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What's Really Warming the World?

Bloomberg Businessweek

This is a series of graphical animations that compare the contribution of natural factors (including orbital changes, variability in the sun's temperature, volcanic action, deforestation, ozone pollution levels, and aerosols) to the contribution of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, to increases in global atmospheric temperature... in a visual and concise way.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

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

  • It may be useful, depending on the grade level of students, for instructor to pause at each graph and check that students understand what is being illustrated.

About the Science

  • Visualization is a series of animated graphs, that, individually and combined, illustrate how fluctuations in earth's orbit, solar temperature variability, and volcanic eruptions over the period 1880-2005 do not account for the rise in average atmospheric temperature during the same period. Graphs of changes in land use (primarily deforestation) and ozone and aerosol pollution (all human-caused) are included, presenting minimal impact. Only changes in GHG emissions track the increase in average global atmospheric temperature.
  • NASA GISS computer ModelE2 provides the data behind the visualization.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths:
    Excellent resource when presenting to general audiences or climate skeptics
    - Excellent breakdown of all potential natural and anthropogenic factors to global warming. Brief explanation of what there overall effects are on the planet.

About the Pedagogy

  • Short text passage accompanies each graph and summarizes the net effect of factors.
  • Each step in the animation is explained concisely so students know what the factors are while the graph is being produced.
  • A great summary of the natural causes of climate change and how their effect on global temperature changes compares to that of CO2 emission.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Scrolling is occasionally wonky - may need to reload if it happens. Otherwise, simple and straightforward design.
Entered the Collection: June 2018 Last Reviewed: April 2017

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