Environmental Science Question
Discussion Post You might remember the most recent major American oil spill, the Deepwater Horizon (Links to an external site.), which cost 11 lives and leaked 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. There have been dozens of smaller oil spills since then; oil spills are so common they don’t always make the news. The oil companies involved in Deepwater Horizon still have not paid for the damages, and, like the Exxon Valdez spill, the oil is still washing ashore in some places. In many cases, including Deepwater Horizon, the majority of the cleanup is being paid for by you, the taxpayer. (Links to an external site.)
In this week’s discussion, I’d like you to make an initial post of a paragraph or more about pollution control and responsibility. Address one or more of the following questions: When oil spills like this happen, who is responsible for the pollution? Who should pay for the cleanup? How much should they pay? How might this be enforced? How should the spill be cleaned up?
Everyone should address this question at the end of their post: Should we continue to explore and expand offshore drilling operations? Why or why not?
Assignment This week, you will be doing some Citizen Science. Citizen Science is when the general public is invited to be involved in general public in scientific research projects. Conservation Biologists will use citizen scientists when they need a lot of eyes and ears looking out for species. For example, there just aren’t enough scientists out there to count all of the birds, so we have the Christmas Bird Counts (Links to an external site.), where anyone can go out and count the birds in their backyards on Christmas and enter the results into a big database. The more data, the more we can all learn where different species live and which birds are becoming threatened.
We track species in lots of different ways. One way to track land animals is to set up a bunch of motion-activated cameras that take pictures when something moves near it. Researchers in Singita Grumeti Game Reserve (Links to an external site.) in Tanzania are using motion-activated trail cameras to track the wildebeest migration. Hundreds of thousands of photos captured by these trail cameras are now available on Snapshot Grumeti, an online citizen science platform that allows the public to identify the animals in these photos. The data recorded will be used directly by scientists to help with their conservation efforts. That’s where you come in! You’ll be looking at some of these pictures and recording for the scientists what you see.
Step 1: Learn about the research project here: https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/meredithspalme…
Step 2: Go to the website here https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/meredithspalmer/snapshot-grumeti (Links to an external site.). Under “Getting Started” click on “Snapshot Grumeti.
Note: Some students have found themselves on the “Empty or Not” page. It will ask you if there’s an animal in the picture instead of guiding you to identify it. I’m not sure why the website directs some people there, but you want to backtrack by clicking on Snapshot Grumeti in the top right and clicking on Snapshot Grumeti.
Step 3: Make your observations. Look at 15 photos with animals and identify the species using the guide on the website. If there are no animals in the picture, record that on the website, but it won’t count towards your 15. There are little icons that will help you classify the species based on shape, coat pattern, horn shape, etc. Use the Field Guide tab on the right side to help you identify the animals. Record your observations on the website. Congratulations, you’re a citizen scientist!
Step 4: In addition to marking your observations on the website, record your observations in a word file and upload it to turn in
This is what you turn in:
Make a list of at least 15 photos that you looked at WITH ANIMALS (skip ones without). For each photo, identify the species in the photo and what they are doing. Also, describe the habitat shown in the photo to the best of your abilities: is it desert? Are there a lot of plants? Does it look lush or barren? Are humans in the picture? What are they doing?
For example, in the picture you might write:
Picture 1: Two adult waterbucks. One is grazing, the other, a large male, is lying down. The surrounding habitat is a lush grassland, with 3 trees in the distance. Partly cloudy skies.
I’ll be looking for a list of 15 photos, each with the species and activities in view, habitat, and any other environmental observations. You don’t have to copy the pictures themselves.
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