Clark’s Story: A Gas From the Past

Truthout’s weekly posting of short videos about climate change and its effects, “The Green Ninja,” a character created by a climate scientist and his team, provides an entertaining and educational way to help middle school aged children – and everyone else – grasp the intricacies of climate change and learn what they can personally do to become involved in fighting it. See additional details about the series or head straight to this week’s episode, “Clark’s Story.”

In this week’s episode of the Green Ninja Show, a man named Clark wants to go outside, but it is too cold to just wear a T-shirt. He needs to put on a coat to insulate him from the cold air outside. The only problem is: if he wears clothes that are too thin, he will be cold, while if his apparel is too warm, it will be uncomfortably hot!

Just like Clark, the Earth needs to be insulated from the high and low temperatures of space, but too little or too much insulation is also a bad thing. Clark goes on to tell the story about his great-grandfather who sold his mules to help the coal miners. All of the coal found around the world back in Clark’s great-grandfather’s time has been burned for heat and energy. Coal is a carbon-based mineral, so burning it releases carbon into the atmosphere. When carbon gets into the atmosphere, it has a way of sticking around.

Carbon molecules in Earth’s atmosphere add to the natural insulation shielding the planet from extraterrestrial temperatures. This is a huge problem because the atmosphere already had enough insulation, so by adding carbon to the atmosphere, the Earth becomes over-insulated and that keeps more heat trapped inside the atmosphere.

Feeling warm?