Learn It

Read the article “Climate Change: Atmospheric Carbon Dioxideopens in new window” from Climate.gov to gain an understanding of what it reveals about carbon dioxide and climate change.

Next, read the excerpt below of the second and third paragraphs of the article.  As you read, analyze and take notes about the following:

  • Information about climate change
  • Which information is qualitative
  • Which information is quantitative

Carbon dioxide belongs to a category of gases known as "greenhouse gases." These gases absorb warmth from their surroundings and re-radiate some of it back toward Earth's surface, slowing the rate at which the planet loses heat. This "greenhouse effect" is nothing new: plants and animals have enjoyed the benefits of its warming influence for billions of years. Without the greenhouse effect, Earth's average temperature would fall below freezing. However, human activities are now increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, amplifying the natural warming caused by the greenhouse effect.

During the Industrial Revolution, humans began burning coal, natural gas, and oil to power machines for manufacturing and transportation. Since then, we have burned more fossil fuels each decade, releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide that were previously stored in the ground into the atmosphere. Before the Industrial Revolution, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide was about 280 ppm. When continuous observations began at Mauna Loa in 1958, carbon dioxide concentration was roughly 315 ppm. On May 9, 2013, the daily average concentration of carbon dioxide measured at Mauna Loa surpassed 400 parts per million for the first time on record.

- Climate.govopens in new window, August 30, 2009

The interactive below shows the key details provided in this excerpt to explain carbon dioxide and climate change and how the information can be translated from quantitative to qualitative, or vice versa.  The details are separated into qualitative and quantitative categories.  Pay close attention to the bolded words.  These are the specific details in each piece of evidence that determine whether it is qualitative or quantitative.