Spilling the Tea on Climate Change

written by Sabirah Mahmud

We always hear about the global effects of Climate Change in the media but have you ever wondered about the actual effects that Climate Change can have on our past, present, and future? If so, on Tuesday, January 28th, 2019, the Penn Museum will be hosting an event explaining this all and how you can see these changes in your daily life.

Chantel White who is an Archaeobotanical Specialist at the Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials (aka CAAM) will be speaking at this event alongside Kate Moore, Practice Professor of Anthropology as well as the Undergraduate Chair at the Penn Museum. As Chantel White specializes in Archaeobotany, a sub-specialization within environmental archaeology which studies human interactions with plants in the past, she will be taking an exciting and different approach regarding this subject.

Chantel White will talk about how higher temperatures affect plants and their growth. Have you ever noticed how the plants in your garden grow differently depending on which season it is? Or have you ever noticed that we can’t grow the same plants that we would like to in our backyard compared to someone else in another country? Essentially, this is what Chantel will be speaking about. Additionally, providing you guys some cool sneak peeks, higher temperatures can affect a plants growth as well as their crop yield. Alongside her super cool talk, we will be exhibiting some of the foods that come from these plants that in the future (if there is no change due to climate change) will become extinct.

Further along into this event at the Penn Museum, White will be showing simulations on mapping out different temperature changes from specific dates. Another interesting medium to find this out is through investigating the trunks on trees. Through the help of a cross-section, if you look into the rings, there are visible rings that are a result of a season-depended change in the growth rate to the tree. You can also find out the climate conditions and the variations where the tree grows JUST by studying the rings of the trees. What is particularly exciting about out cross-section is we will be seeing one from a Bristlecone pine which is a very old and interested huge cross-section. Although I wouldn’t want to spoil much from this amazing event, if you attend, let’s just say you will be super excited just to see this simple cross-section of such an amazing tree.

Following Chantel White, Kate Moore, the Chair of Undergraduates at the Penn Museum, will talk about how the history of Pennsylvania, specifically, from ice age to the current era. Have you ever wondered how the simple block you lived on was a couple of hundreds of years ago? Well, the tea Kate is about to spill must just be for you! As Kate Moore specializes in Anthropology, she will not just be speaking on the environmental changes but the unapparent small adaptions our bodies have towards the changing climate. Fun fact, just through a single strand of your hair you can determine what you ate, where you have been, and so much more. This is another interesting thing that Kate will be talking about during the event. Additionally, through these two very cool topics of environmental as well as personal adaptations to climate change, she will explain just how we measure these changes.

Though you all may probably still lay a little interested, I have a few more amazing activities from the event to make you eager with anticipation for this upcoming event. Though this global climate change has been evolving since we were children, we will go through a quick simulation to see how much climate change has really changed since we were born. Has it always been the level it has been? If not, what did change and how did my body as I grew up actually adapt to this change? These are all things as well as more that we will discover through one of the many activities planned during this Teen Science Cafe at the Penn Museum.

If any of this interested you, this will be occurring January 29, 2019, at the Penn Museum from 5:00-6: 30 p.m. There will be refreshments provided and overall, a really great time. We hope you all see you in attendance and if not, we hope you all were interested in this blog post so you can attend the future Teen Science Cafes held at the Penn Museum.

Sabirah Mahmud is a sophomore at the Academy At Palumbo as well as a Teen Ambassador for Philly STAMP representing the Mutter Museum, and the Penn Museum. She enjoys doing Congressional Debate and Declamation Oratory at her school as well as playing the Oboe and Clarinet in her spare time.