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Changing Planet: Black Carbon
http://www.nbclearn.com/changingplanet/cuecard/52513

NBC Learn, Windows to the Universe

This video addresses two ways in which black carbon contributes to global warming - when in the atmosphere, it absorbs sunlight and generates heat, warming the air; when deposited on snow and ice, it changes the albedo of the surface. The video is effective in communicating about a problem frequently underrepresented in discussions of climate change and also public health.

Video length: 6:07 min.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Actions taken by individuals, communities, states, and countries all influence climate. Practices and policies followed in homes, schools, businesses, and governments can affect climate. Climate-related decisions made by one generation can provide opportunities as well as limit the range of possibilities open to the next generation. Steps toward reducing the impact of climate change may influence the present generation by providing other benefits such as improved public health infrastructure and sustainable built environments.
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
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Airborne particulates, called "aerosols," have a complex effect on Earth’s energy balance: they can cause both cooling, by reflecting incoming sunlight back out to space, and warming, by absorbing and releasing heat energy in the atmosphere. Small solid and liquid particles can be lofted into the atmosphere through a variety of natural and man-made processes, including volcanic eruptions, sea spray, forest fires, and emissions generated through human activities.
About Teaching Principle 2
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Human activities have affected the land, oceans, and atmosphere, and these changes have altered global climate patterns. Burning fossil fuels, releasing chemicals into the atmosphere, reducing the amount of forest cover, and rapid expansion of farming, development, and industrial activities are releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and changing the balance of the climate system.
About Teaching Principle 6
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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 .
Earth's weather and climate is mostly driven by energy from the Sun.
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2.3 Earth's climate driven by the Sun.
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

Decisions to slow the depletion of energy resources can be made at many levels, from personal to national, and they always involve trade-offs involving economic costs and social values.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

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

  • Having students study the health consequences of breathing black carbon from stoves or other sources could be a worthwhile add-on to a discussion of the production and impact of black carbon.
  • Researching impacts of black carbon and whether or not these impacts are occurring in the students' region of the country could also be worthwhile. For example, monitoring towers are in place for gathering data on changes in snow albedo in Grand Mesa in Colorado.

About the Science

  • The resource reviews emissions of black carbon and its contribution to climate change and public health concerns through the work of Dr. "Ram" V. Ramanathan of Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
  • From his unmanned vehicles to measure black carbon in the atmosphere to the consequence of black carbon on snow (decreasing the albedo effect of snow-covered mountains and contributing to early snowmelt), the video covers black carbon's various causes and consequences.
  • The video describes efforts to reduce both environmental and health impacts of black carbon by developing and distributing cook stoves that do not burn coal to communities in rural India.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The video describes the well-known health and climate impacts of black carbon in an accurate but general manner. I feel this video acted more as an outreach tool rather than being a simple, but yet scientific piece demonstrating the effects.

About the Pedagogy

  • This video covers an important piece of the climate change issue that is not often presented. It is important to provide appropriate context for this material.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Excellent visuals accompany narration.

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