5.2 The Greenhouse Effect

Here is the Earth – from the International Space Station. Go full screen and HD. This is what we need to look after and you can clearly see the light reflecting and refracting through the atmosphere.

(Includes some slides from G3 Human Impacts, related to Ozone Layer)

Essential Biology 5.2 The Greenhouse Effect ——   Click4Biology:The Greenhouse Effect

How we know global warming is real,” from Skeptic.com


The Carbon Cycle:

Global carbon cycle tutorial from FreemanLifewire

Narrated tutorial from Sumanas

Good simple interactive pathways of carbon from KScience, and another from windows2universe


The Natural Greenhouse Effect:

Animated tutorial from Damocles.

Simple tutorial from UCSD and another from the BBC


Climate change and the enhanced greenhouse effect:

Try this PhET Lab simulation: The Greenhouse Effect (allow Java to run)

The NASA Climate Change Resource Reel has loads of video and animation clips which download as .mpg files when you click on them.

Good Climate Change teaching resources from Cutting Edge

The Ultimate Climate Change FAQ from the Guardian

Warming over the last 130 years, by NASA


The Effect of Global Warming on Arctic Ecosystems

Redrawing the Arctic

Perhaps more than anywhere else on the planet, the effects of rising temperatures are obvious and observable in the Arctic. From sea-ice decline to shifting niches and threats to biodiversity, the future looks bleak at the north pole.

A neat article with a very good infographic, from Nature: Redrawing the Arctic Map.

The most up-t0-date and reliable data-based information can be found on the annual NOAA Arctic Report Card. This quick video from NASA gives an overview:

Threats to the Arctic, from the WWF, and a nice summary of the effects of global warming on the Arctic, from CIEL. the Guardian also has an article on the disappearing world of the last of the arctic hunters.


Measuring Current CO2 levels

Current atmospheric CO2 is measured by hundreds of field stations around the globe, inputting data into the NOAA databases.

Use these CO2 data to plot trends and annual cycles with a spreadsheet.

Check out CO2Now to see graphics of the most recent data and trends.

This video clip from NOAA has seasonal sources and sinks of CO2:

Measuring Historical CO2 levels

In this TED Global 2010 talk, Lee Hotz describes the work of researchers in the Antarctic, studying the history of our planet’s climate, through drilling ice-cores that go back in thousands of years.

“Each cylinder is a parfait of time”

Why did the researchers choose this location? What are their aims? How do they collect data?

This resource from Allianz(?) outlines how ice-core data is collected and analysed

The NOAA Satellite and Information Service has databases for all the different methods used to gather historical CO2 data. You could also use the Vostok data.


300 Years of Fossil Fuels in 300 Seconds, from the Post Carbon Institute

Where are we now? In a time of need for resilience and inventive solutions. Click here for excerpts from their post-carbon reader.


This funny (but sweary) John Oliver sketch skewers the non-debate on climate change.

“The debate on climate change should not be whether or not it exists, but what we should do about it.” 

With 97% agreement from scientists on the human cause of climate change, are the media skewing the debate with 1:1 representation?

What if it’s all a big hoax and we make a better world for nothing? Joel Pett cartoon. Click to see more.


Ocean acidification – the other CO2 problem:

Here’s another TED Talk from Rob Dunbar, on the Mission Blue Voyage, about the dangers of ocean acidification and how we are discovering ancient climates in the oceans and ice:

Find out more about measuring ocean CO2 data from the CDIAC. The National Resources Defense Council outlines the harmful effects of ocean acidification.

Topic link: how does ocean acidification link to the chemistry of life unit?


The Precautionary Principle

The theory that an action should be taken when a problem or threat occurs, not after harm has been inflicted; an approach to decision- making in risk management which justifies preventive measures or policies despite scientific uncertainty about whether detrimental effects will occur. From Dictionary.com.

Caroline Raffensperger explains the rationale behind the precautionary principle:

And another neat explainer here:

Find out more from pprinciple.net.

So they key issue is this: we suspect that human activity leads to climate change. We are still collecting data to support (or refute) this hypothesis, and the evidence is growing stronger and stronger that anthropogenic climate destabilisation is true. In the meantime, should we wait for more evidence before taking action or should we take preventative and remedial measures now, in order to get a ‘head start’?

When thinking about the Precautionary Principle with regards to anthropogenic climate change, it’s worth watching this (YouTube sensation) video from Greg Craven:

Here’s a nice explanation of the ‘debate’:

Finally, a concise article on Why the Global Warming Skeptics are wrong, from the New York Review of Books.

Key terms: carbon, cycle, dioxide, climate, global, warming, greenhouse, precautionary principle, arctic, ice, habitats, niches, radiation,

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