Climate Connections: Questions from Washington, DC

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Detailed Description

America has questions about climate change, and the USGS has real answers. In this episode of Climate Connections, USGS scientists answer questions gathered from students at H.D. Woodson High School in Washington, DC. Questions include:

  • If you could tell the public one thing about climate change, what would it be?
  • Does climate change impact humans or animals more?
  • How will climate change affect DC?
  • When did climate change begin?


Episode Number: 180

Date Taken:

Length: 00:06:03

Location Taken: Washington, DC, US



Jessica Robertson: Welcome to USGS Climate

Connections in Washington, D.C.

I’m your host, Jessica Robertson.

We’re here at H.D.

Woodson High School to see what questions

the students have about climate change and

then get answers from USGS scientists.

Let’s go inside and meet the students.

Question 1.

Jamaal Jones: Hi, my name is Jamaal.

I’m a student at H.D.


If you could tell the public one thing about

climate change, what would it be?

Marcia McNutt: Wow, Jamaal, great question.

What everyone needs to know about climate

change is that it’s our children and our

grandchildren, many yet unborn, who are going

to pay the price for climate change.

And as a mother, just as I love my children,

I want to provide for them and keep them safe

from harm.

I am fighting climate change so that they

will inherit a planet that will sustain them

long after I’m gone.

Question 2.

Mickay Thompson: My name is Mickay Thompson

and I’m a tenth-grader at H.D.


Does global warming affect humans or animals


Marielle Peschiera: Hello Mickay, my name

is Marielle Peschiera and I am a biologist

at the USGS.

It is difficult to answer whether humans or

animals will be more impacted, but you raise

a good point in that we need to focus on both,

as both of them could be affected.

As an example, some parts of the world will

experience increased droughts.

This could affect water availability for drinking

or even for growing healthy crops.

It could also impact fish, ducks and other

water dependent organisms.

While some parts of the world will experience

higher droughts, others will experience higher


This precipitation will increase landslides

and flooding.

This could impact people, houses, and businesses.

More precipitation could also increase sediment

and nutrient runoff to rivers, streams, and

coasts, which will impact water quality and

organisms that live there.

Like these, there are many other examples

where you can see climate change will impact

both humans and animals.

I hope I answered your question.

Question 3.

Pashur Quarles: Hi, my name’s Pashur Quarles,

a ninth-grade student at H.D.


And my question is: How will climate change

affect D.C.?

Hilary Stockdon: Hi Pashur, I’m Hilary Stockdon,

an oceanographer at the USGS.

The impacts of climate change on Washington,

D.C. will be wide ranging.

One of the more obvious is rising water levels.

As the climate warms and ice sheets and glaciers

start to melt, sea levels will rise.

This means that the water levels in the Potomac

and Anacostia Rivers will also rise.

The National Mall is an example of a low-lying

area that could be inundated.

The Metro, roads, utilities, and other infrastructure

around the district could also be affected.

Now, D.C. is famous for its annual cherry

blossom festival.

We’re already starting to see the cherry

trees blooming earlier.

Warming temperatures affect the life cycle

of plants, and this in turn could change things

such as when allergy season begins.

Hotter days could also lead to more heat-related

illnesses, and that's something to look out


These are just a few examples of how Washington,

D.C. might be affected by climate change.

Question 4.

Precious Gray: Hi, my name is Precious Gray,

and I am a H.D.

Woodson student.

When did global climate change begin?

Christopher Bernhardt: That’s an interesting

and complex question, Precious.

I’m Chris Bernhardt, a research geologist

at the USGS.

When we look at the geological record, we

see that the Earth’s climate has been changing

for billions of years.

The Earth’s climate has moved between periods

of extreme warmth and extreme cold.

For example, over 700 million years ago during

a time called "snowball earth," much of the

Earth's surface was covered with ice.

An example of extreme warmth is during the

age of the dinosaurs.

These changes in climate are due to factors

such as how close the Earth is to the sun

and the amount of solar radiation it receives,

the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,

and other factors.

Regardless, climate variability and change

is part of the natural system.

However, it can be combined with and accelerated

by humans, which researchers have noticed

happening over the past 50 to 60 years.

It is important to understand the impacts

and causes of past climate variability to

further understand what may happen in the


Jessica Robertson: That’s it for this episode

of USGS Climate Connections in Washington,


A special thanks to all the students at H.D.

Woodson for participating.

Thanks for joining us, and we’ll see you

again next time.