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Mitigating Global Climate Change: What will it take?

Micah Fish-Gertz, Susan E. Powers, Suresh Dhaniyala, Clarkson University, Potsdam NY

August 2011


Type: Project Module

Length: 5-6 45 minute class periods

Content Area/Course: Environmental Science, pre-engineering

Targeted Grade Level: Grades 11-12, Early College

Prerequisite Knowledge: basic understanding of climate change (importance, consequences), general climate change mitigation strategies (energy efficiency, low-and non-carbonenergy resources, reforestation, etc. ).

Prerequisite Skills: Basic Internet and MS Excel skills

Technology/web resources: Excel, internet access

Thinking skill development: Comprehension, synthesis, evaluation

NASA Resources Used: Modeling results compiled from Educational Global Climate Model (EdGCM) developed at the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Science


Students will analyze and develop mitigation plans for global CO2 emissions necessary to forestall global climate change. Students will use the concept of “mitigation wedges” to determine what actions are required to reduce future CO2 emissions and concentrations in the atmosphere. The results from global climate models for different mitigation strategies will be reviewed to assess our possible future climate. Effects to reduce carbon emissions and several different scenarios will be compared to comprehend what is necessary to slow global climate change. 

The essential question analyzed in this unit is:

"What would it take to reduce carbon dioxide emissions on a global scale such that atmospheric concentration reaches a stable level of 350 ppm and the global average temperature change stays below 2 degrees Celsius in 50 years?”