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Paleontological Research Institution


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences, Mathematics

Regional Focus



YouTube Video

Changes in Global CO2

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  • This short video explains the change in carbon dioxide levels in Earth's atmosphere using graphs and data from the Mauna Loa Observatory to demonstrate the trends in atmospheric carbon dioxide. 
  • The narrator thoroughly explains seasonal variation in vegetation as an explanation for the saw tooth pattern, using NASA imaging to convey global vegetation patterns.
  • The video then concludes with increasing carbon dioxide levels being attributed to fossil fuel use and a recognition that the pace with which carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere is speeding up. 
Teaching Tips


  • The use of credible data and research is effective in describing the problem of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. 
  • The video is short but provides the basics of this concept in a scientific way, using a variety of visual data as evidence. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be comfortable reading line graphs and describing trends in graphs. 


  • Consider having students dig deeper into some of the data and graphs presented in the video.  Teachers could print off some of the graphs and visual data to have students review before watching the video. Students could discuss their thoughts and observations of the data and formulate questions. Perhaps, then, the video would address their observations and questions. 
  • Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide is a resource that would pair nicely with this video.
Scientist Notes
This resource uses empirical data to show that carbon dioxide levels have been increasing since the 1950's. The data, which is publicly available, has a high degree of confidence in its accuracy. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • English Language Arts
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • 11-12.SL.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, perspective, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, links among ideas, word choice, points of emphasis, and tone used.
  • Mathematics
    • Data Reasoning and Probability (9-12)
      • HS.DR.D.11 Use statistical evidence from analyses to answer statistical investigative questions and communicate the findings in a variety of formats (verbal, written, visual) to support informed data-based decisions.
  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS.ESS2.4 Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate.
    • LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
      • HS.LS1.5 Use a model to illustrate how photosynthesis transforms light energy into stored chemical energy.
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