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Global Warming: Carbon Dioxide and the Greenhouse Effect

FRONTLINE/NOVA, WGBH Educational Foundation, Teachers' Domain

This video segment demonstrates carbon dioxide's role in the greenhouse effect and explains how increasing concentrations of C02 in the atmosphere may be contributing to global warming. Video includes an unusual demonstration of C02's heat-absorbing properties, using infrared film, a researcher's face, and a stream of C02 between them.

Video length: 2:26 minutes.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 5 Disciplinary Core Ideas
High School: 7 Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

  • This short video should be used to clarify the role of carbon dioxide in absorbing infrared energy re-radiated from Earth's surface. It will enhance student understanding of the greenhouse effect. The teacher will need to prepare to lead discussion following the video, using the essay and links provided.

About the Science

  • Video includes a simple and effective demonstration of how carbon dioxide absorbs infrared radiation -- an idea often presented poorly in the usual discussions of the greenhouse gas effect.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths:
    Great, unique experiment to show how greenhouse gases work.
    - background essay is a great summary of how photosynthesis works, how humans are adding extra carbon into the atmosphere, and how greenhouse gas molecules trap the heat.

About the Pedagogy

  • This resource includes a background essay, simple discussion questions, and links to national and state standards.
  • The background essay discusses the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide and the idea that some of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities is unaccounted for. Later work http://www.nature.com/climate/2007/0708/full/climate.2007.35.html argued that this missing carbon sink is in the greater-than-expected role of tropical forests.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The online version of the video is not of sufficient resolution for projection. The downloadable version will work better.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

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