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Smithsonian Online Education Conference  - Climate Change
Conference Sessions


Climate Change: Carbon Dioxide, Context, and Certainties
Bert Drake

Plant Physiologist, Senior Scientist
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

What do we know about the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and what is the evidence of the relationships between carbon and climate? Join Bert Drake, the principal scientific investigator of the longest-running experiment measuring the impact of rising atmospheric CO2 on land ecosystems, as he outlines the big picture and takes participants’ questions. Bert’s presentation will also provide a fascinating historical context: the Smithsonian’s long involvement in studying climate change.
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Looking Forward by Looking Back: What Does the Fossil Record Say About Climate Change?
Scott Wing

Curator of Fossil Plants, Department of Paleobiology
National Museum of Natural History

What does the fossil record tell us about past changes in climate and the effects on plants and animals? Back from his most recent fieldwork in Wyoming, Scott Wing will share with us the exciting story of his discoveries about the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, a period over 55 million years ago when the average temperature of Earth warmed nine degrees in a geological instant. Wing’s work on plant fossils shows that the rapid warming was accompanied by decreasing rainfall and a radical shift in where plants lived. We will discuss the many parallels between this ancient episode and predicted future climate change.
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Mangroves and Seagrass Communities: Biological Studies at Galeta Island, Panama
Stanley Heckadon-Moreno

Director of Communications and Public Programs
Coordinator, Galeta Point Marine Laboratory
Smithsonian Tropical Research Center

We will begin Day 3 at STRI's Galeta Island Marine Education Center in Panama. Galeta is adjacent to a coral reef, a mangrove forest, and seagrass beds that harbor all manner of marine life. It is the site of an intense study of the biological effects of a major oil spill, as well as ongoing environmental monitoring. Heckadon-Moreno will join us remotely from Galeta to show us the research being done there.
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Biodiversity and Climate Change
Francisco Dallmeier

Director, Center for Conservation Education and Sustainability
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
National Zoological Park

How is climate change affecting biodiversity on Earth? In his interactive talk, Dallmeier will highlight some of the animal species around the world that have been impacted by shifting climates. Pointing toward the future, he will also discuss new initiatives for studying biodiversity and climate change.
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Changing Cultures and Environment in the Arctic: Prehistory to Modern Times
Bill Fitzhugh

Curator of Archaeology
Director, Arctic Studies Center
National Museum of Natural History

How have peoples in the past dealt with changing climate and environment? Is the Arctic a “bell-weather”—the proverbial “canary in the mine”—for climate impacts on the wider world? Studying long-term historical change has profound application to modern issues today. Fitzhugh will lead you on an exploration of the impact of climate change on northern peoples, both ancient and modern. Using case studies of groups like the Vikings, the ancient Mongolians, Eskimos, and modern residents of arctic regions, he’ll discuss with you the range of human interactions with the environment in the frozen north—a frontline of studies of climate change.
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Coral Reefs: Impacts of Climate Change and Ocean Acidification on Aquatic Ecosystems
Nancy Knowlton

Sant Chair for Marine Science
National Museum of Natural History

Knowlton will take our exploration of climate change underwater—to the coral reefs, home to one quarter of all the earth’s species. Drawing on her work in Jamaica and Panama, she’ll describe changes in temperature and ocean chemistry and the impact of these changes on both biodiversity and the ability of reefs to support people. She’ll conclude by offering evidence that local protection (managing fishing and pollution) can make a positive difference to the ability of these ecosystems to withstand the impacts of global change caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
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From Impact to Action: Wildlife Experts Share Data, Stories, and Responses from Young People
Don Moore

Associate Director for Animal Care
National Zoological Park

Joe Sacco
Associate Director of Education, Friends of the National Zoo
National Zoological Park

Along with these experts from the National Zoo, you’ll be part of a discussion about how climate change, wildlife, and what some young people are doing to make a difference. The Zoo team will give you an overview of the issue while delving deeply into the specific impact of global warming on one specific population -- Arctic polar bears. On a positive note, they’ll discuss the work of empowered youth taking small and large steps to protect our planet’s wildlife.
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Indigenous Geography and Native Science
Doug Herman

Senior Geographer
National Museum of the American Indian

What does the study of indigenous geography—which links the environment, social organization, political structures, and cultural systems—tell us about Native ways of understanding? Herman will guide us in a discussion of “Native science,” how it differs from western science, and how it might be applied to climate change studies.
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Inventing Our Way Out of the Climate Change Problem? Innovative Youth Tackle the Issue
Tricia Edwards

Educator, Lemelson Center
National Museum of American History

Can new inventions help us with climate change issues? Edwards introduces us to the work of inventors concerned with sustainability issues, as well as to her own work in bringing young inventors and research scientists together on projects that address climate change. By showcasing their innovations, Edwards inspires all of us to tap into our creativity and scientific understanding in addressing issues that face us all.
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A Virtual Field Trip to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center: Studies in the Coastal Zone
A. Mark Haddon

Director of Education
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Finding climate change to be a complicated topic to bring into the classroom? Let Mark Haddon help you make sense of the subject! Haddon designs environmental education programs that integrate research methods and data collecting at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), the world's leading research center for environmental studies of the coastal zone. Take a virtual fieldtrip to the center from the comfort of your computer and interact with Haddon as he describes approaches to teaching climate change using Smithsonian resources.
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Artists and Environmental Sustainability: Video Art, Ecology and the Work of Paul Ryan
Charles Duncan

Collections Specialist
Archives of American Art

Duncan takes us to the intersections of art, communications, and ecology. He discusses the emergence of video as a medium and how it has been heralded by artists such as Paul Ryan as a visual tool for “scoring” the environment and eliciting community participation in issues of sustainability. To conclude the last session of Day 2, Duncan will share with us documents and video clips that illustrate the rich possibilities inherent in Ryan’s groundbreaking work.
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Panel Discussion
Edward E. Geary
GLOBE Program

Leonard P. Hirsch

Senior Policy Advisor
Smithsonian Institution

Scott Richardson
K-12 Program Coordinator, Learn and Serve America
Corporation for National and Community Service

Join a panel of experts for this closing session. What open questions can anchor your future discussions, activities, and actions? The team addresses your comments and offers guidance on how you can use what you’ve learned about this significant issue.
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Ginkgo fossil

Dr. Scott Wing has used fossils like this to estimate the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere during the Eocene.
Photo by James DiLoreto © Smithsonian Institution

Why the Ginkgo?

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The Smithsonian Education Online Conference: Climate Change is made possible by generous support from the Donnelley Foundation and the Smithsonian’s Office of the Chief Information Officer.

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