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The Climate Challenge: Our Choices Simulator
http://www.planetseed.com/node/15254

Schlumberger Excellence in Educational Development, Inc.

This Flash-based simulation explores the relationship between carbon emissions and atmospheric carbon dioxide using two main displays: (1) graphs that show the level of human-generated CO2 emissions, CO2 removals, and the level of CO2 in the atmosphere, and (2) a bathtub animation that shows the same information as the graphs. The bathtub simulation illustrates the challenges of reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Humans may be able to mitigate climate change or lessen its severity by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations through processes that move carbon out of the atmosphere or reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
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The amount of solar energy absorbed or radiated by Earth is modulated by the atmosphere and depends on its composition. Greenhouse gases—such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane—occur naturally in small amounts and absorb and release heat energy more efficiently than abundant atmospheric gases like nitrogen and oxygen. Small increases in carbon dioxide concentration have a large effect on the climate system.
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2c
Scientists have conducted extensive research on the fundamental characteristics of the climate system and their understanding will continue to improve. Current climate change projections are reliable enough to help humans evaluate potential decisions and actions in response to climate change.
About Teaching Principle 5
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Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
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7.3 Environmental quality.
The quality of life of individuals and societies is affected by energy choices.
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Energy affects quality of life .
Greenhouse gases affect energy flow through the Earth system.
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2.6 Greenhouse gases affect energy flow.
Physical processes on Earth are the result of energy flow through the Earth system.
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Physical processes on Earth are the result of energy flow .

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

In science, the testing, revising, and occasional discarding of theories, new and old, never ends. This ongoing process leads to a better understanding of how things work in the world but not to absolute truth.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark
Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide and water vapor, are transparent to much of the incoming sunlight but not to the infrared light from the warmed surface of the earth. When greenhouse gases increase, more thermal energy is trapped in the atmosphere, and the temperature of the earth increases the light energy radiated into space until it again equals the light energy absorbed from the sun.
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Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

About the Science

  • The data and models used for the data are provided in the resource.
  • Users watch the growth of human-generated CO2 emissions and CO2 removals from the atmosphere from 1950 to 2007 then select one of three choices: to allow increased carbon dioxide emissions, level off emissions, or to reduce emissions.
  • The simulation then plays out each scenario in the graphs and bathtub. The goal is to have total carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to stay below horizontal red line (and below the top of the bathtub) of 450 parts per million to avoid the most significant damage to the Earth's ecosystems and economies; the animation shows that the only way to achieve this is by reducing emissions.
  • The graphs and bathtub animation were calculated in a system dynamic model built by Dr. T. Fiddaman.
  • John Sterman and Booth Sweeney's paper provides an explanation of the dynamics behind the animated simulation: http://web.mit.edu/jsterman/www/Understanding_public.html
  • The top of the bathtub is 450 ppm of CO2; however it could have been set higher or lower.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The piece provides a visual demonstration of how fast CO2 emissions and removal from the atmosphere has taken place between 1950-2007 and how such trends change under different future scenarios. The background data provided on CO2 and Climate Change are well-described and easy to understand. Resource needs updating from 2007 to 2014 levels.

About the Pedagogy

  • The simulation was designed in collaboration with The Sustainability Institute and Society for Organizational learning.
  • An additional video is provided of Dr. Fiddaman explaining the model and the science - the pdf noted below is a better resource to view.
  • The site offers multiple language options to translate the information for ESL students

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Simulation and video are embedded in page and open in new window.
  • The instructions open in new window.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

Climate Interactive: http://climateinteractive.org/

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