Climate Literacy Quiz

How's your climate literacy? The explanations beneath each question describes each concept in plain language and links to teaching materials and references. Test your knowledge, and learn as you go.


Thank you to Dr. Aleya Kaushik for providing the scientific review for the quiz.


1. What is the greenhouse effect?
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2. If the greenhouse effect is natural, then why is today's climate change a bad thing?

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3. Which activities are the largest contributors of greenhouse gases?

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4. How much has CO2 in the atmosphere increased since the Industrial Revolution?
 In the 10,000 years before the Industrial Revolution in 1751, carbon dioxide levels rose less than 1 percent. Since then, they've risen by:

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5. How has the global average temperature changed since the Industrial Revolution?

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6. How does the rate of today's warming compare to previous episodes of rapid climate change on Earth?

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7. We know that variations in Earth's orbit, solar output, and other factors cause changes in the climate. If we removed the human impacts of greenhouse gas emissions, what might the climate be doing today, on its own?

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8. When was the last time in Earth's history that CO2 was as high as it is now?

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9. Modern instruments have only been around for a little over 100 years. So how do we know what greenhouse gas concentrations (and temperature) were in Earth's past? (select all that apply)

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10. What proportion of climate scientists has concluded that humans are the primary driver of today's climate warming?

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11. The most common misunderstanding about climate change is that the Earth's climate has changed naturally in the past, therefore humans are not the cause of global warming. That is not correct. What are some analogies or rebuttals that help debunk this myth?

12. Which country has emitted the most CO2 over time? In other words, which nation has the most responsibility for the greenhouse gases that are currently residing in the atmosphere?

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13. How long does CO2 remain in the atmosphere?

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14. If we stopped burning fossil fuels today, what would happen to the climate?

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15a. This is a graph of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere, measured since 1958. There are two patterns in this data, what are they?

15b. Based on the graph in question 15, What causes the annual up-and-down fluctuation in CO2 in the atmosphere?

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15c. What is the primary cause of the overall rising trend in CO2 in the atmosphere?

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16. What are the major causes of sea level rise? (there is more than one correct answer)

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17. What causes ocean acidification?

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18. What is the leading cause of coral bleaching?

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19. Many of us are already familiar with solutions to climate change. While there are many actions we can take every day, it's important to focus on the solutions with the biggest result. The list below contains 7 actions to reduce emissions. But which will save the most? Rank them in order of how much greenhouse gases can be avoided.

  • Household and industrial recycling
  • Plant-based diet
  • Family planning and educating girls
  • Wind energy
  • Solar energy
  • Wasting less food
  • Restoring tropical forests

20. How fast to we need to stop burning fossil fuels to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees C? (3.6 degrees F)

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Learn more about Teaching Climate »

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