Mystery of the Three Scary Numbers: A Climate Change Teaching Activity

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 2013. 7 pages.
A teaching activity on global warming.

  • Themes: Environment & Food | Resource Types: Teaching Activities (Free)

co2_data_mlo“Recently, I taught a unit on climate change at a local high school in Portland. I began by introducing students to the ‘three scary numbers’ featured in Bill McKibben’s important Rolling Stone article from last summer, ‘Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.’

“The first scary number is 2 degrees Celsius. As McKibben points out, it’s the only climate number that virtually the entire world agrees on. Keep the climate from warming 2 degrees Celsius—about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit—and there is some hope of preventing a climate calamity. In the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Accord, 167 countries, including the United States, pledged: “that deep cuts in global [greenhouse gas] emissions are required… so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius.” McKibben acknowledges that even a 2 degree rise in global temperatures is fraught with danger, but it’s the only international consensus on a climate target—’the bottomest of bottom lines,’ writes McKibben. The first scary number.” [Intro “An Earth Day Message: Take Heart from the Abolition Movement” by Bill Bigelow.]

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