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A Homerun on Steroids, Baseball and Climate Change

National Center for Atmospheric Research , Climate Central

This short cartoon video uses a simple baseball analogy (steroid use increases probability of hitting home runs) to explain how small increases in greenhouse gases can cause global temperature changes and increase the probability of extreme weather events.

Video length: 2:04 min.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

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.
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mate is regulated by complex interactions among components of the Earth system
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Scientific observations indicate that global climate has changed in the past, is changing now, and will change in the future. The magnitude and direction of this change is not the same at all locations on Earth.
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Natural processes driving Earth’s long-term climate variability do not explain the rapid climate change observed in recent decades. The only explanation that is consistent with all available evidence is that human impacts are playing an increasing role in climate change. Future changes in climate may be rapid compared to historical changes.
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mate varies over space and time through both natural and man-made processes
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The overwhelming consensus of scientific studies on climate indicates that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the latter part of the 20th century is very likely due to human activities, primarily from increases in greenhouse gas concentrations resulting from the burning of fossil fuels.
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Emissions from the widespread burning of fossil fuels since the start of the Industrial Revolution have increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Because these gases can remain in the atmosphere for hundreds of years before being removed by natural processes, their warming influence is projected to persist into the next century.
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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.
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man activities are impacting the climate system
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Energy Literacy

Fossil and bio fuels are organic matter that contain energy captured from sunlight.
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4.3 Fossil and bio fuels contain energy captured from sunlight.
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Various sources of energy are used to power human activities .
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

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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The earth's climates have changed in the past, are currently changing, and are expected to change in the future, primarily due to changes in the amount of light reaching places on the earth and the composition of the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels in the last century has increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which has contributed to Earth's warming.
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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

  • Video would be perfect for a high school classroom examining weather vs climate, extreme weather events, and human causes of climate change. This should be integrated into activities that define greenhouse gases and distinguish between natural and man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

About the Science

  • Explaining the relationship between extreme weather events, such as a record heat wave, and global climate change is challenging. Although emissions of greenhouse gases are making heat waves more common and more severe overall, one cannot attribute a specific event to global warming. This video uses a simple baseball analogy to explain how greenhouse gases have a similar impact as steroids do on a baseball player by increasing the chances of hitting a home run, but don't guarantee that each home run was caused by steroid use.
  • Video also attempts to explain the role of greenhouse gases in increasing the probability of hot days versus cold days, and addresses the common misconception that a snowstorm is evidence that the climate is not changing.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Very nice metaphor. Easy to explain. Scientific concepts are measured, not exaggerated.

About the Pedagogy

  • Very engaging, student-friendly format.
  • Video could be very effective with younger audiences to make the connections between humans and impact on climate change.
  • Links to the data would be useful for additional activities.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Requires internet access - not currently available for download.

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

Related stories, articles and videos are supplied on this website: http://www.climatecentral.org/blogs/steroids-baseball-and-climate-change

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