Thursday, May 28, 2009

What can you do this summer about climate change?

Dear children,

In just a few weeks American children will be enjoying summer vacation, while children in the Southern Hemisphere, including Brazil, usually have some vacation time in July. Let's think about some of the things you can do to help the planet while you're away from school.

I'll start today with transportation, because driving a car (or a motor home) burns more fossil fuels per person than when you take public transportaion:

Explore the public transportation system in your area. See where all you can go on the local buses or trains. Find routes that will take you to the beach or to parks where you can hike or swim.

Get around without using any fossil fuels - you can walk of ride a bike instead of riding in a car. Walking or biking can be a fun way to spend the day, and it's good for your health too.

Try to help your family use the car less by doing many errands at the same time, or walking instead of driving if it's not too far. You can make suggestions - if your parents don't accept your ideas don't get upset. Just do the best you can.

Report back to this blog in the comment section to share what you do.

Next time I'll write about other ways to enjoy the summer as a good global warming activist.

Love, Nana Greta

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hello children,

This is the photograph that I asked a question about: Why do you think I took this picture? There a a photo of cows above and some of you thought I was asking about the animals. But here there is an important something that helps global warming. Can you tell what it is?

By the way, today I found a penny, a nickel, and dime and a quarter - lucky day!

Nana Greta

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Coins and Offsets

First some photographs:

Last week when my knee was injured it also rained every day, making it hard to make progress on my journey. At night it sometimes rained hard, with lightening and thunder. I like storms so that was OK. I took a picture of the drops on my windshield.

But the sun returned as I entered the hilly region of northeastern Tennessee.

I took another photograph showing the rocks pushing up through the ground in this hilly country.

Wouldn't you like to go with me to see where this path leads?

Maybe it would take us to this pretty barn.

One of the fun things I enjoy is finding coins along the road. Yesterday I found a dime, a nickel and a penny. Since the beginning of the trip, including yesterday, I've picked up four dimes, two nickels and sixteen pennies. How much does that make? Do you think I'll be rich by the end of my trip?

Did you ever hear of a carbon offset? When a company or a person burns a lot of fossil fuel (gas, oil, coal and other substances), they are releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This is one of the main causes of global warming. But sometimes people haven't found ways to do what they need to do without burning fossil fuels so even though they know better they keep on doing it. They can do something to help fight against global warming by sending money to organizations that are working to improve the situation. They do this by planting trees, educating the public, convincing government to make good environmental laws, and improving technology so that there are better ways to do things without burning fossil fuels. Carbon offset is what we call the money donated to these organizations by users of fossil fuels. That money helps offset, or compensate for, the negative effects of the fuels.

I am one of those people burning too much fossil fuel even though I know better. My motor home (sometimes I call it my gypsy wagon) uses a lot of gas. It has an older motor that doesn't burn fuel efficiently, and it is heavy so it takes more gas to make it run. I decided that I needed to take the motor home along with me so that I would have a place to sleep and eat. So I plan to figure out how much I need to contribute in carbon offsets to make my Climate Walk more correct. I'll let you know when I figure it out.

Love, Nana Greta

PS - I responded to your comments in an older posting, the one about weather versus climate. 

Friday, May 15, 2009

Limping along

Hello, dear children -

If you look at the map that shows my progress, you will see that I'm not walking as much as usual. That's because I hurt my knee and I can only walk a little each day. I think it's getting better and I'll be walking more every day now. 

Love, Nana Greta

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Climate versus Weather

Dear Children,

I'm sending you a few more photos from Alabama. But first I want to write a bit about the difference between climate and weather, since I'm walking to bring attention to Climate Change not Weather Change. Do you know the difference?

Weather is what happens at a certain time in a definite place. For example, today it might be raining and warm in Boston, while it is dry but cold in São Paulo. And tomorrow it might be very windy in the morning but calm and gorgeous in the afternoon. 

Climate is about the conditions that prevail year after year in a certain area of the world, such as New England or Southern Brazil. Both Boston and São Paulo can be said to have humid sub-tropical climates, but Boston is quite a bit colder. São Paulo never gets snow, but even if it did snow on a strange weather day it would still have a subtropical climate. However, if it started getting snow every year we would say that the climate changed. 

Now this is actually happening around the world: the climate is changing. But it's not getting colder as the example I made up for São Paulo. It's getting warmer, which is where the term 'global warming' comes from. From our human point of view, it's getting warmer very slowly and some people don't even believe it. It can be hard to notice because it might not seem any warmer in some places. I read that the state of Alabama has actually experienced a cooling trend the last few years. But even if both Boston and São Paulo had unusually cold summers, the average temperature around the Earth would still be warmer. 

So we need to learn to pay attention to the weather where we live so that we know whether to wear a sweater or carry an umbrella, or if we should plan to go to the beach on the weekend. And we need to pay attention to the climate and try to stop the things that human beings do that are making it hotter,  because the heat brings with it some changes that are harmful to people, animals and plants.  

And now to the pictures. If you pay attention you will see something about the weather in Alabama this past week - no blue skies, because it was a very rainy week. 

Notice the stones that make up the walls of this shed. In the beginning of my walk, in Louisiana and southern Mississippi, there were no rocks, only shells and pebbles. But northern Alabama has hills with lots of rocky ridges.

Remember my photos from Mississippi, when the road was lined with pine trees? This looks very different.

Did you ever see dovecotes like this? They are made of gourds that have been painted white. If you look closely you will see little birds that are flying to the nests they've made inside the gourds.

This farm machine and the tree branches are reaching out to each other.

A pretty farm.


Nana Greta