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Human Energy Systems | Activity 4.4

Activity 4.4: Global Computer Model (50 min)

Students explore carbon pools and fluxes, including the fossil fuel pool and combustion flux using a Global Computer Model.

Materials You Provide

  • Computers (1 for each student or each pair of students)

Resources Provided

Recurring Resources


Prepare one copy of 4.4 Global Computer Model Reading and one copy of 4.4 Global Computer Model Worksheet for each student. Follow the link for the Global Computer Model short film to download it to your computer. Prepare a computer and projector for the film and 4.4 Global Computer Model PPT. You may want to prepare the poster papers around the room as described in step 4 of the directions.


1. Introduce the Activity.

Display Slide 2 of the 4.4 Global Computer Model PPT to show student where they are in the instructional sequence.


This activity includes opportunities for both formative and summative assessment.


  • You might want to point in step 5 out that although the seasonal cycle is a naturally occurring phenomenon, the current overall trend in increases in CO2 and temperature cannot be explained using evidence of natural cycles. Students may point to specific natural cycles as evidence that climate change is not caused by humans, which might include sunspots, volcanic activity, El Niño, or changes in the Earth’s rotation around the Sun. While it is true that these natural phenomena do cause variations in shorter time periods (1-15 years or so), these variations do not contradict the evidence for the recent increase in CO2 levels and temperature, especially in the last 60 years. These increases have persisted over a longer time period than natural causes like sunspots and volcanoes can explain.
  • It won’t hurt to mention a few times that the fossil fuel pool has nothing to do with the seasonal flux!