c. The amount of solar energy absorbed or radiated by Earth is modulated by the atmosphere and depends on its composition. Greenhouse gases— such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane— occur naturally in small amounts and absorb and release heat energy more efficiently than abundant atmospheric gases like nitrogen and oxygen. Small increases in carbon dioxide concentration have a large effect on the climate system.

This short video discusses where carbon dioxide, the gas that is mainly responsible for warming up our planet and changing the climate, comes from. It discusses how the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide comes directly from the burning of fossil fuels and indirectly from the human need for energy.

In this video segment, two students discuss the greenhouse effect and visit with research scientists at Biosphere 2 in Arizona, who research the effects of global climate change on organisms in a controlled facility. Their current research (as of 2002) focuses on the response to increased quantities of CO2 in a number of different model ecosystems.

In this activity, students learn about the relationship between greenhouse gases and global warming through a simple teacher demo or hands-on lab activity. Everyday materials are used: beakers, baking soda, vinegar, candle, thermometers, heat source such as a goose-necked lamp, etc. Students shine a light onto three thermometers: a control, an upside down beaker w/ a thermometer and air, and a beaker in which CO2 had been poured.

This video segment demonstrates carbon dioxide's role in the greenhouse effect and explains how increasing concentrations of C02 in the atmosphere may be contributing to global warming. Video includes an unusual demonstration of C02's heat-absorbing properties, using infrared film, a researcher's face, and a stream of C02 between them.