APES: The Semester In Review

I wanted to follow up on one of the conversations we had earlier today in APES. If someone asks you what you did in school today, or for the semester, don’t tell them, “Nuthin.” Pick any (or all) of these things…

• Collected Particulate Air Pollution in downtown Birmingham and at home.
• Learned the basics of Climatology
• Compared microclimate variations in Birmingham and Summit County, Colorado.
• Remembered how water (humidity) moderates temperatures. Damn, that high specific heat and high heat of vaporization, it never goes away.
• Investigated the natural capital of Earth’s major biomes and looked at how natural capital influenced human culture within each biome.
• Applied simple ecosystem models to the Cahaba River and Little Cahaba Rivers.
• Caught six species of fishes in the Little Cahaba River.
• Caught over 20 families of aquatic macro invertebrates in the Little Cahaba River.
• Calculated the species diversity of leaf litter invertebrates. Remember, “The  Fall of the Kryptozoa.”
• Generated visual models of botched management strategies for major aquatic ecosystems.
• Investigated human demographics and economic realities of developed and developing countries.
• Uncovered the ugly truth about your family’s water consumption.
• Mined for coal and learned about profit margins and spot prices for non-renewable energy.
• Researched feasible , progressive regional energy policies for the US.
• Wrote policy to improve Birmingham’s Air Quality, decrease congestion on our highways and pave the way for sustainable economic development in the City Center.
(And you thought that first lab was just an excuse to get outside in August.)

I enjoyed having each of you in APES this year. I trust you learned something. Remember to apply what you learned to your daily behavior. Those little things do add up.
I know that some days in APES can be pretty depressing. Our resources are limited, the planet is crowded, and the environmental problems we face are tangled and thorny. Despite the reality of this moment, I believe that now is the most exciting time in human history to be alive. The opportunities for real progress, and the chance to change the world for the better, are palpably close.

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