Notes on The carbon tsar
Carbon emissions and you
Timing: One lesson
- Illustrate the consequences of continued use of fossil fuels
- Follow up work looking at the chemistry involved in burning carbon
- Look at the effects of carbon dioxide on the environment
Individually – The students can run through the activity on their own if there are enough computers.
In groups – Students could be given, say, 10 minutes to run through the activity three times. They could then feed back as a class.
As a class – Using an interactive whiteboard, ask the class to provide energy saving suggestions. The actions could be carried out online, possibly using a nominated student to control the board.
Go to Carbon emissions and you
Tackling the country’s carbon emissions
Timing: One lesson
- Demonstrate some of the effects of carbon dioxide emissions on the population
- Get students to think of ways the problem can be solved
As a class – Use an interactive whiteboard so the entire class can participate.
Start by looking at the introductory statement from the carbon tsar. Ask the group to define carbon dioxide.
Carbon dioxide is the gas we exhale when we breathe, but global levels are not increasing because of rising population – it is man's economic activity, in particular burning fossil fuels, that is causing the problem.
Using the slideshow after the introduction, you could ask the group to suggest why population increase is not a direct cause. The answer is that most life forms exhale carbon dioxide, and as man's population has increased, other life forms have seen a decrease.
Ask the class if they can spot why small changes in temperature are important and what impact this could have.
As a class, brainstorm a list to show the plants we grow in the UK that depend on warmer or cooler weather.
Some things – maize and tomatoes for example – will be easier to grow. But other crops including potatoes, barley and wheat may suffer more from pests and diseases, which will survive the warmer, wetter winters.
In relation to flooding – polar ice melt is one cause of flooding. Ask the class if they can spot another.
Distribute Information card 6: Wind energy, or use the online Energy source. Go through the card quickly then list on the board the kind of site that would be best suited to wind energy.
The key factors are as follows:
- Prevailing wind – for the UK this is south-westerly
- Coastal location – most have onshore winds
- Height above sea level – buildings and physical barriers (hills, trees) slow down the wind. Wind speeds are consistently higher in three places: on very flat land, on hill tops and at sea
Ask the class to suggest any places where one would definitely NOT site a wind farm, for example in a valley, in a built-up area, or on the lee side of a range of hills.
Then move onto the activity. The students will need to work in small groups with access to computers. They need to decide which sites would be suitable for a wind farm of at least eight turbines. Point them to the online scorecard, which will help them to rank the sites. When they have finished, get the students to print a copy of the card for cross-class comparison. Alternatively, the group could keep a record of their scores and one member of the group could come to the front to input the numbers.
Once they have done that, you could ask the following questions. You could also ask these to older or more able students during the activity.
- What about shipping lanes? Are wind farms a problem? (They should not be, especially not if they are sited in relatively shallow water.)
- What about radar and low-flying aircraft? (Turbines are only built on suitable sites, where this is not a problem.)
- What about expense? Is it more expensive to build a turbine on top of a mountain or out at sea? (This is something you could set as a research project.)
- What about the planet? Should people be able to reject green technology just because they do not like what it looks like? (This is a very good question. In the past we accepted electricity pylons. Are wind turbines so very different?)
- Does society have an obligation to future generations?
Go to Tackling the country’s carbon emissions
Home energy audit
Geography and science
Timing: One lesson, or can be set as homework
- Investigate different energy sources and their associated advantages and disadvantages
- Tie together work on burning fossil fuels and work on different energy sources
- Written project for grading
Individually – Set one or both of the audit tasks to your students. The project element can be adapted to the age and ability of the group, by altering the range and depth of information required. If time allows, students could present their findings to the rest of their group.
Download Activity card 2: The carbon tsar: Home energy audit