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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

Sea Level Rise, Its Impact on the Potomac River Shoreline Ecosystems, May 15th

Norma Hoffman Visitor Center, Huntley Meadows Park
3701 Lockheed Blvd., Alexandria Virginia 22306
Wednesday, 15 May 2019
7:30 pm
FODM will host an informal social gathering at 7:00 p.m. before the event.

Join the Friends of Dyke Marsh to hear Geoffrey Sanders, a National Park Service (NPS) biologist, give a presentation on the impact of sea level rise on Dyke Marsh and other shoreline communities based on modeling of several scenarios. His study concluded that “significant habitat changes are likely at Dyke Marsh as a result of rising water levels,” including changes in vegetation.

From 1900 to 2017, sea levels rose about a foot and a half along the Chesapeake Bay, according to scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. An Old Dominion University study, “Climate Change, Global Warming and Ocean Levels,” assumes a mid-range estimate of a 3.7-foot increase in sea level rise by 2100. Former Governor Tim Kaine’s Commission on Climate Change in 2008 predicted that sea levels in the Chesapeake Bay region will be 2.3 to 5.2 feet higher by 2100.

The program is sponsored by the Friends of Dyke Marsh and cosponsored by the Environmental Council of Alexandria, the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust, the Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation, and the Potomac Riverkeeper Network.

George Mason University hosts free lecture on climate change, Apr. 24th

An Evening with Dr. Ed Maibach: What Do Americans Think About Climate Change, and What—If Anything—Do They Want to Do About It?

Old Town Hall, City of Fairfax
3999 University Drive, Fairfax VA
Wednesday, 24 April 2019
7 pm

Dr. Edward Maibach will present an overview of the findings from public opinion polls regarding climate change conducted over the past decade. Recently there has been a sharp increase in the public’s understanding of and concern about climate change. He will discuss Mason’s efforts to increase public understanding of climate change. There will be an opportunity for questions following the presentation.

Dr. Maibach serves on the advisory council of George Mason University’s newly launched Institute for a Sustainable Earth (ISE), which will address Earth’s future, including the problem of global climate change. He is also a Mason distinguished University Professor and a communication scientist who is expert in the uses of strategic communication and social marketing to address climate change and related public health challenges. His research – funded by NSF, NASA and private foundations – focuses on public understanding of climate change and clean energy; the psychology underlying public engagement; and cultivating TV weathercasters, health professionals, and climate scientists as effective climate educators. From 2011 to 2014, Ed co-chaired the Engagement & Communication Working Group for the 3rd National Climate Assessment, and he currently advises myriad government agencies, museums, science societies and civic organizations on their climate change public engagement initiatives. He earned his PhD in communication science at Stanford University, his Masters in Public Health at San Diego State University, and his BA in psychology at University of California, San Diego.

Review of The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions, by Peter Brannen

Reviewed by Tami Sheiffer

Studying mass extinction events from tens or hundreds of millions of years ago shows us that life on Earth is both precarious and resilient. In The Ends of the World, science writer Peter Brannen vividly describes the five past mass extinction events: End-Ordovician, Late Devonian, End-Permian, End-Triassic, and End-Cretaceous, and the lessons we can learn from them. This book offers something of interest to anyone interested in natural history, paleontology, geology, climatology, ecology, or evolution.

Brannen paints vivid pictures of life and destruction eons ago, interwoven with his personal tales of travel around the country talking with scientists and visiting paleontological sites. You can preview Brannen’s writing in one of his science articles, like this one titled “A Climate Catastrophe Paved the Way for the Dinosaurs’ Reign,” published in The Atlantic. Occasionally, Brannen’s storytelling risks anthropomorphism, as when he describes the first fish to walk on land in the Devonian as “bold explorers” and “brave pioneers.” However, Brannen’s engaging writing makes this book enjoyable reading for a broad audience.

By studying the causes of past mass extinctions, we find that most were caused by climate change. The Earth’s climate has changed naturally in the past, but drastic changes were violent and caused massive destruction. Life is ultimately resilient, and, eventually, surviving species evolved to repopulate a new Earth, but life after the extinction looked very different from life before. In the most deadly mass extinction, the End-Permian event, nearly all life was wiped out. This extinction event was caused in part by volcanic activity in the Siberian Traps burning underground coal basins and releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. 

Our present day fossil fuel activity has a similar effect of releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but at an even faster rate than in the end-Permian extinction. The overarching theme of the book is that  past mass extinctions can teach us lessons for the present, as we find ourselves in the midst of a sixth mass extinction. This time, human activity is the cause of the extinction–beginning tens of thousands of years ago with the loss of megafauna like marsupial lions, giant kangaroos, woolly mammoths, mastodons, and giant ground sloths due to hunting, and continuing today due to habitat loss and human-induced climate change. This book is ultimately a cautionary tale: learn from the past so we can avoid a catastrophe on the same scale today. 

On March 20, 2019, Peter Brannen will be speaking at an event at the Library of Congress called “Climate Change, Nature, and the Writer’s Eye”, along with distinguished authors Annie Proulx and Amitav Ghosh. The authors will discuss environmental change and a writer’s responsibility to the issue. This event is approved for FMN continuing education credit. The event is free but registration is required. 

Want to review a resource? We’d love to hear from you. Instructions for submission await your click and commitment.

The World and Me Family Programs at the Q’rius Room

Toakase’s Tapa: Saturday, January 12, 10:30 a.m.-12:00 noon

Q?rius, The Coralyn W. Whitney Science Education Center, Ground Floor, Natural History Museum

Learn more about your place in the world through explorations of nature and culture. Every second Saturday of the month, museum educators lead a program that combines a book reading, activities, and a chance to look more closely at the museum’s collections. These programs are designed for pre-K to 3rd grade.

What happens during a “World & Me” program?

10:30-10:45 a.m.: Free exploration of hands-on stations

10:45-11:00 a.m.: Book reading

11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon: Hands-on activity

This month, we’ll explore traditional textiles of Pacific Island cultures, specifically barkcloth. After a book reading of “Toakase’s Tapa,” families will participate in an artist-led demonstration on the process of making paper from raw materials, like mulberry tree bark. Participants will take home handmade paper that they’ve decorated.

Register for this free program

Looking for some serious family fun? Bring your competitive spirit to the museum for an evening of Arctic- and climate-themed games and activities for the whole family!

Family Game Night: Arctic Edition Saturday, January 12, 5:00-8:00 p.m.

Q?rius, The Coralyn W. Whitney Science Education Center, Ground Floor

  • Play different types of Arctic-themed games for ages 10 and up
  • Explore Arctic objects and specimens with anthropologists and other scientists
  • Discover the Arctic ecosystem and the animals that live there through games, puzzles, and hands-on activities designed for kids under 10

Register for this free program

Designing for Environmental Sustainability and Social Impact

This is an online, self-paced class from +Acumen, taught by MAVA Foundation. It begins 9 October and ends 20 November. The class is free.

Course Description

How do you solve a problem like deforestation? How might you restore a marine ecosystem, while recognizing that the community depends on fishing to survive? When your renewable energy product is no longer wanted, does it end up in a landfill?

The challenges of poverty and environmental conservation are interconnected. This course will introduce mindsets and methodologies to help you promote both environmental sustainability and social impact in your work.

You will discover the dynamics that contribute to complex environmental and social challenges using systems thinking. Then, you will learn about the circular economy and find opportunities to reuse resources and reduce waste. Next, you will explore how behavior change principles can encourage people to act in ways that benefit the planet. Finally, you will make the case for environmental conservation with lessons from the natural capital movement.

The course features insights from Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy; Vien Truong, CEO of Green for All; and Michael Kobori, Vice President of Sustainability for Levi Strauss & Co. It also shares case studies from social entrepreneurs and conservation organizations around the world.

What You’ll Learn

  • Explore opportunities for collaboration between social entrepreneurs and conservation organizations to promote environmental sustainability and social impact
  • Discover mindsets and methodologies for tackling environmental challenges, including systems thinking, circular design, behavior change, and natural capital
  • Understand how to design products and services that contribute to a circular economy, and how to change behavior to conserve biodiversity
  • Make the business case for investing in environmental conservation with lessons from the natural capital movement

This is a hands-on, project-based course for teams or individuals that consists of weekly readings, videos, and workshops. In the first week of the course, you will select an environmental challenge to explore. In each workshop, you will apply the concepts you learned in the reading to propose solutions to the environmental challenge.

More Questions

Please visit our +Acumen Page for more information.

Is This Course for You?

  • You are a social entrepreneur who wants to design solutions that create social impact and promote environmental sustainability.
  • You are a conservation specialist who wants to apply entrepreneurial methodologies to environmental challenges.
  • You are an innovator in a company or corporation who wants to make the business case for investing in conservation.

Credible climate action plans: How you can help make them a reality

Bill Hafker

Climate change, and the impacts that it can, is, and will likely have on almost every aspect of our lives, and the lives of all other living things, is the most all-encompassing environmental challenge humankind has faced.  As Master Naturalists we well know its implications for our natural world–the oceans, plants, animals, forests, water supplies, weather, etc.  As informed global citizens, we also know the economic and social implications climate change has for our infrastructure, coastal cities, agricultural output, fires, droughts, and even migrations of people.

As the world struggles to find the way and the will to identify and take the steps needed to try to keep temperature rise from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius, as agreed to in the Paris Climate Agreement, what can we as Master Naturalists do to help to increase the likelihood of success of efforts to address climate change?  With our knowledge of the severity of the issue, and the criticality of ensuring that efforts taken to address it are done in a rigorous, and sound scientific and economic manner, and are properly documented and shared with the public, we can help ensure that climate plans, regardless of who prepares them, are credible documents that are likely to achieve what they purport to do.

Whether we are part of helping develop a climate plan for an organization we belong to (e.g., a faith community or homeowners association), submitting comments solicited in the preparation of county or state energy, environmental, or climate plans, or responding to plans offered by others (e.g., companies, municipalities), we can provide input that helps ensure that the plan actually stands a chance of doing what it claims to.  Just this past July, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted the Fairfax County Operational Energy Strategy which is “intended to further the objectives of the Board’s Environmental Vision”.  Prior to that adoption, a draft of that Strategy was available for comment.  The State of Virginia is in the midst of taking input on the 2018 Virginia Energy Plan (comment period closes 8/24) because “The Plan is intended to provide a strategic vision for the energy policy of the Commonwealth over the next 10 years”.

These are just two very significant opportunities for Master Naturalists to review and evaluate what is being proposed and offer comments in support of what they find good in the draft plans, and suggestions for how they should, or even in some cases must, be improved if they are to actually deliver climate risk reduction.

I recently presented a paper at the Air & Waste Management Association Annual Conference:  “A Framework for Credible 2 Degree Celsius Climate Planning”.  For those interested in preparing a credible climate plan that will pass muster with those who would challenge its completeness, or who seek a yardstick against which to evaluate strong points and shortcomings of climate plans they wish to review and comment on, this paper offers  a checklist of 11 elements that are needed in a credible climate plan.  The 11 elements of the planning framework are described, and their relationship to each other is presented in a flow diagram, allowing users to compare plans they are helping to develop, or ones they are assessing, for completeness.  The flow diagram also shows how the elements interact with each other, and over time, to deliver results.  With 36 years as an environmental engineer with ExxonMobil, I used  the petroleum industry as the source of examples of how such planning can be effectively done; however, the framework presented is equally applicable to any climate planning activity.

Bill Hafker is a graduate of the Spring 2017 Fairfax Master Naturalist class.

Want to review a resource? We’d love to hear from you. Instructions for submission await your click and commitment.

Caterpillars Count! Join new citizen science project

Caterpillars Count! is a citizen science project sponsored by the National Science Foundation for measuring the seasonal variation and abundance of arthropods like caterpillars, beetles, and spiders found on the foliage of trees and shrubs. Arthropods are an important food source for birds and other wildlife.

Climate change is affecting the timing of spring leaf out, insect activity, and bird migration and breeding. But are the plants, insects and birds all responding to the same degree? If either insects or birds are not keeping up with the shifts of the other organisms that they depend on, then further climate change may have negative consequences for their populations.

Caterpillars Count is part of a multi-university study of phenological mismatch across three trophic levels in eastern North America. The lead universities are University of North Carolina, Georgetown University, and University of Connecticut, with co-investigators from University of Florida, Institute for Bird Populations, Penn State, Evergreen State College, and Ontario Forest Research Institute.

Participants will monitor a site at the Walker Nature Center in Reston for Georgetown University. We will examine 50 leaves on each of 10 trees weeklyor bi-weekly thoughout the spring and summer.  We will count and classify the arthropods we observe. Each monitoring session will take about one hour. There will be approximately 16 monitoring sessions. Volunteeers are not required to participate in every session and the timing is up to the volunteers who are participating. Volunteers must sign-up in advance for training and schedule coordination.

This project is eligible for credit for master naturalists under code C-254.

Learn more