Here at Naturesave, we thought we would offer you a simple climate change experiment, one that you can perform at home, and one that will clearly demonstrate what happens when the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere increase. Why do we feel the need to do this?
Well, the fundamentals of climate change have been understood for decades. Yet with Donald Trump pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement, it seems there are many some have not quite yet accepted the science. Even at home, recent research reveals that one in eight (13%) of Brits admit they don’t think global warming is real – that’s 8.5 million people, or roughly the population of London.
The greenhouse gasses, CO2 and methane, are naturally occurring in limited amounts and help keep our atmosphere at just the right temperature to sustain life as we know it. Unfortunately if we produce an excess of these gasses, the global average temperature will rise, leading to a catalogue of potentially serious problems.
The science is quite simple. Before human economic activity began to increase, the earth was able to maintain a relatively stable temperature by reflecting back much of the suns solar energy. About one third of this solar radiation is immediately reflected straight back into space. The rest is absorbed by into the oceans and the land before being released into the atmosphere as thermal radiation, which then passes out into space
The problem with gasses like CO2 and methane, is their ability to trap solar radiation within our atmosphere, preventing it from being reflected back into space. Increasing the presence of these gasses holds more heat in the atmosphere, causing it to heat up, just like a greenhouse.
Follow the steps below, to perform the experiment to demonstrate the impact of a build up of greenhouse gasses.
What you will need: –
- 2 identical large clear plastic bottle
- Two thermometers
- (either a traditional type or digital temperature probes)
- Two spotlights of equal intensity.
- You could always use one, in-between the two bottles)
- Blue tac or plasticine (to seal the bottles)
- 1 small bottle for CO2 collection
- Malt vinegar
- Baking soda
- 1 balloon
How long will it take – Less than an hour
When and where to carry it out – At home, at school, at dinner parties, just about anywhere really.
Ok, Lets do it
Cut the top of each plastic bottle, place a thermometer into each and seal with sticky tape. Ensure the thermometers are positioned in the same manor in each bottle. (As an option you can add a similar amount of water in each bottle. This improves stability and acts to simulate the water on our planet). Seal both bottles with the blue tac.
Place the light source at an equal distance in front of each plastic bottle. You have now created two simulated atmospheres that represent the earth. One bottle will be left to contain regular air. In the second you need to add a source of CO2.
Record the temperature in both test bottles before commencing the experiment.
Preparing the CO2 source. Pour the vinegar into the small plastic bottle. (Fill it by approximately one fifth). Then, take the balloon and add two heaped teaspoons of baking soda into the balloon. Carefully place the balloon over the neck of the bottle, ensuring it is sealed. When ready, lift up the balloon so the baking soda contents falls into the bottle. The reaction will then produce CO2, which will fill the balloon.
Adding the greenhouse gas (the CO2). Remove the balloon from the source bottle, being careful not to let the gas escape. Now attach the balloon over the neck of one of the test bottles. Note, it can help to squeeze in the sides of the bottle a little beforehand, this helps when adding add the CO2. Remove the balloon and replace the seal immediately.
Your global warming simulation has now begun. Record the temperature in both bottles every minute for 10 minutes. In this experiment, the test bottles represent our atmosphere. The different levels of CO2 between the bottles should demonstrate what happens when greenhouse gas levels increase. As you will observe the bottle with the added CO2 will experience a greater temperature increase, as the CO2 acts to traps the energy supplied by the lamp.
We think this experiment clearly proves the impact of an increase in greenhouse gasses. If you want further evidence, that explores the impact of human activity on causing climate change, we recommend using this tool created at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies – NASA Interactive Visualisation.
A message from Mark Goldthorpe
I thought that this new group – organised by Deborah Tomkins (Weatherfronts 2016) – would be of interest to anyone in Bristol and surrounding areas. Please contact Deborah direct – and of course, if you know of others who might be interested then I’m sure she would be happy for you to pass this on.
Climate Writing Group (Bristol)
If you write about climate change and/or the environment (or are interested in doing so), and would like to meet up with other writers exploring these issues, please get in touch! Monthly meetings starting in 2017: discussion, critique, sharing information, support. All types of writing welcome – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama.
Deborah Tomkins firstname.lastname@example.org
There is also the original writing group that emerged from this year’s Weatherfronts, which meets monthly in London. For further info, contact Darragh Martin on email@example.com
You might also be interested to know that on 14th November at Free Word in London, Brit Bildoen – Danish author and participant in Weatherfronts 2016 – will be reading from her latest book (Seven Days in August) and speaking about the relevance of climate in her writing.
|An Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project ‘Exploring energy and community in the past, present and future’ aims to help to revive public and political conversations about energy by looking in a fresh way at its past, present and future. Artists led by Tipping Point and Visiting arts are working with communities and university researchers.
Story 1: Policy Story: Demanding Times gathers a novel mix of communities of interest around energy policy, and generates new accounts of energy policy and politics past, present and future. Story 2: Industry Story: Future Works is rooted in the English midlands, and seeks to unearth fresh accounts of the long relationship between energy, industrial making and landscape, and explores where it might go next. Story 3: Everyday Story: Life Cycles engages with the role that energy resources have played in shaping communities and everyday life in south Wales.
by Naomi Wright
It is the beginning of term and we stand about discussing our theme for our classes ahead. I suggest art and energy, it interests me for all sorts of reasons. I say I am helping with similar themed workshops with some college students outdoors as part of Regensw’s art and energy programme. I wonder whether it will interest the class. We think about the wide range of meanings for energy. Energy is everything, I say, remembering a recent workshop. In a physical sense, binding the molecules of our being, energy fixed from the sun, in the movement of a river, the heat from a fire, in our food, in the every-day. We have our own energy, in the spirit of the land, in leylines, in happiness, in despair.
So the term at Crediton arts centre has taken this as a theme…. A couple of us are working with an old luccombe oak that has had to be cut down in the local park. We think of the power within, the height and weight of it, the history in it, the energy held beneath in the ground. The dying energy, used by fungus, the last of the leaves to be photosynthisising.
Others in the class discuss their drawings through the eye of an energy lens. Lines are energetic, directioned, growing. The still life is far from still as vegetation takes on a new meaning, pots spin, and all the senses are enlivened.
We’re all curious in how this will progress… Pat especially, as she has ideas for some new installations.
Naomi Wright is an artist who collaboratively researches the benefits of being outdoors in the elements. In sunshine, wind, or rain she maps and constructs places, things and conversations that make the most of our ecological interplay.
SusLab: a unique international platform to develop successful sustainable innovations for homes.
Suslab are interested in researching peoples perceptions of energy and have recently completed a research project with the RCA on drawing energy. An EU funded international project combines quantitative research with ethnographic design methodology.
Perception, practice and the energy transition.
|Published in 2015, The Metabolic Landscape is a beautifully illustrated, fascinating and engaging exploration of the unfolding relationship between energy and the landscape, and our interpretation of it.|
|Humankinds search for more powerful sources of energy to sustain an urbanising existence has created an energy transition that, while hugely beneficial to human existence, is now being identified as a source of harm. Just as metabolic disease refers to energy-sourced medical problems, so too the planet, the authors propose, is showing increasing signs of metabolic distress.|