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Some people wonder how CO2 can have such a big influence on global warming since it is such a small part of the atmosphere -- only 0.04% (390 parts per million or ppm).  It turns out that CO2 is very efficient in trapping infrared radiation, which is better known as heat and it is transparent to visible radiation, which is better known as light.  This makes it an effective greenhouse gas.  But is it possible for something to have such a big impact when it is such a small percent of the atmosphere?  Since CO2 is transparent to light, it's hard to show it working (though with a bit of expensive equipment, it can be visualized).  So instead of using CO2, I have put together a demonstration using a material that is very effective in blocking light, even at extremely low concentrations... ink.

I've been striving to come up with ways for people to visualize the impacts of climate change.  Even though scientists are telling us we are heading for +5ºC (+9ºF), this information is not usually covered by the media and when it is, people don't react to it because it doesn't mean anything to them.  That's why I consider climate change to be the biggest psychology and marketing communications problem we have ever faced.

What suggestions do you have on how we can get people to understand the threat we are facing so that they demand that our leaders take action?  I think it's an important question.

Dan Miller
ClimatePlace.org

Originally posted to dannym999 on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 11:39 PM PST.

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