Buried underpants and tea bags help scientists evaluate soil

Buried underpants and tea bags help scientists evaluate soil

Swiss citizens are burying cotton underpants and tea bags in their gardens and fields to help scientists assess the quality of soil in the Alpine nation. (Photo courtesy of Beweisstück Unterhose) Bury underpants and tea bags in your garden? Why not, thought scientist...

Student reporter Luis Eberl of Realgymnasium Rämibühl in Zurich, Switzerland, interviewed scientist Marcel van der Heijden of the University of Zurich about an experiment to find ways to slow down or prevent soil deterioration caused by erosion, construction, pesticides and drought. The project invites citizens to test their own soil by planting tea bags and cotton underpants – two common household items – and then testing the level of deterioration. Eberl shows how scientists are engaging everyday people in climate change projects to demonstrate that individuals’ small actions can lead to global solutions.

Exercise: Interviewing an expert for a story is a great way to get information to readers that might not be reported elsewhere. Have students think of an issue that would be important to report and see if they can identify an expert who might be good to interview for a story on that issue.

Decoder: What happens if you buy a carbon credit?

Decoder: What happens if you buy a carbon credit?

I am interested in carbon credits — permits that offset greenhouse emissions. So I bought a tonne of carbon. Here’s what I learned. (Photo courtesy of Cory Willis of Willis Farms, Inc. in Tennessee, United States) Anyone with a credit card and the inclination...

Climate change is an existential challenge that resonates particularly strongly with young people, but much of the debate around how to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius remains abstract. Carbon credits are considered part of the solution, but just what is a carbon credit? Monica Kidd, a Global Journalism Fellow at the University of Toronto Dalla Lana School of Public Health, asked herself that same question, but instead of simply consulting a text book, she went out and bought a tonne of carbon for $15 and then listened to the farmer who made the sale explain how it works and why carbon credits are not a silver bullet in the climate fight. Understanding the complexities of problems is the sine qua non to pinpointing solutions.

Exercise: Break students into groups and ask each group to buy a tonne of carbon and then explain how they have contributed to the fight against global warming and why it is not enough.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine imperils Arctic cooperation

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine imperils Arctic cooperation

The Arctic has long been a region of peace. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is jeopardizing cooperation in the vast zone threatened by climate change. An Inuit family in Quinhagak, Alaska, 2015 (Photo by Brian Adams, courtesy of the Inuit Circumpolar Council)...

War in Ukraine has unleashed a tsunami of ink – about geopolitics, military alliances, weaponry, diplomacy, history. A relatively little noticed but hugely important angle is the future of the Arctic, which has eight nations, including two nuclear powers, the United States and Russia, staking a claim to portions of the vast region. Susanne Courtney introduces us to the relatively little known Arctic Council, which is sure to assume more and more importance as global warming opens up new shipping routes and facilitates the extraction of valuable natural resources. It’s never too early to be ahead of the news curve.

Exercise: Ask your students to debate the resolution: “Seven member states of the Arctic Council acted unwisely in boycotting talks with Moscow after Russia invaded Ukraine.”

Environment