Making Climate Change Real [SURE Stories]

23 Apr

–This post is written by Valerie Rodden and Allison Paisner, UHP students and SURE Award winner–

Allison and Valerie placing the carbon dioxide sensor into the climate light house in Prof. Miller's lab.

Neither of us imagined that we would be actively working to combat climate change through the creation and installation of a carbon dioxide sensing device on our campus in the fall of our freshman year. We signed up for the course, Making Climate Change Real, because we have a genuine interest in the changing climate and wanted to learn more about the effects that human activity has on the environment. We accurately predicted that through this course we would learn all about climate change, greenhouse gases, and global warming, but we didn’t gather this information from a textbook or a lecture. Instead, we gained this knowledge from intensive research, class discussions and hands on data gathering through the creation of a carbon dioxide sensing post.

The first few weeks were spent researching the history of climate change and current issues surrounding the topic. After we established that this was indeed a topic that needed to be addressed on our campus we attempted to figure out how we could do something positive to combat the damage that human activity has on climate change. Through further research and discussion we came to the idea of using the level of carbon dioxide in the air (something we could tangibly measure) to the human impact on the climate. The generous aid of the Honors Program and the SURE award allowed us to purchase the necessary materials to build a carbon dioxide sensor that has been measuring carbon dioxide levels on the GW campus for the past few months.

Currently, we are working on the finishing touches of our climate change light posts that will be placed around the GW campus and portray the carbon dioxide levels for the entire community to see. The color of light emitted from the light post will be correlated with the carbon dioxide level in the air, allowing a simple method of communication between the science and the people. It is our hope that these light posts will promote awareness of the impact that we, the GW community, has on the environment and lead to a more environmentally engaged and sustainable campus. It is also our hope that the climate change light posts will lead into more projects with similar objectives and eventually lower levels of carbon dioxide in our air!

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