Field Notes from Everybody: Citizen Science

 

Ordinary people can help combat climate change by collecting and reporting data as “citizen scientists.”

 

Right now, Earth is in the midst of a mass extinction. Around the globe plants and animals are disappearing at a rate and magnitude equal to the event that did in the dinosaurs. This is not just sad and unfortunate.

 

Earth is made livable for humans by the biological relationships and interactions among other species. The balancing effects they have on each other help create a stable environment for all. Loss of species upsets the balance. This is contributing to what scientists say is a “tipping point” on Earth, a time when a change or effect can’t be stopped. How do we approach this gigantic problem? What does it take to really save biodiversity and prevent the extinction of more plants and animals?

 

“Citizen Science” is one way each of us can help. Citizen science is a broad term describing the efforts of regular people to contribute data critical to science based conservation decisions. It begins with and returns to observations of nature—made by you.

 

As a citizen scientist, you can:

  • Contribute to thousands of projects underway all over the world, like the online, real-time check-list eBird.

  • Develop a long-term relationship with nature while monitoring seasonal changes with Nature’s Notebook.

  • Document biodiversity anywhere at any time using the iNaturalist app or online.

  • Document what bees are doing from your windowsill or backyard with The Great Sunflower Project.

 

It is important that:

  • New projects are set up using standard data collection protocols.

  • Data is funneled into scientifically-vetted databases.

 

Anyone with a cell phone can have fun contributing to the scientific knowledge needed to make conservation decisions.

 

Observe, Record and Upload

Join a community that creates and contributes useful data.

 

Mary Ellen Hannibal is an award-winning journalist and the author of Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in the Age of Extinction.

 

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