Cornell at COP24

CICSS and the Atkinson Center are again organizing the Cornell Delegation to the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference (COP24), which will be held in Katowice, Poland – December 3-14, 2018. A huge number of Faculty (14) and Students (86) applied to be part of the delegation, of which only 18 participants will likely receive a UN badge. Cornell’s delegation will feature an exhibit on Cornell research and engagement work, side events, and press conferences.

The COP is the annual meeting of all countries around the world that are parties to the UNFCCC and the Paris Accord – countries meet every year to negotiate their commitments, and university and NGOs participate as observers to share information – and press for global climate action (

Check back here to out what faculty and students are doing at this year’s conference, and follow our work at #CornellCOP24!

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Emergent Climate Risk Lab Balloon Launch

In this episode Danielle sits down with Dr. Toby Ault from Earth and Atmospheric Sciences to discuss the launch of a weather balloon to capture better data for weather forecasting and modeling. He discusses his excitement for the project and I was able to capture reactions during the launch. Enjoy the episode and look for the pictures on the lab’s Twitter account @ECRL_Cornell.

Listen here. 

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Breaking down Methane

In this episode, Julie, Jake, Marta and Danielle chat about greenhouse gas emissions, with a focus on methane. We discuss the impacts of methane and the need for greater reductions on not just carbon dioxide emissions but also methane. We also sit down with Professor Bob Howarth to discuss some of the activities here on campus, such as the use of natural gas as a gateway to cleaner forms of energy such as renewables. There has been a lot of discussion within the wider Ithaca community about the use of natural gas from fracked sources and the construction of new housing on North campus. We tap into that community discussion, while both Julie and Bob address some of the concerns raised by Cornell students and the wider Ithaca community.

Given the topic and the two forms of discussion this episode is slightly longer than some of our previous episodes, we do however, think the discussion is quite interesting and informative and therefore kept the longer format.  We did end up cutting out a riveting discussion on the use of natural deodorants as we waited for Bob to arrive. Hopefully we will incorporate that chat elsewhere in a bloopers episode! Keep listening and help us spread the word!



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Institutional Sustainability

Institutions like Cornell are extremely important players in the ongoing struggle to reduce energy consumption. With hundreds of fume hoods and other heavy lab equipment, scores of residential buildings, greenhouses, growth chambers, brightly lit buildings, heating in the long Ithaca winters and air conditioning in the hot summers (at least in some of the buildings), Cornell needs many times the energy of a single household to operate. Still, there’s a huge potential for institutions to lead the charge of energy sustainability, due to their unique position both as communities and authorities for their members.


Fellow Down to Earth host Emily Sullivan and I sat down with Michael Hoffmann this week to talk about how Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) is tackling this problem. Dr. Hoffmann is a professor in the CALS department of entomology, and he also serves as the Executive Director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions. He was involved in Cornell’s first college-wide energy reduction campaign in 2010-2011, CALS Green, and currently works with the Cornell University Agricultural Field Station to create a culture of sustainability. Join us for a conversation on the behavioral science behind sustainability initiatives, some of the amazing ways that Cornell faculty, staff and students are helping to reduce our energy footprint, and the importance of climate literacy.


Thanks for reading!


Marta Faulkner

And listen here!

NE Climate Change Tool

The Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions and its Climate Smart Farming Program have launched a new online decision tool for communities, farmers, policy makers to provide observed data on how the climate has changed in the Northeast United States since 1950, and how it is projected to change over the next century. Maps and charts provide temperature and precipitation data for every county in the Northeast.

The “Climate Change in Your County Tool” was developed at Cornell by Brian Belcher, Art DeGaetano, and the entire CICSS team, using long-term climate data from the Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC) and ACIS. The initial beta version of the tool and additional changes are forthcoming, including descriptive text and increased functionality. Current information about variables, datasets and methodology is accessible through the info button located in the lower-left corner of the tool.

CICSS welcomes user feedback for suggestions and improvements on the new tool!

Global CSA Workshop

Cornell University and GACSA will showcase cutting edge research and applied projects in a Global CSA Workshop being held September 27th at the Cornell Club in New York, during Climate Week NYC. The Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture (GACSA) aims to catalyze and help create transformational partnerships to encourage integrated actions to achieve the three pillars of CSA: sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes (food security); adapting and building resilience to climate change (adaptation); and reducing and/or removing GHG emissions, where possible (mitigation).

During the workshop, experts from Cornell, FAO, the World Bank, research institutes, North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance, USDA, companies and NGOs will provide updates on policies, projects, tools and practices that can help farmers around the globe achieve the goals of Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) as soon as possible. Specific topics will include enhancing the enabling environment for CSA (metrics and finance, business partnerships and NDCs), and CSA practices (including soil health, use of precision-agriculture, agroforestry and efficient irrigation).

The impacts of climate change are reducing the capacity of natural resources (soil, water and biodiversity) to sustain food demand of the world’s increasing population. Food security and climate change are therefore interlinked challenges that need to be addressed simultaneously. Agriculture sectors are those most directly impacted by climate change and also largely contribute to global greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture offers unique opportunities for synergies between climate change adaptation and mitigation actions. At the same time, it is at the heart of all efforts to achieve food security and foster rural development. Increasing resource efficiency in agriculture and building resilience to climate risks are the key actions for undertaking these challenges. This implies a significant transformation of agriculture and food systems, with concerted and coordinated involvement and action of all stakeholders on a long-term perspective.

Stay tuned for photos and stories from the event!

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Ecological Footprints

This week our amazing “Residential Adult,” Danielle, was in Switzerland for work (I am so jealous. I need a job like that where I get to travel the world while also getting to help solve climate change!!!), making Down to Earth’s (DTE) second episode entirely student planned and run. This was my first experience podcasting, which ended up being both more and less daunting than I thought. On the one hand, Jake and Julie were both great co-hosts, fun to joke around with, and easy to talk too, which I think really showed in the recording and made the situation a little less intimidating for me. Our conversation was natural and I enjoyed talking to them. It was also fun running around doing little things, like figuring out how to shove three chairs into the tiny study room that we were recording in, or trying to work the microphone itself. On the other hand, I have been listening to podcasts for a long time, and it isn’t easy attempting to be like the professional ones that I hear on a daily basis. It’s scary to know that everything I say will be out there in the world for everyone to hear and judge. Every mistake I make, every time I accidentally interrupt someone or trip over my words, and more specifically to this episode of DTE, every time I cough, is recorded. Hopefully this is a “practice makes perfect” type of scenario, and I will become a better co-host as time goes on!

Overall, my main goal of being a part of the this podcast team was to increase the amount of free, accessible resources available, regarding sustainability and global warming. The world has a lot of challenges and issues to address, and if I can help in those efforts by educating the public about the things that I spend my day learning about and facilitating important conversations, all while using a goofy and fun tone, then I will consider my time with DTE a success.

Thanks for reading and listening!

Pamela Wildstein

Here is the link to the Ecological Footprint Calculator 

New York city

Local Climate Action Summit

Local Climate Action Summit.

September 27-28, 2018

During Climate Week NYC 

at The Cornell Club, 6 East 44th Street, NY, NY 10017

Registration is now closed! We have reached capacity, thank you for your interest.


We are thrilled to be hosting a Local Climate Action Summit during Climate Week NYC, in partnership with the USDA Northeast Climate Hub and NY Sea Grant, which we would like to invite you to attend. The Summit will take place on Friday, September 28, 2018 from 8am – 5pm at The Cornell Club in New York City (6 E 44th St, New York, NY 10017).

The Summit will focus on the challenges local communities are facing in the Northeastern US with climate change, the leadership roles and actions they are taking to respond, and the importance of action at all levels to address challenges. The Summit will bring together local officials and experts to share ideas and gather input on what communities need to ramp up climate action on a local level. It will feature discussion with experts and NGOs working to support local climate action, updates from researchers on community impacts and needs, resources available to communities, and lessons learned from Cooperative Extension, NGOs, and municipal officials across the Northeast that are working to implement climate adaptation and mitigation projects. The discussions covered will share best practices on local climate action planning, addressing community needs and building partnerships between policy makers, researchers and Extension. We also hope to get your input on a new Cooperative Extension Volunteer Climate Stewards Program being developed to help communities in the Northeast.

Should you have any questions or would like to request an invitation, please feel free to contact me at The last date to register is Friday, September 21st – but space is limited. We look forward to meeting you, and hope you can join us for the Local Climate Action Summit on Friday, September 28th! The final agenda is below.

Climate Week logosThe Local Climate Action Summit, held in New York City during Climate Week NYC, focuses on the challenges local communities are facing in the Northeastern US with climate change, the leadership roles and actions they are taking to respond, and the importance of action at all levels to address challenges. The Summit will bring together local officials and experts to share ideas and gather input on what communities need to ramp up climate action on a local level. Community leaders will share input on how new and existing partnerships can best support the needs and actions for local communities. The focus is to better identify how we as a community of practice could support local climate action, address community impacts and needs, extend resources available to communities, and learn from the experiences of Cooperative Extension, NGOs, and municipal officials across the Northeast that are working to implement climate adaptation and mitigation projects. An overarching objective is to gain stakeholder input on a new Cooperative Extension Volunteer Climate Stewards Program being developed to help communities in the Northeast.


Key Questions Driving the Summit:

  • How is climate change affecting local communities and how are they responding?
  • What does local climate leadership look like?
  • What are the latest research findings on local energy and climate change action?
  • How can universities, NGO’s and local governments support local efforts to adapt to and mitigate climate change through effective partnerships?
  • How could a newly developed Extension Volunteer Climate Stewards Program best help local communities with climate change mitigation and adaptation projects?


Day 1 – Thursday Evening, September 27, 2018

6:30 – 8:30pm      Informal Networking for Participants:

Bierhaus NYC, 712 3rd Avenue, NY, NY 10017, Tel: 212-867-2337

Group Reservation held under Danielle Eiseman’s name


Day 2 – Friday, September 28th, 2018   8:00am – 5:00pm        

8:00 – 8:40am Registration and Continental Breakfast, Visit Information Tables
8:40 – 8:50am Welcome and Overview of the Summit: Allison Chatrchyan, Cornell University
8:50 – 9:20am Keynote speaker:  Connecting Local, Regional and Global work on climate change: Adam Parris, Executive Director, Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay
9:20 – 10:40am Panel Discussion 1: Planning and action at the local level
Moderated by: Dazzle Ekblad, NYS Climate Smart Communities Program

Julie Noble, Kingston, NY

Katie Walsh, CDP Cities North America

Ann Goodman, CUNY, ASRC Environmental Initiative

Brooks Winner, Climate Table, ME

10:40 – 11:00am Networking Break & Visit Tables with Climate Action Resources
11:00 – 12:20pm Panel Discussion 2: How communities are responding to climate change impacts
Moderated by: Erin Lane, USDA NE Climate Hub

Bruce Packer, Mayor of Glen Rock, NJ

David Kooris, Resilient Bridgeport, CT

Tara Paxton, Brick Township, NJ

Juli Schroeger, Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, NY

12:20 – 1:20pm Lunch and Keynote Address: Is your Community Prepared for Climate Change? Resources from ICLEI USA: Mike Steinhoff, ICLEI USA
1:20 – 1:35pm Introduction and overview of the New Extension Volunteer Climate Stewards Program

Danielle Eiseman, Cornell University, Overview of the Proposed Program

Allison Chatrchyan, Cornell University: research on community needs

1:35 – 2:15pm Stakeholder Input to the New Extension Volunteer Climate Stewards Program Katherine Bunting-Howarth, Moderator of Breakout Session – facilitators at each table to lead Discussion:

  • How can we Scale Up Climate Action at a Local Level?
  • What help do communities need to develop a CAP or take action?
  • How could trained Extension Climate Steward volunteers help their community or state with local climate change planning and projects?
2:15 – 2:45pm Tables Report Out and Discussion
2:45 – 3:00pm Networking Break & Visit Tables with Climate Action Resources
3:00 – 4:20pm Panel Discussion 3: Overcoming Barriers to Local Climate Action and Lessons Learned.
Moderated by: Shorna Allred, Cornell University

Jackie Guild, Annapolis, MD

Steve Walz, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

Terrance Carroll, Tompkins County CCE

Andrew Reinmann, CUNY Environmental Sciences Initiative

Marjorie Kaplan, Rutgers Climate Institute

4:20 – 4:45pm The Importance of Local Climate Action for Resiliency: Randi Johnson, USDA NIFA
4:45 – 5:00pm Wrap Up and Adjourn

Climate Week partners                                   



Upcoming Talanoa Dialogue

Come share your story of how extreme weather and climate change is affecting you or your community. Initiated by the Government of Fiji at COP23, the purpose of a Talanoa Dialogue is to share stories, build empathy, and make wise decisions for the collective good. The process of Talanoa involves the sharing of ideas, skills and experiences through storytelling.

The dialogue will take place on Wednesday, October 3rd, from 7:00-9:00pm, at the Borg-Warner Room in the Tompkins County Public Library. The address is 101 E. Green St, Ithaca, NY 14850. The event is Free and Open to the Public, and Refreshments will be provided – anyone with a Climate Change story to tell should attend!

During the process, Ithaca and Tompkins County community residents will share stories of how climate change has affected them. Our answers to Three Questions (Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?) will be collated and submitted to the United Nations ahead of the COP24 Conference in Poland. Communities across the globe are holding their own Talanoa Dialogues, and we want Ithaca and Tompkins County’s stories to be heard.

The goal of the evening is to humanize local climate change impacts, and increase the pressure on governments and NGOs to increase their commitment to climate change action. Organized by the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions, CCE Tompkins County, and the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative, and supported by the Cornell Global Climate Change Science and Policy Course and Engaged Cornell. Please contact Jake Brenner ( or Allison Chatrchyan ( if you have any questions.


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Down to Earth: Cornell Conversations about…Community Energy

Welcome to the first episode of Down to Earth: Cornell Conversations about…Community Energy. In this first episode we introduce the podcast project, our backgrounds and talk to Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County Energy Educator Terry Carroll. We discuss some of the ways communities are approaching renewable energy, the challenges in encouraging communities to move towards renewable energy and some of the tensions that can arise when trying to move away from fossil fuels.

We hope you find this podcast and those that follow both informative and entertaining. We hope to make issues related to climate change more approachable and encourage hope. Although the problem of climate change can feel insurmountable we hope the information we present will encourage you to take action, either in your own personal life or within your community.

Uncontrolled Climate Change

Uncontrolled Climate Change could result in disaster for our kids. Will we do something? Read the USA Today Article.

By Mike Hoffmann, Opinion Contributor, USA Today, Aug. 31, 2018

There is a one in 20 chance climate change could end in disaster by 2050. This is too great a risk. When will we start to protect our children?

Would you put your child or grandchild on a plane that has a one chance in 20 of a disastrous crash? It’s hard imagining anyone doing that, but it is essentially what we are doing to our kids and grandkids by not raising our voices about climate change and the 1-in-20 chance that disaster lies ahead for them. It is bad enough that we are likely on the path to exceed the 3.6 degree Fahrenheit goal stated in the Paris Agreement, which will result in dire consequences such as increasing droughts and wildfires and inundation of low lying coastal areas because of sea level rise.

If we continue on that path without taking the necessary actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there is a 5 percent chance of catastrophic consequences — even an existential threat to humanity by mid-century, according to experts at the Scripps Institute.

We can see the change is happening

We all take chances, but few would board a plane with a 5 percent chance of crashing. In reality, air travel is incredibly safe because we trust those who design, build and test aircraft and manage the flow of thousands of flights a day.

A lot of engineering and science has made aircraft and air travel safe. The same holds for the science behind climate change — a lot of smart and dedicated people who have their own children and grandchildren, working hard to understand what is happening now and what the future holds, and find solutions.

Think of one person who is much younger than you whom you care deeply about — a son, daughter, grandchild, sibling, niece, nephew — and whisper their name and put them on that plane and watch them take off on their journey. Then consider what their future holds given what is happening all around us — it’s getting warmer, large wild fires are more frequent in California, it’s getting too hot to fly planes out of Phoenix, there are more downpours hitting New York City and Boston, and Alaska is melting. And then consider what that younger person’s life journey looks like in a changing climate: It’s not going to get better. By attaching the name of someone you care about, it becomes personal and for many, strikes home.

We care about our kids and grandkids. In the USA, there are an estimated 49 million children under the age of 12, and more than 70 million who are under 18. They can’t vote, and few contribute to political causes or participate in political debates. They don’t have a lot of power, although they are gaining ground on their own in the courts. They are depending on us to ensure a safe and prosperous future, like that air traffic controller who is keeping your loved one safe, but let’s take a look at what lies ahead for them. Ask yourself, what course, what flight plan, are we setting for their future?

Our kids face the consequences of our choices

Let’s fast-forward to the year 2048, when today’s under-12 crowd will be in their early 30s and 40s. Most of them will be settled into careers, with young families, and relatively secure — or maybe not. It all depends on the path we choose to take now.

Path A: It was nearly miraculous given the overall political climate in 2018, along with the disbanding of an important federal climate-change advisory panel, but the 86-member bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus rapidly grew in number and influence — a bit of an awakening with a good dash of bravery. They took to heart the report created by experts from 13 federal agencies on the status of the climate. Climate change was seen as a great challenge but also seen as a way to bridge the political divide. Climate change was accepted as fact, and the challenge confronted through an integration of science and public policy.

So, in 2048 a new clean energy economy is booming, gross domestic product is up $290 billion, as is household income, energy bills down, and an estimated 2 million additional jobs have been created. The United States took advantage of the opportunity for economic development and transformed an inefficient system to one much smarter. By doing so, the nation led the world down a more stable path, with less geopolitical upheaval and more cooperation, and a more just society. Taking on this grand challenge was not easy, and the work will continue for decades to come, benefiting today’s 12 and under crowd and their children and grandchildren.

The other, avoidable path ends in disaster

Path B: If we continue on today’s path and do not address the climate change challenge, the world in 2048 will likely be unravelling, a disaster. And those 30- to 40-year-old’s have several more decades expected lifespan ahead. Their trajectory, their flight, their agenda has been set and will get worse. And they are asking why we didn’t do something about this when we were young, when in fact 70 percent believed that global warming was happening and were concerned about the impact on future generations. It was so obvious at the time that something was up with the climate.

And then there were the predictions of how it would get worse in the future, which is our present day in 2048 — a long, clear and dangerous list. What were the deniers, the doubters, thinking, especially those in leadership roles? Calling climate change a hoax (Donald Trump), denying the science (Rick Perry) or spreading myths (Lamar Smith), yet the rest of the world was recognizing the challenge by signing the Paris climate accord and agreeing to do something about it.

The science behind climate change was more solid than the science behind smoking being a cause of cancer — but it was rejected by people who should have known better.

So today, those who won’t accept the truth about climate change are messing with our children and grandchildren — their life journey. For the vast majority who do believe we face a grand challenge, raise your voice, get involved, and whisper that name again. It’s personal, very personal. What will they say about us in 2048? Did we try?

Mike Hoffmann is executive director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions, faculty fellow at Cornell University’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, and a professor in the Department of Entomology. See also his TEDx Talk, Climate Change: It’s time to raise our voices.

Climate Change Science Communication Action Online Course

Cornell Climate Change MOOC

Climate Change Science, Communication, and Action Online Course.

September 11-October 23, 2018

Register Now: Climate Change Science, Communication, and Action

Description:  Interested in working toward climate solutions? Want to learn more about how to talk to people about climate change? This course covers the basics of climate change, from science to action, and will assist you in developing a consistent climate message.

In this 6-week online course, you will start by getting to know each other and the basics of climate science and climate change impacts on our food and water supply, and human health (weeks 1-2). You will then learn about climate change communication and environmental psychology research and consider how this can inform your educational and environmental practices (weeks 3-4). Finally, you will learn about climate change and mitigation community solutions as well as examples of climate change communication in action (week 5-6). Each week will feature a discussion question and a quiz. For your final assignment, you will complete a project plan that details how you will apply course material to your practices. You will have two extra weeks after the course ends to submit your final assignment.

The Bugs Are Coming

and They’ll Want More of Our Food.

CICSS Dr. Mike Hoffmann quoted in recent New York Time’s article: Climate change is expected to make insect pests hungrier, which could encourage farmers to use more pesticides.

By Kendra Pierre-Louis, Aug. 30, 2018, The New York Times. © 2018 The New York Times Company.

Ever since humans learned to wrest food from soil, creatures like the corn earworm, the grain weevil and the bean fly have dined on our agricultural bounty. Worldwide, insect pests consume up to 20 percent of the plants that humans grow for food, and that amount will increase as global warming makes bugs hungrier, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science. That could encourage farmers to use more pesticides, which could cause further environmental harm, scientists said.

For every degree Celsius (two degrees Fahrenheit) that temperatures rise above the global historical average, the amount of wheat, corn, and rice lost to insects will increase by 10 to 25 percent, the study says. Temperate agricultural regions, like those in the United States and Western Europe, would be particularly hard hit.

The international Paris Agreement is designed to keep warming below two degrees Celsius, but the world’s countries are far off track from meeting that goal. By eating such a large amount of crops in the field, “insects have consumed something like one out of every eight loaves of bread before it even gets made,” said Curtis Deutsch, a professor of chemical oceanography at the University of Washington and an author of the study. “If we warmed four degrees, which is what climate models typically predict for the end of this century, then that amounts to insects eating two of our eight loaves of bread instead of one.”

Higher temperatures speed many insects’ metabolisms, making them eat more. Their life cycles also get faster, causing them to reproduce more quickly. Both effects would diminish crop yields even as the human population continues to increase, putting additional strains on the global food supply, the study says. To arrive at their estimates, Dr. Deutsch and his colleagues used statistical models to simulate the effects of global warming on insect feeding and reproduction. They focused on wheat, corn and rice crops because they account for 42 percent of the calories directly consumed by humans.

Other factors could help mitigate crop losses. Beneficial insects could also thrive in a warmer climate, said Michael Hoffmann, a professor of entomology and executive director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions, who was not involved in the study. Those insects could end up “offering some suppression of the pests, so that the damage may not be as great as they are suggesting,” Dr. Hoffmann said.

Still, higher temperatures can spell bad news for thirsty crops regardless of insect activity. A study last year in the journal Nature Communications found that the pressures from increased summer temperatures could lead to a significant decline in agricultural yields. This summer’s European heat wave, which is in keeping with patterns of climate change, reduced Germany’s grain production by roughly 20 percent.

That study found that improved irrigation could offset at least some of the losses. But it is less clear if insecticides could help stave off multiplying pests. “The one out of eight loaves of bread that we currently lose already reflects what we can do to manage crop losses to insects,” said Dr. Deutsch. Pesticides could help where they’re not already in use, but in other regions, “there’s a real question as to whether or not they’re already at their maximum effectiveness,” he said. In addition, pesticides can unintentionally harm other organisms, and some have been linked to human health problems. Their manufacture, transport and use also contribute to global warming.

Dr. Deutsch said the real solution was to drastically reduce the level of greenhouse gases that humans emit. “If you want to solve a big problem with a million tendrils, you have to go to the root of it,” he said. “Otherwise, you’re manufacturing a million Band-Aids. I don’t think that’s feasible. It’s also much harder.”

Kendra Pierre-Louis is a reporter on the climate team.
Before joining The Times in 2017, she covered science and the environment for Popular Science. @kendrawrites

Teacher Friendly Guide to Climate Change

The Teacher-Friendly Guide™ to Climate Change is the newest addition to the Teacher-Friendly series from the Museum of the Earth. This book includes both the basics of climate change science and perspectives on teaching a subject that has become socially and politically polarized. The focus audience is high school Earth science and environmental science teachers, and it is written with an eye toward the kind of information and graphics that a secondary school teacher might need in the classroom. Print copies are available for purchase here and a PDF version is available above as a free download.