NPR NatGeo Climate Connections on iTunes

May 7, 2007 at 9:22 am | Posted in 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, Carbon, Chemistry, Climate change, iTunes, Middle School, Podcasts, Science, Students, Teachers | 3 Comments

NPR/Wild Chronicles Climate Connections Carbon audios

Get your iPods ready, climate change students! NPR and National Geographic have joined forces to produce a series of programmes about global warming.

Go to iTunes Store and search on Climate Connections. You can Subscribe now to Download:

Episode 1: It’s all about carbon (12min 35sec)

😉 and get all future podcast episodes automatically.

This is a very simple introduction. Checkout the story and more images. Future episodes will cover:

  • Episode 2: Making carbon bonds
  • Episode 3: Breaking carbon bonds
  • Episode 4: How carbon makes us rich
  • Episode 5: How carbon makes us warm

Alternatively, visit the NPR website for the:

NPR/Wild Chronicles Climate Connections Carbon videos

“NPR’s Climate Connections series takes you on a year-long global voyage, exploring how the Earth’s climate shapes people, and how people are shaping the Earth’s climate. A partnership with National Geographic.”


If you have no time to listen to the episode now, here’s a summary.

Learn about carbon—the central element of life—to understand the basis of global warming. The nature of bonds is crucial to understanding the behaviour of the carbon atom. A carbon atom cannot choose to change its behaviour: it just has to bond firmly with other atoms.

Energy, known simply as bond energy, is stored in bonds between atoms. We use (an amount of) energy to break bonds between atoms so they are free to release (a smaller or larger amount of) energy as they bond with other atoms to form new molecules. This energy release happens as we burn fuel (in our cars, homes, and … bodies, where you are more used to hearing about burning calories).

The energy needed to break a chemical bond is equal to the energy released when the bond was formed. In the case of fossil fuels, energy was released millions of years ago when plants and animals decomposed, and were later compressed by natural factors to form carbon-based fuels: coal, oil, gas. We can use a small amount of energy to break those bonds, and release a larger amount of energy to fuel our current lifestyles.

After we break bonds between carbon atoms, each carbon atom is free to bond with other atoms. If two oxygen atoms are available, a carbon atom will bond with them as soon as possible to form carbon dioxide, and energy is released as heat or calories as these new chemical bonds form.

CO2 is a by-product of our use of carbon that could be described as a marriage “Made in Heaven ®”. Oh dear.

So, CO2 is produced whenever we break carbon bonds and free carbon atoms which can then bond with oxygen atoms and release energy in so doing. And you know where that carbon dioxide ends up, don’t you? Some of it is absorbed by oceans, some of it is absorbed by trees, and the rest hangs in our atmosphere as a greenhouse gas 😦

Remember, like all living things, we are all carbon-based lifeforms. However, just because we are made of carbon, water and other chemicals, we are not limited to behaving as collections of atoms: we have the ability to choose! Our choices are key to managing this carbon dioxide in our atmosphere effectively.

Choice is key to understanding and modifying the behaviour of people. (Without choice, we might as well be robots.) We can choose to be flexible and change our behaviour. We can choose to combat climate change.



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  1. Nice.

  2. Where are the rest of the episodes? I love this!

  3. […] you like NPR NatGeo Climate Connections! As far as I know, it is released once a month. The first was on May Day, so the second in the […]

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