Earth Team inters worked diligently in the data collection for the TAP calculator which, in short, calculates the pounds of CO2 emitted per week by forms of transportation. Inters are focusing on collecting data in order to create, lead, and implement a plan that will reduce CO2 emissions by persuading and encouraging students to use alternative modes of transportation but first, pizza!
The interns collect data such as, miles traveled to and from school daily, and mode of transportation. They will then input data into the TAP calculator which consists of an excel spread sheet that will then give students the ability to create graphs in order to run community outreach campaigns. Earth Team pushes to not only inspire students to create change but to also make sure they are using the proper tools to back up their movement towards a cleaner environment. Creating change in the environment such as air quality also improves health for example, by reducing the asthma rates in high vulnerable communities.
If climate change is the result of humans adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, is there a way to take some of that stuff out of the air? Yes, there is! Trees absorb CO2 from the air and store the carbon in their biomass (wood). Trees are actually part of a carbon cycle: they absorb carbon during their lifetime and then release that carbon after they die and decompose. Still, trees may be an affective strategy for soaking up carbon in the short interim.
The Air Quality Interns at Richmond High School learned about trees ability to sequester carbon, and began a project to calculate the amount of carbon absorbed by certain trees.
The interns started with a list of trees planted by the Urban Forestry Internship. Using the data from those trees, the interns began using a tool developed by US Forest Service and Cal Fire to calculate tree carbon sequestration of these trees over the next 40 years. Stay tuned for the results!
Climate change is a difficult topic to comprehend for many reasons, but especially because there many interconnected parts that are not obviously related. How does the invisible emissions from my car contribute to drought conditions on the other side of the world? Another difficult part to understanding the problem, is that many of the consequences are not yet realized and difficult to imagine. What does an increase of temperature look like in my city in 10 year, 20 years, 50 years?
To address these issues, another Earth Team Internship, Skyline, helped create an educational board game that mimics environmental conditions in cities. Players roll a dice to determine the temperature, air quality, and precipitation in their imaginative city. Players also can add things like trees and bikes to their game board to help control heat and pollution from reaching unsafe levels. The object of the game is to increase your city population, which requires the players to keep their city safe from hazardous conditions.
The Air Quality Interns helped the board game entitled Save Our City, to test the rules and make suggestions. They also learned quite a lot about how the pieces of a city fit together to help or hurt urban residents.
On Thursday, January 5th, the Richmond Air Quality Interns spoke with Put A Price On It campaigner Tom Erb to learn more about creative solutions to climate change.
Erb, a college student traveling to raise awareness about the idea of a carbon tax, was recently featured in an episode of the National Geographic series Years of Living Dangerously. The episode, “Priceless” explores some of the tangible evidence of climate change like the decline of elephant populations in parts of Africa. Young people from around the country also share their efforts to promote the taxing of carbon emitters.
“A carbon tax is a tax that companies would pay because of the carbon [they] released into the air.” – Jaqeuline Miranda
The Air Quality Interns screened the episode with Tom, and then discussed his campaign efforts. And the good and bad of a carbon tax.
“I believe this is a good thing because then carbon dioxide will be reduced and maybe we can slow down global warming.” – Linda Marquez
The Interns also practiced some of the skills Tom has learned for speaking with public officials about promoting a cause.
“You can educate people about what a carbon tax is and why it’s important. You could talk to the government (local or federal) or make a petition.” – Valeria Rocha
Bike East Bay visited the Richmond High School Air Quality Internship on December 8th, 2016. Cynthia Armour, the Advocacy Manager at Bike East Bay, shared with the interns about ongoing and future bike infrastructure development projects in Richmond. She also spoke about different biking opportunities like Bike to Work/School Day in May.
Armed with a map of Richmond and markers, the interns mapped their current transportation route in a color indicating their mode of travel; for example, driving. Next the interns used google maps on a phone or ipad to determine a legitimate bike route, and they mapped this also on their paper map.
With Cynthia, the interns also discussed why people already bike to school and what prevents them from doing so. The interns will use this information to create surveys to distribute in their school to gather more data about student bike ridership.
On December 1st, 2016, the Air Quality Interns at Richmond High School measured the amount of carbon they emit by traveling to and from school each week. They started by gathering data on how they each travel – walking, driving, bus, ect. Next they determined the milage for the round trip they each travel. Other information was considered such as each car’s MPG and number of passengers in a carpool. Finally with all the input they used the Transportation Action Project (TAP) Calculator developed for Earth Team by MTC and BAAQMD consultants in 2010 to assess VMT-CO2 emissions.
The interns will next consider ways they can reduce their transportation carbon emissions and attempt to travel differently.
Did you know that trees clean the air?! Tree filter air by removing particulate matter that is harmful to your health. On Saturday November 5th, 2016, the Richmond High School Air Quality Interns planted 8 trees for a school in El Sobrante.
A graphic provided to Earth Team by Forestry Professor Dr. Joe McBride illustrates trees ability to remove pollutants from the air. Particulate matter, like pollen, ash, and dust, is small enough to penetrate deep into our lungs and cause health problems. Trees help filter these particles from the air.
The interns learned how to properly plant and stake the trees in a way that will give it the best chance of growing tall and healthy. They also learned to appreciate the amount of work it takes to plant a tree. The Interns worked hard to dig holes, move the heavy 15 gallon trees in their pots, and pound in stakes.
On Thursday evening, November 17th, the Richmond High School Air Quality Interns joined city planners, community advocate groups, and local residents to learn and share at the San Pablo Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan Workshop.
Increasing active transportation like walking and biking can be an effective strategy for reducing carbon emissions and particulate matter pollution in a city. At the workshop, the students learned about the upcoming EPA funded Greet Streets Project and shared their own experiences walking and biking in San Pablo. The interns scribbled notes on maps where they felt unsafe walking, where they suggested stop signs and lights are needed, and denoted other areas of concern. They also shared with San Pablo city staff about their own barriers to biking in the city.
The lessons from the workshop will be valuable in the weeks ahead, as the interns map bike routes to their school and attempt to inspire their classmates to use more active transportation.
This week, the Air Quality Interns at Richmond High School, taught each other about different ways people produce carbon dioxide, and other green house gases (GHGs). During the previous week, students worked in groups to research different activities and how much GHGs they produce. They learned that almost everything we do makes GHGs.
Some of things the students learned were surprising. One group of students taught the rest of the class that taking a 15 minute shower creates 6 lbs of CO2. Another group presented on air travel and calculated that around 93,000 lbs of carbon released is release from a plane trip to Mexico City. (That’s about the same amount as 15,300 showers!) Other groups presented on carbon produced by eating meat, charing your cell phone, lighting on light bulb, and driving a personal vehicle.
Next week the interns will examine their own daily routines to determine just how much carbon they individually create each year.