Curious Climate schools
Curious Climate schools

South Hobart Primary 5A

Our Questions

Can we expect types of natural disasters in places that don’t usually have them?
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no answer provided yet
Have climates been changing differently all around the world?
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Answer provided by: Dr Rowan Trebilco
How has climate change affected animals and other living things in their environment around the world and in Tasmania?
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There are so many kinds of living things in the world, each one different from the next. An ant is entirely different from and octopus, a shark is different from a wallaby, you and I are different from a snail. But there is one very important thing we all have in common. We all have an environment in which we can best live and grow and we are always learning from it. This environment not only provides important things like the right amount of sunlight, the right amount of warmth and oxygen in the air, it also provides the right kind of food and right amount of water and, the necessary level of chemicals in the soil.

The environment is always changing, that is the way of the world, and all living things learn from their environment and change themselves to become better able to live in it. Some living things are more flexible than others, they can live in a lot of different temperatures for instance or eat different kinds of food. A lot of living things, though, are very specific. Corals for example are very picky when it comes to how warm or cool their waters are. Koala bears are the same – they only eat a few different kinds of eucalyptus leaves. This is why corals only grow in certain areas of the world, and koala bears only live in Australia. Given time, corals could perhaps learn to live in warmer or cooler temperatures, and Koala bears might learn to eat other leaves. Or they could even evolve into entirely different species that can do these things. If they do change (or adapt) or evolve will depend on a great many things, but if they had the time to and their environment demanded it, it is entirely possible. 

The problem with climate change, though, is that the changes are happening too fast, and most plants and animals don’t have enough time to learn and change to their environment. It’s like being told to run a 5k marathon without having had any training. You won’t make quite make it; but given time, and training you learn, your muscles get stronger, your stamina builds… your body changes into one that is able to run a marathon. Everything needs time.

In Tasmania, we have seen a lot of change in the oceans. As a result of Climate Change the ocean waters have become much warmer, and not only that they have less of the good things like nutrients that sea animals and plants need to live. To survive, many fish and other sea creatures (more than a 100 species!) in Tasmania have moved away from our seas looking for environments further south that are cooler and more like the environment they are used to. Other species though have not been so adaptable. Along the east coast of Tasmania there used to be a massive forest of giant kelp (seaweed). A lot of sea animals used to call this forest home, but because seaweed is less able to move away like fish can, the entire forest is now almost completely gone. It became too warm for the kelp to live and without the time they needed to change and become more used to the warmer waters, the forest has nearly died out in these parts. Without the protection and shelter that the kelp gave them, some animals that might have otherwise been able to continue living there, have also gone away, looking for another home, or have disappeared from this area entirely.

This is happening all throughout the world. The environment that living things are used to is changing very quickly, a few living things have found creative ways to deal with these changes. Storks for instance, used to migrate during winter to warmer places like Uganda, but they have learned to stay where they are when winters are warmer than normal and lay their eggs earlier so that their babies can grow up in the cool temperatures and wet weather they need to survive.

A lot of animals and plants haven’t been as successful at adapting to change as storks have. Where they can, many animals have moved to places that feel more like the environment they are used to, some birds and mammals have learned to change their behaviour like the storks, finding other places to feed themselves or different sorts of food. Many species though are struggling to keep up with the big, rapid changes happening to their homes and unless we can work together to stop these changes from continuing to happen, they might be lost forever. Even the animals that have found other ways for now, won’t be able to keep up if climate change continues.

There is so much that is being done around the world to help though. In Tasmania, for example, scientists are running experiments on the few remaining kelp on the east coast to find out what has helped them live when all the other plants in the forest had died; and to find out if some of these remaining plants can survive even warmer temperatures. By replanting these plants, a forest that is better able to survive a warmer environment could be regrown in years to come! Fish and sea creatures that can live in the new, warmer ocean waters of Tasmania can then come and find a home in a brand-new underwater forest.

Over the coming years, you might see a lot of this type of change around you – keep an eye out because it’s fascinating how living things will continue to find ways to survive in the face of great adversity and change. You might see trees and flowers, fish and birds that you haven’t seen before begin to grow and come down to Tasmania because the environment in Tasmania has become more suited to their needs. Some of what you are used to seeing now might start to disappear, birds might fly off, and fish swim away to a place that is better for them. Like the kelp though, unless we help, some of the living things in Tasmania and around the world might disappear. So, wherever and whenever we can, we must do all that is possible to help all living things keep their home or find another one. So, talk to your friends and family, keep an eye out on the nature around you, ask more questions and demand more answers! Sometimes that’s all you really need to do.

Answer provided by: Dimuthu Jayakody
Does putting rubbish in bins and recycling bins help?
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Yes indeed! Putting your waste in a rubbish bin or recycling bin is much better than littering it into the environment. Keeping rubbish out of the environment is very important as the rubbish can cause harm to wildlife and our economy if it is in the environment. To understand some of the harms rubbish can have on the environment take a look at my answer to another of this year’s question!

Even better than placing your rubbish in the bin, is to look at different ways you can reduce and reuse the products and packaging you purchase. Take a look at one of last year’s questions to learn how you can reduce single-use plastic in the supermarket.

Answer provided by: Dr Kathy Willis
How is Tasmania going with looking after the environment?
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Answer provided by: Malcolm Johnson
climateFuturesUnviersity of TasmaniaTas Gov Sponosored
We acknowledge the Palawa/Pakana people, the Traditional Custodians of lutrawita/Tasmania. We recognise and respect their collective wisdom and knowledge about country and change.
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