Academia General

Test your science literacy

Here is a quick collection of science questions I’ve cobbled together after having a discussion last night with someone going into teaching. Try to answer them before you look at the answer. I’ve picked a few simple things that I think people should know in area of Earth Science:

  1. What is the single largest factor that contributes to the warming of the earth? Answer: the Sun.
  2. What gas in the Earth’s atmosphere is responsible for trapping the most heat? Answer: water vapor.
  3. To within a few percent, what percentage our atmosphere is made up of CO2? Answer: approximately 0.036%.
  4. What is the most abundant gas in the Earth’s atmosphere? Answer: Nitrogen. Approximately 80%
  5. What is the closest star to Earth? Answer: the Sun
  6. Why is it warmer in the summer than in the winter?Answer: the tilt of the Earth. The Earth is actually closest to the Sun in January.

Enjoy. Highlight the end of the question to get the answers.

By Gary

3 dimples. 7 continents. 130 countries.

6 replies on “Test your science literacy”

So, you are saying that anthropogenic global climate change is a farce?

I just reread it and I dont’ see that anywhere. .. and I knew someone would probably infer that. In fact, I went out of my way not to mention anything about warming.

These things are all true. You can look it up and verify it yourself. These facts provide no evidence whatsoever in the warming debate, they are just the parameters in which it takes place.

I do confess to being selective to what questions I asked. I picked them becasue people are developing scientific inferences from news reports. Question 3 is something I ask people often. Most people think the atmosphere is about half CO2. The only reason I can think they would believe that is because they hear about it all the time. If our atmosphere were half CO2, we’d look a lot like Venus and everything would probably be dead.

I read a news report once where the Governor of Massachuchets demanded that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere be reduced by half….which would end all life on earth.

The fact that CO2 comprises less than 0.1% of the atmosphere is irrevelant to how effective CO2 is to blocking infrared radiation.

My point of this exercise is that people should make decisions being informed, rather than uninformed.

Wait till I do my evolution one.

I went five for six. Does this mean I can eat lunch with the nice scientists instead of the mean sociologist kids?

Clearly my sarcasm failed to come through 😉

Still, you can’t deny that such arguments are the same ones used by those who say “global warming” is a sham. Seems like the fact CO2 is such a small percent of our atmosphere actually makes it easier to believe human-generated CO2 could actually make a difference.

The last question should be more specific, or at least amended. Yes, the tilt of the earth has the largest effect on the warming of the earth in the summer, but bear in mind that the summer in the south hemisphere gets both factors. In January, places like brazil are extremely hot because the tilt AND the fact that the earth is closest to the sun play supporting roles.

The ellipticity of the orbit of the Earth is very small (0.00335). For all practical purposes its circular. Your correct that the distance to the sun would make it a bit hotter in the southern hemisphere.

However, the distance effect is so overwhelmed by the tilt of the earth that for all practical purposes, we’d have no seasons if there was no tilt. (ala Venus) In trying to explain to people how the seasons work, I think its adequate to just say its due to the tilt of the earth.

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