PolarPalooza Opening Celebration

PolarPalooza tour map.jpg

The climate change stars were out last night in San Diego. PolarPalooza San Diego is the first of its kind. There are 6 more planned for cities across the US in 2007 and 20 more planned for 2008. The weekend includes events at several museums around San Diego and events are geared for students, teachers, families, kids and the climate change curious.

The scientists were each given 5 minutes to talk about their respective research areas, which included multi-media presentations and pictures from out in the field, out on the poles, or out in space. One of the scientists noted that there is now less ice in the arctic than at any point over the last 2 million years and there has always been a frozen polar ice cap but that may not be true for much longer. Dr. Darlene Lim included pictures of people diving under the sea ice to test the conditions and see what is under there. She said that the lakes up in the arctic are an early warning system to the environment and right now they are drying up left and right. Also, of important note, the audience learned that polar bears do not eat penguins because they are on opposite poles.

Dr. Sridhar Anandakrisnan talked about how CO2 levels in the atmosphere correlate very well with the temperature of the planet and right now the CO2 levels are going up and up. We don’t know what the future will bring but thus far as one goes up, so does the other; that is the best that we can get for now.

The best part of the evening was a presentation by Orville Huntington, a wildlife biologist and native of Husila, AK. He played a short video, which included stories and scenes from his treks through Alaska. The video noted that winter begins one month later and frost now comes one month earlier. For those of you in the warmer latitudes who could live year-round without cold temperatures, this might not be a problem, but if you hunt and fish for your sustenance, then it’s a problem if wildlife are dying becuase they can't adapt to rapidly changing seasons.

Orville’s trek showed that flowers now bloom in the fall because its so warm and they are tricked into thinking its summer. There is also no more water left in lakes – a huge field was shown which used to be filled with water. Deciduous willows now replace conifer trees; this is a problem because the natives build their homes out of the sturdy conifer trees. There are no berries left on the trees, problem for both the natives and the animals.

The evening included presentations by NASA astronaut Dr. Don Pettit, New York Times writer Andrew Revkin, biologist Dr. Donal Manahan, and Dr. Helen Fricker. Each presenter did a nice job of talking about topics that would be interesting to the audience; including trivia questions and show&tell; items including a 3,000 year old ice core. There was also a question and answer session where at least half of the questions came from kids in the audience – the most popular question by far was when is San Diego going to be underwater. Don’t worry, the answer is not ‘tomorrow.’

This article is the fourth in a series of articles on Polar Palooza: Coming to Town, Media Mashup Part 1, and Media Mashup Part 2. You can checkout PolarPalooza in a city near you to find out what we really know about our changing climate or visit them online.

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