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How Global Warming Works

How Global Warming Works

This video succinctly explains the mechanism of the natural greenhouse effect and the cause of global climate change (anthropogenic global warming). It is short, basic, and to the point. It's also available in 12 languages!

Video length is 4:44 min. Other video lengths are available.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 1 Cross Cutting Concept
High School: 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 1 Cross Cutting Concept

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Greenhouse gas reduction and carbon dioxide sequestration to mitigate climate change
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Humans can take action
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Sunlight warms the planet
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Sun is primary energy
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Greenhouse effect
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Climate is complex
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The Greenhouse effect supports the water cycle and makes life possible
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Evidence is that human impacts are playing an increasing role in climate change
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Climate is variable
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Global warming is "very likely" caused by human greenhouse gas emission
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Increased GHG concentrations in atmosphere will remain high for centuries and affect future climate
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Humans affect climate
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Energy Literacy

Energy is a quantity that is transferred from system to system.
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1.1 Energy is a quantity.
Energy is a physical quantity that follows precise natural laws.
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Energy is a physical quantity.
Sunlight, gravitational potential, decay of radioactive isotopes, and rotation of the Earth are the major sources of energy driving physical processes on Earth.
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2.2 Sources of energy on Earth.
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 .

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

  • Multiple video lengths, all under 5 minutes, are available. Summaries (35 words and 400 words) explain "How Does Climate Change (Global Warming) Work?" Discussion questions are embedded in the video and offer an opportunity to stop the video for student input.

About the Science

  • This is a short video that explains greenhouse gases, the greenhouse effect, and anthropogenic climate change. It could be used for a quick introduction for someone who is uninitiated with the topic.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths:
    - Explains how humans have increased GHG emissions and that is the reason why the planet is warming
    - Explains the reason why certain compounds such as methane and carbon dioxide absorb radiation while others such as oxygen let radiation pass through
    - Note that this resource fails to recognize that some of the back radiation actually reached the surface of the earth and doesn't just keep bouncing around in the atmosphere
    - Note that this resource simplifies the concept of radiation in the atmosphere by focusing on visible light coming from the sun. It does not talk about shortwave vs. longwave radiation or the amount of infrared that comes from the sun.

About the Pedagogy

  • This video's plain language and stylized illustrations clearly explain the greenhouse effect. The video shows how human activities are increasing greenhouse gases and are causing the atmosphere to retain heat. This video explains these topics simply with effective visuals.
  • Visual format addresses different learning styles. Multiple languages are useful for English language learners.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • An embed code and sharing options are provided. Source information is listed at the end of the video not on the website.
  • Has transcripts and is translated into multiple languages.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

MS-ESS2.D1:Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns.

MS-ESS3.D1:Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 1

Stability and Change

MS-C7.3:Stability might be disturbed either by sudden events or gradual changes that accumulate over time.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 3

HS-ESS2.D1:The foundation for Earth’s global climate systems is the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, as well as its reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems, and this energy’s re-radiation into space.

HS-ESS2.D3:Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate.

HS-ESS3.D1:Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 1

Stability and Change

HS-C7.1:Much of science deals with constructing explanations of how things change and how they remain stable.

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