Climate Change / Global Warming Science Demonstrations, Activities and Labs

The Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming are quite real.
Let's be sure the demonstrations we recommend to fellow educators are authentic, and get the science right!

Example of Faked Lab: "Climate 101" -- by the Climate Reality Project**
Worldwide broadcast lab experiment, narrated by Bill Nye.    **Al Gore founder
Hands-on Science Avoiding Flawed Demos > Greenhouse Effect > Problem Examples > Bill Nye and Al Gore

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Scientifically Strong

Very informative
video: Doubt

Video is based
on research reported in
this great book by
Naomi Oreskes
and Erik. M Conway

Take a look at the
index of any
major book
on climate change.
Naomi Oreskes,
Al Gore, McKibben,
pick your author...

"schools," "museums,"
"science education,"
"hands-on evidence,"
"public demonstrations
of the science,"
all are subjects that
somehow almost always
manage to
be overlooked.

Kids and science
education are
just not taken
seriously by
most climate science

Indeed, the same
industries addressed
in the book and video
have largely had free
reign in the schools
and museums of

Apparently, this is not a
problem for the elite.
Is anyone watching
what goes on
in science education
Few like there to be
even discussion on this.

There are just too many
organizations who have
made compromising
financial deals.
It is common for there to
be an understanding:
we turn a blind eye when
it comes to lobbying
groups having a major
influence in the nation's
public schools and
science centers.
It is not our concern.
This is especially true
with in regards to
energy and climate
science education.

No doubt.

Climate 101
Simple Lab
Experiment You
Can do at Home


The highly coveted
Ed Wood Award ®

Can be proudly
worn around the
neck, placed
under tongue,
or used in
future lab
in the
95-106 degree

This web portal
is a resource within
America's online library
for Education &
Research in Science,
Technology, Engineering,


Index and Introduction (Special section's home page)
Overview of Flawed Demo Examples
Menu of the individual examples: Analysis and testing of flawed demo designs
Being most heavily promoted: Need -- National Energy Education Development     Keystone Center
Prominent demos:     CLEAN     Bill Nye & Al Gore    On BBC TV    AMNH -- American Museum of Natural History
Many examples currently on-line:    Spin on That   PBS's Nova Capturing Carbon    Pico Tech     CIRES        
Flawed demos of this variety have been carefully reviewed, tested and analyzed by other reputable scientists: Lueddecke
Common errors with these relatively rare variations: Using other heat trapping (greenhouse) gases    Sunlight as the energy source variations

The Climate Reality Project -- Climate 101
Appeared on worldwide broadcasts of 24 Hours of Climate Reality, September 2011
On Vimeo -- Reality Climate 101    With Spanish Subtitles
Described as a "simple lab experiment can replicate yourself," runs from 0:47 (seconds) to 1:50.
This review is focuses on that portion of the video & broadcast segment.

Bill Nye comments on the video, discusses some of the flaws in the experiment: 1, 2-- November 14, 2011
Examples of dozens of blogs noting the video, which features the demo:    New Wood Blog      Tree Hugger     350orBust    Planet Save
2011 Winner!

Ed Wood Award

Developer, sponsor-promoter:
Climate Reality Project
Narrated by and based on a demonstration developed by: Bill Nye the Science Guy ®
Video by m ss ng p eces     Edited by Dark Igloo [31 page pdf]
Climate 101 -- on worldwide broadcast of 24 Hours of Climate Reality
Video narrated by Bill Nye, featuring a "simple lab experiment"
Mobile Climate Science Labs:
Testing demos like this one, with the public and back in the lab.

Two cookie jars, two oral thermometers,
two little Earths, two heat lamps overhead.

One faked science lab.

Bill Nye has commented too.

Sadly, it is not just the way the lab is
presented on the screen; the narration itself
is flawed. When one actually tries to
demonstrate the radiative greenhouse effect,
it reveals misconceptions previously hidden.
Nature is not forgiving when one tries to
demonstrate an oversimplification.

Testing demos similiar to the one
that later appeared on broadcast.
Opening Day of the Bill Nye Climate Lab
exhibit at Chabot Space and Science Center.
Sharing results, pointing out flaws,
as a pro bono service, with institutions
interested. (The decision makers weren't.)

Among the factors we check: How output,
varies between heat lamps,especially in IR.
Rare for any two to be identical.
Experience valuable in the development of
new demos, understanding mistakes to avoid
them, sharing with colleagues in hands-on
science, as well as with and the public.
Winner of the 2011 Ed Wood Award for Authentically Presented Science Lab

Climate 101
Global warming is real. It's
this lab that is unreal.

Solid glass cookie jar
lids act just like
Earth's atmosphere

Featuring celebrity
(Stunt double in video)

Reputable sources consulted
to faithfully represent
hands-on climate science.

Broadcast worldwide

Every detail carefully
by science advisory team
Hopefully one day, this lab will be to science educators, what an Ed Wood film is to film makers. A ludicrous example of doing something really, really badly.

Review of lab experiment presenting in internationally broadcast video
Based on viewing of the video, lab & field test results, and consideration of other faulty materials being widely promoted.

General Comments

Specific Scientific Errors

Follow up
• How to turn something truly real into something
truly faked. This is a media stunt, a stage show.
Not an authentic science lab experiment to be
taken seriously. Kids, don't waste you money
trying this at home or for a school project. There
are lots of great global warming demos that are real.

• Science demonstrations are too important
to be cheapened and trivialized -- by any one.

• Sadly, insults the intelligence of teachers, students,
scientists and others who value genuine hands-on
experiences with science; who believe the public
has the right to be involved in the scientific process.

• To CRP: Does this indicate disdain for public
science education and access to scientific evidence?
== Should not everyone have a genuine opportunity
to test basic science related to important topics?
(Hint: In authentic democracies, this happens. Yes?)
== Is CRP seriously recommending people try
to duplicate this lab?
== If not, is hands-on science considered to be
a joke? Something that isn't really needed?
== Was it expected that CRP's audience will
simply believe the lab results are real? Is not
that joining those that would make climate change
into a debate all about politicals and values.
Testable, verifiable science is irrelevant.
Is global warming something that exists only if you
believe it? Or something that exists, whether you
want to believe it or not? Science is about what is;
not about convincing others to believe what want
them to. It's based on evidence; discoverying,
communicating and acting upon what is real.
== What do you think is happening as families
actually try to replicate what is in the video? They
will not get authentic results. Then what?

• Why promote a fake science demonstration,
when legitimate hands-on climate science is
available, even if not being done by the CRP?

• In the classrooms and museums across America,
real hands-on climate science is needed. There is
enough faked information being directed at the
public already that fosters doubt and confusion
over global warming and climate change science.
• Lab experiment presented in the video is faked.
Totally staged for effect. For instance, common
home oral medical thermometers are used, with
lowest possible temp reading: 95 Farenheit. How
could measurements have been taken just after
lights first turned on? Fake sound effect squeeks.
(Just as in "Plan 9 from Outer Space," everything is
ridiculously faked.) It is doubtful if anyone in the
studio even bothered to try to run the lab

• "The lamps are like our sun." If the lamps
represent the sun, why would they heat up the
Could we measure the signal in all that noise?

• "The bottles are like our atmosphere?" Glass
is not a good model of the atmosphere, especially
if you are trying to demonstrate CO2
actually warming up.

• Lense effect of glass lids onto thermometer bulbs.

• Confusion over the real atmosphere's absorption
of incoming infrared, and its role in global warming.

• Confused about spectrum of incoming radiation

Is this yet another demo which promotes
confusion between solid convection literal
greenhouses and atmospheric radiative
metaphorical greenhouses?

• Energy from the infrared lamps will not be equal.
Would vary significantly in at least 3 different ways.
To assure the heat lamps are of equal intensity
requires steps going way beyond a "simple
experiment you can do at home".

• "Seal the bottles." As shown, you're kidding right?

• Thermometers exposed to radiant IR directly.

• How would you even begin to use oral
thermometers like those shown in a lab experiment?

• No way would this set up produce a measurable
temperature differential, authentically attributable
to CO2 absorption of IR, as claimed. See
test results from other demos. This one is the
worst of those reviewed, in terms of lab techniques.

• Misconceptions in the narration relate to why
this demo can't work. So many details about what
really happens in the atmosphere are inaccruate.
• We are encouraged by Bill Nye's comments,
recognizing the deep flaws in the presentation, at
least as it appears in the video.

• It would be wonderful if the Climate Reality
Project and Al Gore could let people
know something like: "Sorry, we really messed
up on this one. It was wrong of us to trivialize
hands-on public verification of basic science."

The science is real, but can and should be
demonstrated publically. There is no call for faking
hands-on demonstrations of the basic science.

• It would be great if something could be done
about the video. The fake lab ruins the rest of it.

• We do recommend the lab in the video as a
reminder to educators of what we must never do in
hands-on science. We must never fake anything,
especially the science. We do not need to.

• We will bring replicas of this lab out to the
public in 2012. Perhaps as some comic relief.
(People could cry at this tragedy, or be revolted,
but why not laugh at it a little.) Also, a contest for
younger kids: how many flaws can you spot
in this lab in 3 minutes?

The cookie jars are of use -- using thermal imaging,
people see the jars are about as transparent as
bricks in many wavelengths of IR.

Note: Students and teachers should not miss
Doubt: the excellent, informative video by the Climate Reality Project about tobacco smoking.

Seriously. This one is really good.
This video sheds light on this subject of climate science demonstrations.
How is it that there are so many different climate science demos being promote by major sponsors; yet the favored, chosen demos are so similar?
As science educators, we need to work together; to sort out the flawed demos, from the ones truly based on sound science.
Well meaning people can be hoodwinked by fake or flawed science demos and find themselves among those promoting them.

Educational institutions in the United States presenting this demo include:
None known to be.
Does appear on websites and videos, primarily those more of a political nature.
Kids and parents will likely mimic for their school projects, Youtube videos. Feeds the urban myth that a "simple experiment" like this is authentic.
Bill Nye notes that his voice "describes an experiment or demonstration that I’ve performed several times over the last 15 years."
Note of concern: the reputation of science museums can become associated, when Bill Nye is the narrator for such a broadcast segment.

Note: it has become a common practice to present educational materials without giving due acknowledgement and credit to their original creator.
This is not good academic etiquette or protocol, and weakens science education, we feel.  Demos are frequently presented without crediting the original developer(s).

This case also indicates another hazard: associating a demonstration with a name or organization, and then performing in badly.

Introduction and Index
>>  Faulty demonstrations being heavily promoted -- over a dozen examples <<
Errors and misconceptions commonly found in flawed demonstrations
Testing the demos, mistakes revealed -- lab & field results from scientists and hundreds of students & teachers

Scientifically strong demonstrations engaging millions. Powerful, fun, dramatic, unforgettable.
Resources & Further Background
Encouraging rebuttal: welcoming sponsor-promoters to defend if demos are scientifically valid.
Testing the evidence for everyone to see, experience for themselves -- that's what has made science demonstrations so very powerful in history

Acknowledgements, Thank You's            Contact

2011 Climate Education Specialists, since 1999
We are a team of teachers, docents, scientists, engineers, techs, artists, students and parents providing
pro bono services for thousands of climate education programs worldwide. While primarily based at science museums
and the University of California, we work with hundreds of schools, programs and science institutions around the world
to strengthen the climate education community.  If we should be working with you too, let us know.

For over ten years: we have been designing, developing and presenting hands-on science demonstrations for 100,000's of participants.
Sharing experiences, mutual learning with science education programs worldwide..
If you are part of designing, teaching, presenting and/or supporting sound science hands-on demonstrations on climate change, perhaps we should be working together.