Questions & Answers Wk 12

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Every week Team GoNorth! answers ten questions related to the module topic from student explorers -- so stay tuned and submit YOUR questions!

This is a good question! The relationship between the people and the dogs on the GoNorth Team is very strong and trust is very high. It is important to keep in mind that people and dogs are different animals and as such prefer different environments and behaviors.

Dogs enjoy security, having a job to do, and pack order. When the Polar Huskies are staked out at night they understand they have two jobs to do, guard and sleep. They enjoy staying focused on this job and also have a great sense of security from knowing exactly where everyone will be for the night. The Polar Huskies know the team is right there with them on the stake out line and in the tents.

As for polar bears, this is where the stake out line and tent placement is very important. We are visitors in this land and we do not want to disrupt the environment at all, this includes leaving the polar bears alone. The stake out line works in a few ways to ensure polar bears keep a safe distance.

First, the stake out lines allow the polar huskies to pick up the smell of a polar bear from far away and they will start howling to alert the people on the team to wake up! There is a bear out there! The howling also serves as a warning to the polar bear that you are out numbered, you want to stay away.

Second, if the polar bear comes close to camp despite the warning howl, the stake out lines serve a second purpose. The stake out lines keep the Polar Huskies in order standing their ground against the bear. We do not want the Polar Huskies to hurt the bear, just scare the bear away, so the line prevents the Polar Huskies from getting too close and hurting the bear.

Now from the bear's perspective, he or she would not want to mess with a pack of dogs in formation. The stake out lines keep the Polar Huskies side by side spaced several feet apart, that presents a much stronger presence than if the pack were running around loose.

We have yet to meet a bear that hasn't felt completely outnumbered after looking up and down both lines of Polar Huskies. Polar bears are very intelligent and can determine when they are in a situation that is to their disadvantage. The stake out lines give polar bears the opportunity to turn around and leave unharmed.

Please help us understand why the dogs are tied down for the night.  With the relationship between the GoNorth! team and the dogs one would think they would not take off. Also what if a bear wandered into camp? How would they escape?

submitted by:
Mary

answer provided by: GoNorth! Expert: Lisa Suatoni

I am part of a team of professionals that work on ocean conservation.  I am the only scientist.  The other people on the team are lawyers, policy experts, lobbyists in Washington DC.


 

Are you part of a team of researchers at the NRDC? If so, how many are on the team and do you all do the same thing?

(asked during the wk 12 chat)

submitted by:
George Washington MS 7th Graders

answer provided by: GoNorth! Expert: Lisa Suatoni

That is a very powerful image.  That was a real pteropod shell and it was put in seawater that has the predicted chemistry of the Antarctic in 2100.  It dissolved within days (that was time-lapse photography over a few days).  It was a real experiment.  It's only departure from 'real-life' was that there was no living snail in the shell at the time.  If a snail was living in it, it would have tried to lay down new shell as it's home was dissolving.  This may have delayed the time to total dissolution.  Scientists have done this with living snails and they eventually dissolve as well.  So it really wasn’t that big an exaggeration.



 

In the Acid Test we were all upset by the shell in the polar ice water dissolving. We then had much discussion if this was exaggerated or not. Do you think that was an accurate representation of what will happen? It was very upsetting to us.

(asked during the wk 12 chat)

submitted by:
George Washington MS 7th Graders

answer provided by: GoNorth! Expert: Lisa Suatoni

That's another good question!  What we know about oil spills from past experience is that once the oil is out in the environment, there is very little we can do to recover it.  Oil spill response teams have a bad record of successfully containing or recovering the oil.  Typically - despite all the money and effort - only 1-5% of the oil gets recovered.  This does little to help the marine ecosystem recover.  It's just too little, too late.  We really need to make sure that these accidents don't happen.


 

We read about people using hair, fur and pantyhose to soak up oil like big sponges. While it won't take care of all of it, do you think it will help?

(asked during the wk 12 chat)

submitted by:
Jefferson Senior High

answer provided by: GoNorth! Expert: Lisa Suatoni

We made Acid Test for public education but also as a tool to take to Congress. We have shown the film to the senate and the house and so have tried to take the message directly to Capital Hill. This was very successful. We found that about 1/2 of the senators that we met with did not know what ocean acidification was. To get the message out to the public is harder. But, because Sigourney Weaver is the narrator - and willing to do many interviews - the press has covered the topic and the movie a few times. Sigourney was even on Fox News!


 

In Acid Test found the Ocean Corrosiveness graphics the resulting effects this will have on the food web to be very powerful images. Is there a way to get things like that in the news more so more people will pay attention and see why this is a big deal?

(asked during the wk 12 chat)

submitted by:
Jefferson Senior High

answer provided by: GoNorth! Expert: Lisa Suatoni

That is a good question and a good point.  We could and should establish more Marine Protected Areas.  Right now only 1% of the sea is protected.  The ocean currents both hurt and help marine protected areas.  Because the water in the ocean is well mixed, marine protected areas are not protected from water pollution (nutrients, CO2, plastics) BUT they do benefit from the currents because they have new source of animals floating by every day AND they give healthy baby fish and invertebrates to the environment around them.  Scientists believe that the intact, healthy communities inside the marine protected areas can better withstand the stresses of water pollution.


 

Can't more waters become Marine Protected areas? Or is it because of currents that it won't matter since the flow would damage areas anyway?

(asked during the wk 12 chat)

submitted by:
MPS

answer provided by: GoNorth! Expert: Lisa Suatoni

That's a good question.  I really don't know.  There is one bad scenario that could cause this.  IF the oil makes it to land and into the marshes and a hurricane comes along and pushes that oil inland, then I think it could pollute some fresh water supplies.


 

Could drinking water be impacted because of this oil spill?

(asked during the wk 12 chat)

submitted by:
Mrs. Weipert's 5th Grade Class

answer provided by: GoNorth! Expert: Lisa Suatoni

That is a hard question!  I think thousands of species will be affected.  That does not mean they will die, or go extinct, but they will have their way of life change.  Because it will be harder for shelled organisms to build their shells they will have less energy for other things like eating and reproducing.  It would be as if the rent on your house suddenly increased by a lot of money.  Your parents would have less money for food, and vacations, and toys.


 

How many species do you predict will be affected?

(asked during the wk 12 chat)

submitted by:
Mrs. Weipert's 5th Grade Class

answer provided by: GoNorth! Expert: Lisa Suatoni

Yes.  You can make sure to eat fish that is sustainably caught.  There are many organizations like the Monterey Bay Aquarium that produce wallet cards to remind people what fish is good to eat (healthy and sustainable).  Also, you can do your part to reduce your use of oil.  BUT, the most important thing to do is to write to your Congressmen and Congresswomen and tell them that you care about the oceans.  There are a number of laws that are being written to help the seas (including the climate and energy bill that is being introduced today!) that should be passed.


Is there anything we students can do to help make the oceans more healthy?

(asked during the wk 12 chat)

submitted by:
Wilson Library

answer provided by: GoNorth! Expert: Lisa Suatoni

Pollution from land has a HUGE impact on ocean waters and marine life.  The film Acid Test showed one example that is often overlooked.  Carbon dioxide from our burning fossil fuels goes into the oceans and makes them more acidic.  But, there are other types of land pollution as well.  Fertilizers from lawns and from agricultural fields (farms) flows into the seas from rivers and this causes huge algae blooms and regions of low oxygen.  We call these 'dead zones'.  Another type of land pollution in the oceans is PLASTIC!  Much of the litter on land can make its way to the oceans by rivers.  This is a problem for ocean wildlife.


How does our pollution on land effect life in the waters?

(asked during the wk 12 chat)

submitted by:
Wilson Library