Teacher’s questions for Hacking the Planet


Before reading:

1.      Summer can mean hot weather. List some ways you can either a) cool off, or b) avoid that heat in the first place. Would any of these methods work on a much larger scale, either to cool Earth or keep our planet from warming more?


During reading:

1.      Define geoengineering.

2.      How has Earth’s atmosphere changed since 1750?

3.      Explain what has caused carbon dioxide levels to increase since the Industrial Revolution.

4.      How is carbon dioxide similar to the glass used in greenhouses?

5.      What are the two main approaches to geoengineering?

6.      How do phytoplankton respond to iron fertilization? What effect does that have on carbon dioxide levels in the ocean? In the atmosphere?

7.      Explain the difference between clouds having a high or low albedo.

8.      Name a natural source of aerosols.

9.      Where is the stratosphere?

After reading:

1.      Explain how biochar and phytoplankton are similar.

2.      Why would brightening clouds cool Earth’s atmosphere?

3.      What are some of the risks of geoengineering?


1.      Geoengineering projects would be big, complicated and expensive. Pick one of the proposals detailed in this article. Who do you think should pay for it? Explain your answer.

2.      Using a globe, pinpoint an area of the Earth’s surface that you believe naturally reflects more of the sun’s light. Why would that be? Explain your answer.

3.      Not all countries contribute equally to the buildup of excess carbon dioxide. Not all countries are being affected equally by global warming’s impacts (in terms of climate warming, extreme weather events, sea level rise and ocean acidification). In fact, many countries paying the highest price, in impacts, emit relatively little carbon dioxide. So imagine that you live in a low-lying island nation. It’s now threatened with being submerged as ocean warming raises sea levels. What would you ask the biggest polluting nations to do to help your nation’s inhabitants? What are such island nations actually doing about global warming? Imagine you’re the leader of a major polluting nation. How would you respond to such requests? Explain your decisions.