As part of our community outreach effort to invite families to join Nature’s Trust RI campaign , Pamela Lezaeta and Suzanne Enzer, parents of Compass school, prepared an informational booth at the annual Eco Fair event of Compass, a public charter school in Kingston (RI). We collected signatures of interested parents and displayed educational experiments for children to see examples of the impacts of global warming. One experiment demonstrated the increase in ocean acidification due to increasing CO2 uptake from the atmosphere. Ocean acidification is the process in which the excess atmospheric CO2 dissolves into the ocean and is converted to corrosive carbonic acid. The simulation was done with a mix of water and bromothymol blue dye that would change to yellow as the PH level decreases with the absorption of CO2. One experiment simulated the ocean uptake of CO2 by a person blowing into the solution with a straw. The solution would slowly absorb the C02 flow manifested in a gradual change of color to a light green. The other simulation was done by inserting dry ice (frozen CO2) into the blue solution, making the demonstration more dramatic, bubbling with a rapid change of color to a bright yellow (lower PH).
The following video published by NOAA demonstrates the devastating impact of ocean acidification produced by the uptake of too much CO2 concentrating in the atmosphere.
Other experiment consisted in sea shells dissolving in an acid solution (acetic acid), which is a corrosive environment (made of carbonic acid) for the sea shells made of Calcium carbonate. As the sea shell dissolves, the original carbon of its body is released as a gas. The gas is trapped with a balloon that would grow as the shell dissolved into CO2. This experiment demonstrated the corrosive environment of ocean acidification, making the build up of Calcium Carbonate organisms (such as Coral reefs) unsustainable in an acid ocean. The gas trapped by the balloon provided a visual representation on how much carbon was needed to build the sea shell. Ocean acidification not only affects the food web of the sea but also diminishes the capability of the ocean to absorb carbon from the atmosphere.
The PMEL carbon program NOAA website offers a concise explanation on the causes and consequences of ocean acidification.
A third experiment measured the time difference for ice blocks of different sizes to melt in water, comparing seven small ice blocks of equivalent mass with that of a single large block, to demonstrate how melting of a glacier speeds up as it breaks down into smaller pieces. This experiment illustrates what is happening in Antarctic and the Artic with increasing air and sea temperatures, as a large ice sheet breaks up into pieces, the melting rate accelerates on the newly exposed ice surfaces.
Below is the brochure shared at the Eco Fair:
We also shared information on current national and state incentives for switching to renewable sources of energy, which the public is not always aware since the information is not widely available: Newsletter Incentives to Green Up. A collective effort to reduce personal carbon footprint will, however, not be enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a sustainable level if the state continues the dependence on fossil fuels for energy generation and transportation.