Adorable Girl Tests Global Warming Hypothesis

Future Skepchick Linda (whose proud dad sent me this link) tested the hypothesis that increased levels of CO2 will lead to warming. See her method and results:

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. Little Linda is very lucky to have parents with time enough to spend on projects like this.

    My niece is 7 years old, and I’ve tried to think of ways of countering the nonsense she’ll inevitably encounter at her religious school.

    As a start, I’ve purchased her a membership at the California Academy of Sciences.

    And I was heartened when she asked for a telescope for her birthday.

    Any suggestions on books with fun science experiments for little kids, age 7-9?


  2. It’s impossible to not smile when watching this; great parenting combined with a charming, very intelligent young girl equals a bright and encouraging future.

  3. I wish the methods had been explained a little more clearly. It sounded like the CO2 balloon was 100% CO2. We’re not really going to care any more long before our atmospheric CO2 levels reach 100%. It would be interesting to see this repeated with several balloons starting with standard atmospheric composition and working up in increasing CO2 percentages. The temperature differences may not be as dramatic, but any temperature increase between balloons would underline the importance of reducing CO2 pollution.

  4. Rebel 16, you need to remember that the atmosphere extends some 100km up ( 75% of density in the first 11km), given that a ~2c increase was achieved in a 20cm balloon I would suggest the same effect would be achievable in a 11km column of air at lower concentrations of CO2. Thou such an experiment maybe past the resources of a 9 year old :-)

  5. Wow. I’m going to suggest this to my 10-year-old’s school, because 1) it’s a really cool way of getting kids to understand the scientific method, and the reality of global warming, and 2) I’m too lazy to get around to doing it myself.

    Good on Linda and her parents.

  6. We all know the greenhouse effect is caused by the concentration of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, which allow some of the heat to escape into space, while some heat is reflected back to the ground. Well, I learned last night, and some of you may already be aware of this, but that’s actually the trimmed down, over-simplified for public consumption version.

    I found an article last night that had a throw-away line about CO2 emitting heat. That didn’t seem right, so I started looking around, and it turns out it’s true. CO2 emits heat. And that reminded me of this video.

    What’s really happening is that CO2 absorbs IR, holds onto it for a little while, and eventually re-emits it. So it’s not so much of a reflecting, as it is a scattering. A CO2 molecule will absorb infrared photons, and re-emit it in a new direction, where it can potentially be re-absorbed and re-emitted by another CO2 molecule. Inside that little balloon is a scattering of infrared energy. So this little experiment is more demonstrative of the greenhouse effect than I’d initially realized.

  7. Awesome Experiment!

    SuperTec, it might be worthwhile to suggest graphing the temperature, rather than instantaneous measures, to show that not only is the temperature higher, but the rate of temperature change is greater.

  8. A smart girl. It looks like the parents didn’t help too much except the video work and hanging the ballons high on the line. The science in the video is at a 9 y.o. level.

    Well done Linda!

  9. @Dale Husband: A while back I got into a debate on Facebook with a friend of mine about climate change, and I basically called him out and asked him to cite his sources. He posted a ton of links; mostly NASA just for the raw data, but also Chris Monckton’s organization, (what a piece of work he turned out to be) and Watts Up With That. First I’d heard of it, actually.

    I checked it out on and off for maybe 2 or 3 weeks, and every time, I couldn’t even make it off the first page without finding at least 3 articles with science so bad it hurt.

    I had to delete it from my browser history. I think it says a lot that I’d rather be caught watching porn than reading Watts Up With That.

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