Label: Conservation

April 30, 2011

I am so proud of all of you who wrote to me in response to Earth Day! Today, the last day of April, we posted almost 300 promises that you have made to Earth Day’s BILLION ACTS OF GREEN website. Seymour Science readers have really stepped up to make a difference! I feel sure that you will all work hard to continue caring for our planet Earth every day.

As promised, we are publishing everyone’s writing about why they care about Earth Day. This list is alphabetical, so find your name and show your writing to your families, your teachers, your librarians and your friends. You are part of an important cause, and each of you deserves to be very proud of what you’ve done. 




Dear Mr. Simon, My carbon footprint was very surprising to me. To know how large of a footprint I am leaving is mind blowing. My carbon foot is 19.9. I have a fairly large family. I have 5 people in my family. To reduce my carbon footprint I could turn off the T.V. when I am not watching it. Also, I could reduce the amount of time I use the T.V. Another thing I could do is buy a reusable water bottle. I could also eat less fast food.  Sincerely, Alana




Alana B.:           

  I am going to celebrate Earth month 2011 by doing many good things for the Earth. A few things that I will do is cleaning up the nearby creeks and roads. Also, I will make the people that surround me aware of the Earth and how much we need to help it.




I love trees and that’s why I don’t waste paper so I recycle and encourage others to care about are world like a mother would care for her newborn. We can all do this together so join me!




  Hey Seymour Simon!  Our class is recycling all of our paper to help the environment!!!!!!!! Our class is going green!!!!!






  I am going to help my neighbors recycle (pick up) stray trash on the streets and our community!  Earth Day is everyday! ALWAYS RECYCLE!





  Me and my mom grow our own food like fruits and vegetables. Maybe I could start a garden at my dad’s too and that is how I will help the earth.



Amelia P.:           

  Hey Seymour Simon! Our class (Ms.Wolf’s class.) is going green! We are recycling all of our old papers! Your butterfly garden is really cool!



Andrew H.:           

  Dear Seymour Simon, 
My name is Andrew and I am a student at Churchville Elementary. My carbon footprint was 16.25. I am not too proud about that so I’ve been trying to lessen that score by walking more to "baseball practice" or my friend’s house. I also am only washing my clothes when I need to. My new wash day is Friday instead of ever other day. I also bought an aluminum bottle for water. I thank you for this opportunity to write back to you. Sincerely, Andrew


  My Earth Day Pledge is that I will never ever litter,

and not use too much electricity. 




  Here’s my idea to save the earth: when you’re done with electric appliances, more

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(4) Comments  •   Labels: Global Warming, Kids Write, Conservation, Environment, Earth Day 2011   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 21, 2011

Earlier this week we wrote about the first Earth Day, 41 years ago. Today, we’re looking at what scientists and other planners imagine our world will be like forty-one years in the future.

By the year 2050, it is estimated that the world’s population will increase by about 3 billion people, and nearly 80% of us will live in cities. Think about all the greenhouse gases we would generate trucking in enough food to feed all these people. And, if we tried to grow enough food to feed everyone using the same farming techniques that we use today, we would need to find new farmland covering an area as large as the size of the United States! Since we are already using almost all of the land that is suitable for farming, we need to invent new ways to produce food.



Some people think that vertical farming - bringing the farm to the city, and finding the space to do it by expanding upward - is the answer. In fact, people already practice vertical farming in their own, small city gardens. Can you imagine what it would be like if you tried it on a very big scale, and built a skyscraper that was basically a farm?

Photo Credit: Blaine O’Neill 

I first heard about vertical farming when I saw Dr. Dickson Despommier being interviewed on The Colbert Report. Dr. Despommier, of Columbia University, believes that we can grow food-including fish and poultry-in urban buildings as tall as 30 stories and covering a city block.

This drawing, from his website, shows a farm which grows plants without soil, either hydroponically (in a liquid) or aeroponically (in the air). This would reduce water use, since all the water used to grow the food would be recycled and used again, and greatly reduce the cost of transporting food to all these people who live in cities. The benefits, as he sees them, are:

1. Year-round, indoor farming produces 4-6 times more food
2. Everything grown is organic (no chemical pesticides)
3. Big reduction in use of fossil fuel use (less trucking of food to distant locations)
4. Less water consumption - a vertical farm recycles the water it uses
5. Avoids weather-related crop failures, a cause of famine and starvation

Although no one has built one of these "skyscraper farms" yet, lots of architects are thinking about it, and they are drawing their ideas.

This design was created by a company called Work AC. "We are interested in urban farming and the notion of trying to make our cities more sustainable by cutting the miles that food travels," one of the designers told New York Magazine. In their design, the space underneath the farm is intended to be a farmer’s market, where urban residents could come to buy their food.

Who knows? Maybe by the time Earth Day 2051 comes around, people will be so used to the idea of vertical farms that they won’t even remember how we used to do it.

What else do you imagine we might be doing differently 40 years from now, as we learn to take better care of our planet home?



What are you doing this Earth Week to contribute to the Billion Acts of Green? Click on "Comments," at the bottom of this story, and tell us how you are celebrating Earth Day 2011. We will publish all your comments in one big article, to honor each writer’s promise to protect our planet, and inspire other readers to do the same.


Posted by: Liz Nealon

(7) Comments  •   Labels: Conservation, Earth Day 2011   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 20, 2011


a)   I don’t buy water in plastic bottles. Water from the tap is just fine, and I don’t want to put more non-biodegradable plastic into landfills.

b)   I turn off the water until after I’ve finished brushing my teeth, and wash all the dishes in one sinkful of soapy water, rather than running water the whole time I’m washing the dishes.

c)   I have cut my soda consumption down by more than half. I like water better, anyway.



a) I have replaced all the incandescent bulbs in my house with compact fluorescent bulbs.

b) We are using less energy by keeping our house two degrees warmer in the summer and two degrees cooler in the winter.

c) I unplug appliances when they are not in use for long periods of time. If they’re plugged and even when they are not turned on, they still consume electricity.



a) I walk or bike rather than be driven whenever I can, and try to combine errands into one trip.

b) I am writing to my local government to ask them to design car-free zones and parks that would let people get places by walking, cycling, or driving those cute, tiny electric vehicles.

c) Next time my family buys a car, we want to pick a model that gets good gas mileage, and therefore uses less fuel.



a) I don’t like vegetables, so I just don’t eat any. You’re not responsible for greenhouse gases generated by growing food that you don’t eat!

b) I only buy fruits and vegetables when they are in season so they are not flown in from tropical climates. And I try to buy produce that is grown locally, which further reduces the carbon footprint.

c) Our family has "meatless Monday" every week.











1.   While all these things help, "c" is the best answer. The main ingredient of soft drinks is water - so the big soda companies use massive amounts of water on a global basis. And, cutting down on soda consumption is good for your body, too!


2.   "b" is the best answer. Electric power generation is a big source of greenhouse gases - the average home contributes more to global warming than the average car. The worst appliances are air conditioners, which use up to 1/6th of the electricity in the U.S.


3.   All good answers, but "c" is the most important thing all Americans can do. By using existing technology to produce vehicles that go farther on a gallon of gas and emit less carbon dioxide pollution, Americans can save billions of dollars, reduce global warming pollution, and slash our dependence on oil.


4.   You may be surprised to learn that the most effective choice is "c". Raising animals for food generates more emissions than all of the world’s transportation combined. And for all of you who answered "a" your vegetables, they’re good for you!

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Global Warming, Conservation, Earth Day 2011, Carbon Footprint   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 20, 2011

I received a letter yesterday from Ashley C, who is ten years old. She wrote:

"For my project for Earth Day, I’m going to go around my

park and pick up trash. Also, I’m going to go around the house in the

morning, afternoon, and at night and look at the faucets and turn off all of the dripping water.


Do you think that would be good?" 

  Checking for dripping faucets (and fixing them) is a very good idea. You can actually calculate (not exactly, but roughly) how much water a dripping faucet wastes with this simple calculator created by the US Geological Survey.

I used their calculator to estimate what would happen if your home had 3 faucets dripping every 3 seconds. That would be 86,400 drips every day, which comes to about 5 gallons of water wasted every day. And if you waste 5 gallons a day, that is almost 2,000 gallons a year!


Click here to read other stories that I have written about the importance of conserving water. While it’s true that our planet Earth looks like a big blue ball because 75% of it is covered by water, a lot of that water is not usable in that form, either because it is salt water (in the oceans) or because it is frozen (in glaciers and the polar icecaps).  Water, which all life needs to survive, is a limited resource that we must conserve and protect.


What are you doing this Earth Week to contribute to the global effort to pledge a Billion Acts of Green? Click on "Comments," at the bottom of this story, and tell me what you are doing. We will publish all your comments in one big article at the end of Earth Week, to honor each writer’s promise to protect our planet, and inspire other readers to do the same.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Kids Write, Conservation, Earth Day 2011   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 19, 2011

        Today’s "Cool photo of the Week" is from the very first Earth Day, April 22, 1970. Forty years ago we didn’t have the kind of environmental protection laws that we have today. One of my favorite writers, Rachel Carson, had just published a book called SILENT SPRINGIn it she warned that an artificial pesticide called DDT, which was in wide use at the time, could cause human sickness and major ecological damage. Imagine a time when major bodies of water were too polluted to support aquatic life, and Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River was so polluted with oil and toxic chemicals that it burst into flames by spontaneous combustion! That was the scene when Earth Day was first established 41 years ago by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson.


College students, in particular, rose to the call, and turned out in the millions to demonstrate in support of new environmental protections on that first Earth Day. In New York City, a Pace University student named Peter Hallerman grabbed an old gas mask (his mother had been a nurse in World War II), and took it with him to the demonstration. A photographer snapped this picture, and it has become a world famous symbol of Earth Day through the years.

 When I began writing books, Rachel Carson was the writer who most influenced me. I remember reading her wonderful book THE SEA AROUND US and thinking that I would love to write books about nature and science with the same sense of awe and admiration that she showed in her writings. Rachel Carson inspired me to write when I began and still inspires me to this day. What better time to celebrate her books than now on Earth Day! 



What are you doing this Earth Week to contribute to the global effort to pledge a Billion Acts of Green? Click on “Comments,” at the bottom of this story, and tell me what you are doing. We will publish all your comments in one big article at the end of Earth Week, to honor each writer’s promise to protect our planet, and inspire other readers to do the same.



Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Cool Photo, Conservation, Earth Day 2011   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 17, 2011

The theme for Earth Day 2011 is "A Billion Acts of Green." People from all over our planet are making promises to change their habits or try new activities that will help to "green" our planet by limiting the amount of energy they use, decreasing the amount of waste they produce, and protecting and creating habitats for other living creatures.

I would like the readers of my Seymour Science blog to tell me what they are doing to reduce their impact on Earth’s resources. A big group of you contributed to Friday’s story, telling us what you are doing to reduce your carbon footprints. Your commitment to our planet Earth and your promises are inspiring!

Now, I’d like to hear from the rest of you. Click on "Comments," at the bottom of this story, and tell me what you are going to do, not only in honor of Earth Day, but ongoing.  We will publish all your comments in one big article at the end of Earth Week, to recognize your efforts and inspire other readers to do the same.

Do you need some help to get you started? Some ideas about what you can do to help our environment? Some of my earlier articles, like this story on Global Warming, or another one called "Earth by the Numbers" both have lots of simple ideas for things you can do to make your environment a greener place. 

As I write this on Sunday morning, more than 96 MILLION PEOPLE have clicked on the Earth Day website to enter their promises as part of the "Billion Acts of Green." One of the great things about being green is that kids can really make a difference, just as much as adults can. Let’s talk about what we are going to do, and share our own green actions with each other. After all, we only have one planet home.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: Teachers and Librarians, Conservation, Earth Science Books, Earth Day 2011   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 15, 2011


Today’s "Cool Photo of the Week" is a 6-week-old snow leopard cub, sitting for her weekly weigh-in at Tennessee’s Chattanooga Zoo. This cub is the only survivor of three cubs born to the mother leopard in January, and she is a success story in the zoo’s conservation effort. The zoo works with the Snow Leopard Trust  to breed these endangered big cats, raise funds for research, and help preserve the species. Though snow leopard cubs only have a 30 percent survival rate, this baby is healthy and gaining about a pound a week.

 This little cub does not have a name yet, and the zookeepers are looking for suggestions. If you have an idea, write a comment here and we will pass your suggestions on. You could be the lucky reader to name this beautiful snow leopard! The zoo’s deadline for naming the baby is April 25, so send your ideas in now.

The Snow Leopard is a large cat native to the high mountain ranges of South Asia and Central Asia. They were nearly hunted into extinction because their bones are considered powerful ingredients in traditional Asian medicine. Researchers estimate that between 3,500 and 7,000 snow leopards are left in the wild (and another 600 - 700 in zoos). These beautiful cats are hard to spot, since they are naturally secretive and their white coats act as camouflage in the snow.  So, researchers rely on other ways of detecting a snow leopard’s presence, including looking for scrapes (snow leopards scrape their back legs in loose soil, leaving a small hole with a pile of soil next to it), scent markings (they claim their territory by spraying rocks and bushes with a strong-smelling liquid from a scent gland near the tail) and scat (also known as feces, or "droppings").


Photo: Chattanooga Zoo 


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(6) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Animals, Cool Photo, Contests, Conservation   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 1, 2011

Water is essential to life on earth. We need water to grow food, keep clean, provide power, control fire, and last but not least, we need it to stay alive!

Kids often ask me: If water is constantly being cleaned and recycled through the earth’s water cycle, why do we need to conserve it?


So let’s start with understanding how this thing called THE WATER CYCLE works.

1.    Evaporation. The sun heats water in rivers, lakes, and the ocean and turns it into vapor (fog, mist, or steam), and the vapor rises into the air.

2.    Condensation. When the vapor cools down, it turns into tiny drops of water that cling to each other and form clouds.

3.    Precipitation. The water falls from the clouds in the form of rain, snow, sleet or even hail.

4.    Runoff. Some of the precipitation is collected in Earth’s rivers, lakes, streams, and reservoirs. In our country, we clean this water in treatment plants and use it to meet our basic needs.

However, there is not unlimited water for humans to use. While it’s true that our planet Earth looks like a big blue ball because 75% of it is covered by water, a lot of that water is not usable in that form, either because it is salt water (in the oceans) or because it is frozen (in glaciers and the polar icecaps).  For this reason, water is a limited resource that we must conserve and protect.

There are other benefits to saving water. You save energy by using less hot water (reducing your family’s carbon footprint), and when you’re using less energy, you’re also saving money. A win all around!

What can you and your family do to conserve water? Here’s how you can change your daily habits and make a big difference:

·      When it’s time to brush your teeth, fill a glass of water, turn off the faucet, and brush for two minutes. Then, use some of the water in the glass to rinse your mouth, and the rest to rinse off your toothbrush. Voilà! Teeth brushed with just one glass of water.

·      If you use a dishwasher, follow these tips:

a.    Use the RINSE cycle when there are just a few dishes in the dishwasher (some machines call it "Rinse and Hold"). This will soften or remove most of the food waste on the dishes, so that they can sit for a few days until the dishwasher is full. Then, run the full clean cycle.


b.    If you like to rinse your dishes off in the sink before you put them in the dishwasher, don’t keep the water running while you do it. Instead, put the stopper in the drain, run a couple of inches of water, and use your sponge or dishcloth to wipe the dishes before they go in the dishwasher.

·      Apply the same idea to doing laundry. Don’t run the washing machine until you have a full load of wash.

Remember, 1 in every 3 people in the world does not have access to clean, safe water to meet their daily needs.  That is only going to get worse as our population grows.

Water is an essential resource to sustain life. As governments and community organizations make it a priority to deliver adequate supplies of quality water to people, we all can help by learning how to conserve and protect this precious resource in our daily lives.


Water Cycle Diagram courtesy  

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Conservation, Water   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 28, 2011



Here’s a question that I am often asked: If water is constantly being cleaned and recycled through the earth’s water cycle, why do we need to conserve it?

The answer is simple: We use up our planet’s fresh water faster than it can be replenished by nature.

And here’s the critical fact about water: About 75 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by water, but only 1 percent of this is available for people to use. The rest is salt water or is frozen in polar ice caps and glaciers. 

NOW, do you see why it is important to conserve water?

Water is an essential resource for life and good health. According to WHO (the World Health Organization), 1 in every 3 people in the world does not have access to clean, safe water that meets their daily needs.

I decided to write about this today because I was inspired by this magical and beautiful film, made by an artist in Brazil. 

We all need to be part of the effort to conserve water, use it sparingly and only as we need it. We must protect this precious resource, without which life is not possible.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Video, Conservation, Water   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 11, 2011


Scientists have discovered that baby crustaceans - lobsters, crabs, shrimps, and barnacles - can hear, and they listen to underwater noise to protect themselves from predators.

Even though these baby shellfish are only the size of the flea, they have a hearing system that lets them hear grunts, smacks and gurgles made by fish and other larger creatures that would otherwise eat them.

Coral Reefs are the big "cities" of the ocean - teeming with fish and other marine life. "The coral reef is like a ‘wall of mouths’ to these animals, so when they hear noise, they avoid it," says Dr Steve Simpson, a marine biologist at the University of Bristol. "Otherwise, they’d always be eaten by fish."

Why does the fact that a tiny shellfish is able to hear matter to us? Humans make a lot of noise in the ocean, from boat engines to activities like dynamite fishing and deepwater drilling. If our loud noises mask the crucial natural sounds near coral reefs, vulnerable larvae will be in danger of being consumed by larger predators. Why should this matter? Humans are part of the web of life on our planet Earth. Each kind of life is like a single strand in the web. By itself, no one strand may seem so important. But all the strands make up the web and the weekness of one strand weekens the entire web.



Posted by: Seymour Simon

(4) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Animals, Coral Reefs, Oceans, Conservation   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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