Climate, life and global warming | bringing the climate change message to school children

Helen Coxall bringing the climate change message to 225 school children at Futuraskolan, Stockholm using world maps and 300 plastic animals!

On Friday 21th April Helen Coxall and a team of four students gave an interactive presentation on ‘Climate, life and global warming’ to 225 school children at Futuraskolan, Stockholm. The motivation was ‘Earth Day’, celebrated on the 22nd April 2017. The team set up 15 large maps of the modern Earth and asked children in groups of ten to place a wide variety of modern animals or dinosaurs (whichever packet they were given) where they think they live naturally and to consider the question ‘What determines where animals live?’ The important points messages to get across here were:

i) Today animals live all across the world but are restricted to certain areas/countries due to their ability to move around and (ii) the prevailing climate.
ii) more organisms live in warm places compared to the Arctic and Antarctica.
iii) 80 million years ago, at the close of the age of the dinosaurs, a diversity of dinosaurs and plants, lived all across the Earth even in the high Arctic and on Antarctica, where today only a few specialized land animals can survive and certainly no reptiles can live. Note at this time the positions of the continents were very close to today’s geography, i.e. Antarctica sat at the South Pole and the Arctic region had the same configuration with an ocean at the North Pole.

Helen explained that geological evidence shows that a strong greenhouse climate operated during dinosaur times that completely altered where animals could live; the Earth was so warm that there was no permanent snow and ice at the poles. Plants and trees grew in the Arctic and on Antarctica, providing food that brought a whole community of dinosaurs to the high north and southern latitudes. The discussion continued into the common cause of dinosaur-age global warming and modern global warming, i.e. high amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere. This showed the children that climate change has happened before. Helen then explained that the worrying thing about today’s increasing CO2 in the atmosphere and accompanying global warming is that it is happening much, much faster than any other previous climate swing so that Earth’s natural populations, human society (farmers, town’s close to water or deserts) do not have time to get used to the changes as they have done before.

We concluded with what we need to do to slow this warming trend; clean energy, electric cars, recycling….caring about the planet in all decisions we make in the future.

Bolin Centre for Climate Research
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