Will we be celebrating Mars Day in the near future?

By Frederikke Ulnits

On the 22nd of April Earth Day was celebrated for the 46th time. But what if I told you that soon we will be celebrating Mars Day. That might sound crazy and impossible to you. But reading this article will probably change your mind.

Pundits are claiming that humans will be able to land on Mars in 2050 and NASA believes that it will happen in 2040 but Elon Musk says that it will be a possibility in 2025. But why believe a single man when most pundits claim that it will first happen many years later?

Elon Musk is the creator of SpaceX and Tesla Motors. SpaceX sent their first rocket to the International Space Station only 9 years after its establishment and reaching Mars has been the goal from the start in 2002.

In 2005 most people in the automobile industry claimed that it would not be possible that we would have a decent electric car for 50 years, but in 2010 Tesla Motors launched its first public electric car. So believing that the man who has defied pundits in the automobile industry and the man, who created an entire rocket company in less than 10 years, will be able to get humans to Mars by 2025, suddenly sounds believable.

But one thing is getting there another thing is to live on the planet. For humans to live on Mars there are 5 things you absolutely need to have. You need water, food, shelter, clothes and oxygen, since 96% of Mars’ atmosphere is carbon dioxide. Let’s take water at first. Mars might look like a desert from the outside, but the soil on Mars is up to 60% frozen water. So if we can melt the ice on Mars’s two poles, most of the planet will be covered by 30 feet of water. There are other methods too use such as a low-tech dehumidifier, like the one made by The University of Washington in 1998, cause Mars atmosphere is up to 100% humid.

The next thing is oxygen. Actually NASA has already worked that out. A scientist at MIT has developed a reverse fuel cell called the Moxie. The machine sucks in the Martian atmosphere and pumps out oxygen. This machine will be able to keep one person alive on Mars, and in 2020 NASA will be sending a big rover with this machine abroad to Mars.

The food problem can easily be solved in the beginning. Hydroponics will be used to grow food but we can only get 20% of our food from that method until water is available. In the meantime, dried food will have to be sent from Earth.

As shelter, inflatable pressurized buildings can be used in the beginning but only in daytime because of too much radiation. For a more sustainable solution NASA again has the answer. They have found out that the soil on Mars is perfect for making bricks, and if a little polymer plastic were added, it would be possible to build buildings with really thick walls. Or perhaps we will live in underground caves or lava tubes, of which there are many.

On Earth the atmosphere creates 15 pounds of pressure on our bodies. On Mars there is basically no pressure. Another scientist at MIT has therefor created a sleek space suit. The suit keeps us together, block radiation and keeps us warm.

So it is possible to live on Mars and we do have the technology to do it. But if we want to live a good life on Mars we need to be terraforming the planet. To do that, we need to warm up the planet. If a solar sail is erected above the South Pole on Mars, it will in less than 20 years heat up the planet to something like the temperature on Earth. By using the solar sail more carbon dioxide will go out into the atmosphere and thicken it. That will give more protection from radiation and make enough pressure to survive without the space suit. Besides from that, ice will melt so there will be running water, then crops will be able to grow and Mars will almost feel like British Columbia.

There might go 1000 years before the breathing problem for real will be solved, but as the smart and adaptable humans we are, technology will help us reach far and beyond today’s limits. Today it is possible to control genetic, perhaps we will be able to control our own evolution in the future. So maybe someday in the near future we will be celebrating Mars Day – but lets keep cheering for Earth, so Mars Day will become irrelevant.

Interview with one of this year’s young guides: William Christensen

William is 16 years old and is for the very first time attending a conference for caretakers of the environment. We are very happy with his choice and wanted to know how he first heard about CEI: “ I first heard of Caretakers of the environment at a local event called “Youth Day”. It is a day held by Aalborg Youth School and a day were you have the opportunity to hear about a large range of afterschool activities our community has to offer. It was that day I heard about The Caretakers. Elizabeth Brun told us about the great work that is done around the globe and how we had a chance to participate in that development. When she was done, I immediately asked where I could sign up! And here we are four months later and I have doubt that it was the right decision to make.

As you can hear the spirit is high in the Danish delegation, even though there is a lot of planning and many long hours to make the conference happen and different projects succeed. Everyone is pretty excited and therefore we asked William what he is looking most forward to: “ What I look most forward to is to meet all the delegates from all over the world, to discover their cultures and our differentness and similarities. I am sure we all have so much to learn from each other and by sharing our ideas we can come up with new methods in our local communities to make a sustainable difference. It is quite amazing that it’s even possible to gather so many young people from all over the world with the same goal: To share ideas and take actions towards a more sustainable world. It really shows there is hope in the future and with a change of generation, we might also change the world we all live in.

Different cultures coming together to solve one common issue is definitely a step in the right direction and every person matters, so we asked William how he could contribute: “To the conference I hope to bring joy to all the other delegates. I am a very happy and open person and I hope that feeling will be spread to others. That is also one of the reason I signed up to become a Young Guide and also to share my knowledge of how Aalborg is one of the most sustainable cities in Denmark.”

Coral Bleaching by Diana Fayed

Nowhere on earth is the effects of climate change more visible to the naked eye, than in the Great Barrier Reef. The colourful coral reefs are highly vulnerable to climate change and the impact of significant changes in temperature, such as heated oceans, can bleach – and eventually, kill the corals.

The coral reefs structure is mainly build from calcium carbonate (limestone) skeletons laid down by hard corals. Changes over a long amount of time can eventually affect these corals in a negative way.

When the temperatures rise too much over a long period of time, the phenomena called coral bleaching takes place. It happens at the same time every year, but when the temperature remains high, which happens during El Niño (El Niño is the phase of the complex weather patterns resulting in an unusual rising in ocean temperatures over the Pacific). The El Niño that started in 2014 has continued to impact the Great Barrier Reef and has since become the longest bleaching event recorded, with approximately 93% of the Great Barrier Reef affected. The bleaching does not seem to be ending any time soon according to Mark Eakin, a coral reef ecologist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in College Park, Maryland;” Even though the El Niño is now weakening, its lingering effects could cause bleaching for another year.” With global warming raising ocean temperatures, even weak El Niño’s will be enough to change the coral reefs.

A constant pressure on the coral reefs would harm the ability of the corals to recover, which then would lead to the reefs dying.

The bleaching happens when the symbiotic algae called zoocanthellae (which uses photosynthesis to produce nutrients for themselves and their hosts) is extracted due to hot temperatures.

When the coral reefs die, it affects the many marine organisms and fish that depend on the reefs for shelter and food, leading to a loss of biodiversity.

The main issue that leads to coral bleaching is global warming. The only way to stop this is to rapidly prevent the global temperature in rising even higher. Actions towards global warming are a must.

Interview with former delegate and on of this year’s Young guides: Marie Fredensborg Akobe

Marie is 17 years old and is also joining the team of Young Guides for this year’s conference. We asked Marie how she heard of CEI: “I heard about CEI from a friend of mine. We share the shame interest for the environment, and she told me this was a good way to make a difference and learn even more on how I could make a difference. So at that point I knew I had to join.”

Many young people wants to make a difference and can see that actions are needed, but are simply just lacking the knowledge of how to make easy changes around them. By sharing that knowledge and spread the word like Marie’s friend young people have a chance to act towards changes. We also wanted to know what Marie looked the most forward to: “I look most forward to see what has been done in other communities and see if I perhaps can adapt some of their methods or knowledge to my everyday.”

Marie also feels that she can contribute with some good qualities at the conference: “I am certain that the delegates from around the world can use some of the initiatives I will show them during their stay in Denmark. Since I am a Young Guide I will show them many ideas that a brought to life in our community and hopefully they can be adapted to other cultures and communities as well.

Interview with Wayne Schimpff part 2 by Emma Laursen

This week we will continue our interview with Wayne Schimpff. The idea was to travel back in time to understand the origin of CEI, which we mainly did in our last volume of Every Second Sunday News. This week we have asked Mr. Schimpff about the development of CEI up until now, and about his memories of the previous three decades of CEI experiences.

We asked Mr. Schimpff what makes CEI so special and how CEI has develop through the years: “The unique fact about CEI as it is the only global organization for high school students and teachers dealing with the environment that is operated and maintained with a $0 staff budget for its entire history. There is a related organization, www.Iearn.orgInternational Education and Resource Network that is 2 years younger than we are. They serve K – !2 students. They also host an international conference which is usually at the same time as ours. That’s why I have never attended one. They have a paid staff person in each country to promote local activities. They have an annual budget of between $13 and $15 Million a year. It all comes from the US Office of Education and the US AID program. Its world headquarters is at the Museum of Natural History in new York City. The USA affiliate is www.Youthcan.org. I have attended some of the Youthcan activities. Because we operate from a position of caring enough to make a difference we have developed an activity that involves challenging teens to explore with partners and tell others about their discoveries and what they have learned. The activity CEI uses is well founded in education practice and is called Service Learning and the Boy Scouts of America call it the Eagle Service Project. I pioneered science based service learning for the Chicago Public Schools and represented them at several national conventions on the topic. I also empowered 33 Scouts to do the service project and earn the Rank of Eagle Scout. I am an Eagle Scout since 1957. What has evolved and is now a strength of CEI is the transfer of leading conference activities from adults to CEI Alumni. The Alumni have been empowered to find ways to engage the participants in fun exploration activities. We have been successful to find educational leaders that have the resources and the educational experience to recognize the importance of this type of global learning experience. Also we have always have had fun experiences while sharing and growing together with out international friends.

Furthermore we asked Mr. Schimpff about his own personal experiences with CEI if there is anything he look back at which makes him particularly happy or proud: “I am most happy that Gail and I have been give the gifts of time, health, and $$, resources to self fund our CEI experiences. Many of my students that went with us to earlier conferences have stayed in touch and I have been lucky enough to share in their various life successes. My most memorable moment is having a student, Calvin Young, that went with me as a student to the 2nd and 3rd conferences and then as one of the first 2 former student participants to attend the 7th conference as Alumni. The other student was our son, Scott. For the 25th conference Calvin returned to that conference with his son. As far as I know it was the first time a CEI participant has participated as a student then as a mentor with his son and other Chicago Alumni students. I personally look forward to sharing memorable views and conversations with my global teacher and student friends over a cup of tea overlooking a nice view of nature.”

Lastly, we asked Mr. Schimpff if he had any words of encouragement to current CEI students, he said: “Make sure you have as much fun connecting with new partners in doing your project as you can. Your community partners like and appreciate you in asking them to help with sharing their knowledge and in sharing their resources with you. Don’t forget to make you project presentation for them before attending the conference. Then after the conference, ask to make a report to them on how your project presentation went and to share what you learned and experienced at the conference. Also don’t forget to describe and tell stories about all the neat people that are now your global friends. Your home partners will be jealous of your CEI experiences. Don’t forget to thank the people that empowered you to be able to participate in the CEI conference as it is a very rewarding experience – your parents, your teachers, and their bosses.”

We want to thank Mr. Schimpff for enlightening us on the history of CEI.