Atmospheric Carbon: Can We Offset the Increase?

This is a multi-step activity that helps students measure, investigate, and understand the increase in atmospheric CO2 and the utility of carbon offsets. It also enables students to understand that carbon offsets, through reforestation, are not sufficient to balance increases in atmospheric C02 concentration.

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Jocelyn Boucher
Maine Maritime Academy
On the Cutting Edge

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

This activity can be extended to consider the effectiveness of other carbon mitigation strategies. For example, students could calculate how many trees would need to be planted for their own personal carbon emissions, or they could create a combination strategy that consists of several different approaches. The key is to use math to learn if the solutions are feasible or not.

The activity could be done in small, in-class groups, following a unit on greenhouse gases and the enhanced greenhouse effect. It might also be assigned for homework prior to a unit on ocean acidification.

Other tips are provided in the activity overview.