Teacher & Student Materials

Powering a Warming Planet

Fossil fuels are amazing substances. They provide the energy that keeps the world going. Yet, their ongoing use is causing global warming, which can lead to climate change and many other issues. This unit consists of three learning sets:

  1. Evidence for global warming is provided and a case is made that this is caused primarily by CO2. Most atmospheric CO2 comes from burning fossil fuels for energy.
  2. Why does burning fossil fuels emit CO2? This learning will track the carbon cycle and its relations with energy and all living things.
  3. The final learning set addresses the question, how can we reduce CO2 emissions? It presents ways to decrease energy use, alternative energy sources, recycle carbon from the atmosphere, the promise and weakness of each approach.


The unit emphasizes use of public data, quantitative reasoning, emphasizes the disparities in energy use across the world, and builds students awareness of the importance of using science in addressing this grand challenge.

Teacher Materials