your home/office.

3.    Network with like-minded individuals across the country. Expand your professional network and explore the challenges, opportunities, and best practices of climate communication within a supportive community of practice.

4.    Join the NNOCCI Network. NNOCCI has built and fostered a community of practice to help scientists and science educators share best practices and challenges of communicating climate research. NNOCCI’s reach is broad, with a network of more than 440 individual members from 184 informal science learning centers across 38 states.

Course Offerings:

  • Summer Course taking place the weeks of July 12th through August 16th, 2020
  • Fall Course taking place the weeks of October 11th through November 15th, 2020

Course Sizes: Courses will range in size from 20 to 40 participants. For courses with 30+ participants, the cohorts may be divided into smaller groups.

Additional Program Details: The cost of the course is $249/person with additional discounts for attendees joining in groups of 5 (5%), 10 (10%) and 20 (20%) people.

How to Apply: Applications are live. Please reach out to NNOCCI@neaq.org with questions in the meantime.

More info and FAQs: https://climateinterpreter.org/content/nnoccis-new-online-crash-course

Registration: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeS8r2pIoO0igoey_T6awUer6xuARSv24mQd3gXRmSSBpgavw/viewform

Social Justice–Centered Science Teaching and Learning

Reposted from Philip Bell and Deb Morrison, at the University of Washington, Seattle, via the National Science Teachers Association:

Some cultures have historically been privileged in particular times and places, and as a result, some ways of knowing and doing science have had more social standing. We work from the stance that scientific ways of knowing and science education are fundamentally cultural and inherently political. All students have a right and a responsibility to learn how science has been implicated in creating many social inequities over time and how diverse scientific knowledges and practices can promote justice.

For example, the ice floe knowledge of Arctic Indigenous peoples was not initially brought into the larger scientific conversation on global climate science until sustained relationship building and deep listening between Indigenous and Euro-Western-trained scientists occurred. This knowledge held within Indigenous communities allowed for refinement of global climate modeling. Tribes and Indigenous peoples are engaged in hundreds of such efforts to understand and respond to climate change (see Chapter 15, Fourth National Climate Assessment for details).

Teachers can foster such cultural bridging in ways that help students recognize their agency to engage in social justice projects in ways informed by the sciences. Specifically, justice-oriented science educators should engage in culturally-based pedagogies that identify and leverage the knowledge and practice resources of students and their communities.

Read more for principles and resources

National Academies of Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering study on Grand Challenges for Environmental Engineering in the 21st Century

The National Academies of Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering performed a study on Grand Challenges for Environmental Engineering in the 21st Century, which they published in 2018. It is now available to the general public and is a good, bracing read. The excerpt below is from the introduction. Yup, it’s 125 pages and will take longer than 15 minutes to absorb, but it’s worth the time. You can download the report and slides, too.

“The report identifies five pressing challenges for the 21st century that environmental engineers are uniquely poised to help advance:

1: Sustainably supply food, water, and energy

2: Curb climate change and adapt to its impacts

3: Design a future without pollution and waste

4: Create efficient, healthy, resilient cities

5: Foster informed decisions and actions

These grand challenges stem from a vision of a future world where humans and ecosystems thrive together. Although this is unquestionably an ambitious vision, it is feasible—and imperative—to achieve significant steps toward these challenges in both the near and long term.

The challenges provide focal points for evolving environmental engineering education, research, and practice toward increased contributions and a greater impact. Implementing this new model will require modifications in the educational curriculum and creative approaches to foster interdisciplinary research on complex social and environmental problems. It will also require broader coalitions of scholars and practitioners from different disciplines and backgrounds, as well as true partnerships with communities and stakeholders. Greater collaboration with economists, policy scholars, and businesses and entrepreneurs is needed to understand and manage issues that cut across sectors. Finally, this work must be carried out with a keen awareness of the needs of people who have historically been excluded from environmental decision making, such as those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, members of underrepresented groups, or those otherwise marginalized.”

Earth’s Climate: Present, Past, and Future, VNPS Annual Workshop, Mar. 14th

Piedmont Virginia Community College
V. Earl Dickinson Building Theater, 444 College Dr., Charlottesville VA
Saturday, 14 March 2020
9 am – 3:15 pm

Many are concerned about climate change and no longer need to be convinced that it is real. But we can always learn something new about the study of climate and its changes and impacts on Earth’s ecosystems. This Workshop will focus on climate changes at different periods of time, how it might relate to our current climate, and inform our thoughts about today’s changes.

The speakers this year will cover more than 50 million years of Earth’s climate history. From the present state of our coastal ecosystems, to climate perturbations during the historic period, to the glacial ages and their influence on eastern forests, and finally to the fossil record far in the past, we will explore environmental changes in our world.

More information, workshop brochure and registration here. Brought to you by the Virginia Native Plant Society.

Project Drawdown’s 100 solutions to reverse global warming

What if we took out more greenhouse gases than we put into the atmosphere? This hypothetical scenario, known as drawdown, is our only hope of averting climate disaster, says strategist Chad Frischmann of Project Drawdown.

In a compelling TED Talk about climate change, he shares solutions that exist today: conventional tactics like the use of renewable energy and better land management as well as some lesser-known approaches, like changes to food production, better family planning, and the education of girls.

Listen for ideas about how we can reverse global warming and create a world where regeneration, not destruction, is the rule. His talk was presented at “We the Future,” a special event in partnership with the Skoll Foundation and the United Nations Foundation.

For the full list of solutions, click here.

For material on managing refrigerants, click here.

For Katherine Wilkinson’s TED Talk on empowering women and girls an their role in addressing climate change, click here.

Register for Behavior-Centered Design for the Environment, April 1-2, 2020

Marilyn Kupetz

During a two-day workshop at Rare’s Center for Behavior & Environment this past October, one of the participants, a professor of restorative ecology, described an initiative that he’s launching at Longwood University: getting students, faculty, and staff to reduce the number of single-use plastics that they deposit into the waste stream in Farmville, Virginia. 

He was credible and inspiring, and when I went home that day, I examined every bit of plastic that I inject, virtuously, into my recycling bin: sushi trays, shampoo containers, pill bottles, salad boxes, plastic utensils, yogurt packaging, dog treat wrappers, water bottles—I could go on for a while, but I’m sure you get it. I was surprised at the variety and appalled by the numbers.

I was also surprised to learn that manufacturers are not buying plastic right now because it costs more to wash and prepare recycled waste than to make new plastic. So the fact that we recycle doesn’t actually reduce the effects of the plastic we toss. It still ends up in landfills or the ocean. The path forward seems to require some combination of avoiding plastic all together—very hard; repurposing as much of what we do have to buy as possible; and thinking creatively about options that haven’t occurred to us yet, but could if we summon the collective will.

Because Rare teaches Behavior-Centered Design for the Environment twice a year and leads projects that practice it—all over the world, all the time—our facilitators asked us to workshop in real time how we ourselves might encourage just one organization to reduce the number of plastic products they consume and throw away during lunch each day. 

Collectively, our ideas touched all of the levers of behavior-centered design:

  • We suggested a material incentive: giving staff branded, reusable containers for lunch or takeout. Because they would cost the organization very little, and could be made of recycled plastic, the incentive might be valuable on several levels.
  • We’d engage in positive storytelling, by, for example, posting signs reminding staff that although waste adds up, change is in their hands, literally.
  • We’d leverage social influence, perhaps with a trash art installation inside the front door to remind ourselves of what waste really looks like, without any personal public shaming.
  • We’d push information via fun infographic reminders to forego plastic and adopt reusable utensils and containers.
  • We’d enable choice architecture by hosting a cache of reusable containers right near the cafeteria so that staff could borrow, wash, and return them if they forgot their own.

Doable, right? A question of will, not wherewithall. 

I’m working out how to use what I learned—from the gifted teachers and the fabulous participants—in my own life and activities. I encourage those of you who want your efforts to preserve the natural world to have meaningful outcomes to participate in the next workshop, to be held April 1-2, 2020.

Free Resources

Behavior Change for Nature: A Behavioral Science Toolkit for Practitioners is a useful, short booklet for getting started, and perfect for those of you who learn best from the printed word.

Behavior Beat is Rare’s monthly newsletter full of stories and links to resources. Great resource for news and easily digestible stories of what works.

Lots of webinars and inspiring stories on the site itself.

And, of course, come talk with me, too, any time.

If you are a Fairfax Master Naturalist, the workshop easily fulfills your education requirement for the year. I’ve already added it to the calendar.

Mount Vernon Environmental Expo: How you can act on climate change, Nov 16

Supervisor Dan Storck invites you to participate in the 2nd Annual Mount Vernon District Environment Expo: How YOU Can Act on Climate Change on Saturday, November 16, 2019, from 8 a.m. – noon at Walt Whitman Middle School. This event will educate and inform local residents on environmental challenges that we face on a daily basis, including ones that are unique to Fairfax County given our proximity to water, transportation challenges and recent intense storms. Attendees will leave the Expo with simple actions you can take to make an impact on climate change. Please share information about this event with your family, friends and neighbors!

Join them for the morning to LEARN, ENGAGE and ACT to save our environment!

Expo Schedule

8 – 11:15 a.m. – Exhibit Hall Open

8 – noon – Electric & Hybrid Car Showcase

9 – 9:30 a.m. – Opening Remarks

9:30 – noon – Film Screening

9:30 – 10:15 a.m. – Concurrent Workshops

11 – 11:45 a.m. – Concurrent Workshops

11:45 – noon – Closing Remarks

Workshop Topics

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, presented by Beck Modini, Pachamama Alliance

Can we reverse global warming and stop climate change?  What would it take?  What can you do to help?  Come to this introduction to the work of Project Drawdown, which gathered data on 100 actions that lower carbon emissions or take carbon out of the air, and then did the math. The result is a science-based global plan to actually reverse global warming by 2050. Come away with a new framework for thinking about climate change and access to tools for action.

Small Choices, Big Impact, presented by Zach Huntington, Clean Fairfax

Simple steps we can all take to minimize our impact on the planet from the importance of eating local, to the products we purchase, and how we won’t be able to recycle our way out of our worldwide litter problem. We’ll also discuss how the daily decisions we make can either mitigate the impacts of or contribute to climate change and what strategies are the most effective in addressing systemic climate challenges.

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint Through Energy Efficiency, presented by Elenor Hodges, EcoAction Arlington

Learn about reducing your carbon footprint whether you live in a single-family house, townhouse, condo or apartment. The presentation will focus on energy and water efficiency in the home, detailing techniques to reduce energy and water use through sealing air leaks, installing energy-efficient lighting, and switching to low-flow water devices in the kitchen and bathroom. We will also discuss the energy use of a variety of household appliances and learn how to measure how much energy each one uses with a kilowatt meter.

Flooding, Storm Surge and Sea Level Rise—Tools for Living with the Water, presented by Molly Mitchell, Virginia Institute of Marine Science

This workshop will take look at the changing flood threats from sea level rise, changing precipitation, and increased development.  We will discuss the tools available to help project storm surge flooding and future sea level rise impacts and discuss how these tools can be used in decision making.

“The 4 R’s” Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, presented by Eric Forbes, Fairfax County Solid Waste Management

“The 4R’s” will cover what we all can do to help reduce our waste footprint as well as the services the Solid Waste Management Program provides for Fairfax County residents.

The Right Tree in the Right Place, presented by Jim McGlone, Fairfax County Urban Forestry

Trees have an important role in reducing the impacts of climate change. Attend this workshop to learn about the native trees that thrive in our region and where best to plant these.

Adding Habitat Value in our Gardens:  Mow less, Grow more!, presented by Joanne Hutton and Tami Scheiffer, Plant NOVA Natives 

Avenues to Better Air Quality, presented by Tom Reynolds, Fairfax County Department of Transportation

Traffic congestion and tailpipe emissions combine to be a major contributor to greenhouse gases in the region. Fairfax County is progressing down several ‘avenues’ to reduce congestion and improve air quality. Learn how individuals can play a part in the County’s efforts to reduce emissions, shift the mode share away from single occupancy vehicles, take advantage of a growing pedestrian/bicycle environment and see how transit is being considered in new developments.

Download and share the flyer

Wildlife Conservation in a Changing World: Can Wildlife Adapt?, a talk Nov. 13th

Huntley Meadows Park
3701 Lockheed Blvd., Alexandria VA
Wednesday, 13 November 2019
7:30 pm

Climate change is happening now. Even if we drastically reduce emissions soon, changes will continue into the future because greenhouse gases already emitted can stay in the atmosphere for decades. How will this affect wildlife? Can wildlife adapt? What can we do to help? Climate change on its own, and in combination with other stresses, may push many species to their limits. Climate change can adversely affect wildlife, for example, when the life cycles of interdependent species get out of sync and when rising coastal waters flood nesting sites. Too little or too much precipitation can stress whole ecosystems. Dr. Sally Valdes will explore how climate change is affecting wildlife and offer some steps for addressing this threat.

Dr. Valdes has a Ph.D. in aquatic ecology from Cornell University with minors in natural resource policy and ecosystem ecology. She worked for almost 25 years as a biologist in several federal government agencies. Since retiring, she has taught an environmental health and a wildlife ecology class. As a federal employee, Dr. Valdes served on an advisory group that developed the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and was responsible for integrating climate change concerns into environmental reviews of proposed federal projects.

The program is sponsored by the Friends of Dyke Marsh.

Welcome to Project eTrout, citizen science from USGS

Welcome to Project eTrout [instructional video]!

Virtual reality (VR) provides exciting opportunities for environmental education and research. We invite your participation in a new program to engage students, anglers, and citizen scientists in fish ecology and climate change research using new VR methods. Participants will learn about fish ecology first-hand by exploring streams in VR and will be members of a research team lead by US Geological Survey (USGS) scientists. This program is free and designed for students, anglers, and citizen scientists of all ages.

Here’s how it works:

1. USGS collects 360-degree video samples from trout streams in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia (completed during summer 2018).
2. Participants access videos from a website and use standard computer monitors or VR headsets (e.g., Google cardboard) to watch them.
3. Participants then record data on fish abundance.
4. USGS then analyzes the combined data and reports key findings to participants.

 

Click here to begin.

Click here for a summary of results.

 

For more information and how to register contact:

Nathaniel (Than) Hitt, PhD
US Geological Survey, Leetown Science Center
304-724-4463

https://www.usgs.gov/staff-profiles/nathaniel-hitt