Do You Know More About Climate Change Than The Average American?

When researchers at Yale University put these questions to U.S. adults, most failed miserably. Can you do better?

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The world's nations are about to gather in Paris to agree a new treaty to limit global warming. So now is a good time to test your knowledge of climate change.

  1. 1. What does the “greenhouse effect” refer to?

    The Earth’s protective ozone layer
    Via Wikimedia Commons
    The Earth’s protective ozone layer
    How plants grow
    Via Flickr: stevendepolo
    How plants grow
    Gases in the atmosphere that trap heat
    Via NASA/JPL AIRS Project
    Gases in the atmosphere that trap heat
    Pollution that causes acid rain
    Via Flickr: vanessao
    Pollution that causes acid rain
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Greenhouse gases trap heat from the sun, reflected back from the Earth’s surface.

  2. 2. The average temperature of the earth’s surface is currently about 58 degrees Fahrenheit (14.4 degrees Celsius). What was the average 150 years ago?

    Flickr: trekkyandy
    About 52 degrees F (11.1 degrees C)
    About 54 degrees F (12.2 degrees C)
    About 56 degrees F (13.3 degrees C)
    About 58 degrees F (14.4 degrees C)
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Since 1850, the Earth has warmed on average by almost 2 degrees F (about 1 degree C). Scientists know how much the Earth has warmed since the industrial revolution from measurements taken at weather stations over many decades. Estimating the current global average temperature is hard because fewer measurements are made over the oceans and near the poles. The value of 58 degrees F selected by Yale for its survey is at the upper end of current estimates.

  3. 3. And what was the average temperature during the last ice age, which peaked around 21,000 years ago?

    Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF
    Cosmos Studios
    About -16 degrees F (-26.7 degrees C)
    About 16 degrees F (-8.9 degrees C)
    About 32 degrees F (0 degrees C)
    About 48 degrees F (8.9 degrees C)
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    During the last ice age, huge ice sheets extended much farther from the poles than they do today. But the Earth’s average temperature was still comfortably above freezing.

  4. 4. Which gas is good at trapping heat from the Earth’s surface?

    thinkstockphotos.com
    Carbon dioxide
    Methane
    Water vapor
    All of the above
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    All three are greenhouse gases. Another is nitrous oxide, which is emitted when farmers add nitrogen to the soil by using synthetic fertilizers.

  5. 5. Which gas is produced by burning fossil fuels?

    Oxygen
    Via ThinkStock
    Oxygen
    Carbon dioxide
    Via commons.wikimedia.org
    Carbon dioxide
    Hydrogen
    Via Flickr: 137789813@N06
    Hydrogen
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    When fossil fuels burn, much of the carbon they contain combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide.

  6. 6. Which is a fossil fuel?

    Natural gas
    Via Flickr: kareneliot
    Natural gas
    Hydrogen
    Via Flickr: 137789813@N06
    Hydrogen
    Solar energy
    Via Flickr: rodoaraiza
    Solar energy
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Natural gas forms when the remains of dead plants and animals are exposed to intense heat and pressure over thousands of years.

  7. 7. Where did the energy in fossil fuels originally come from?

    The sun
    Via Flickr: rodoaraiza
    The sun
    The fossilized remains of dinosaurs
    Via Flickr: angusmcdiarmid
    The fossilized remains of dinosaurs
    Uranium in the Earth
    Via en.wikipedia.org
    Uranium in the Earth
    None of the above
    Via Flickr: leiaspeia
    None of the above
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Fossil fuels formed from the remains of dead plants and animals. The energy they contain came from sunlight, captured by photosynthesizing plants.

  8. 8. Roughly how much carbon dioxide was in the atmosphere in 1850?

    ThinkStock
    150 parts per million
    290 parts per million
    400 parts per million
    450 parts per million
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    That’s just under 0.03% of the air, by volume.

  9. 9. Roughly how much carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere today?

    150 parts per million
    290 parts per million
    400 parts per million
    450 parts per million
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    There is about 38% more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today than there was in 1850.

  10. 10. How much do scientists estimate that global sea levels rose from 1900 to 2000?

    Flickr: knmurphy
    They did not rise
    6 to 9 inches (15 to 23 centimeters)
    3 to 4 feet (0.9 to 1.2 meters)
    10 to 12 feet (3 to 3.7 meters)
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Scientists have measured sea level rise with tide gauges, and more recently, from satellites.

  11. 11. Which of these countries emits the most carbon dioxide?

    Germany
    Via en.wikipedia.org
    Germany
    United States
    Via en.wikipedia.org
    United States
    China
    Via en.wikipedia.org
    China
    India
    Via en.wikipedia.org
    India
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    China’s carbon dioxide emissions overtook those of the U.S. in 2007.

  12. 12. Which of these countries emits the most carbon dioxide per person?

    Germany
    Via en.wikipedia.org
    Germany
    United States
    Via en.wikipedia.org
    United States
    China
    Via en.wikipedia.org
    China
    India
    Via en.wikipedia.org
    India
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    On average, each American is responsible for more than twice the carbon dioxide emissions of the average Chinese citizen.

Do You Know More About Climate Change Than The Average American?

You get an F

When researchers at Yale University gave American adults a quiz including versions of these questions, 52% scored an F grade.

You get an F
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You get a D

When researchers at Yale University gave American adults a quiz including versions of these questions, 52% scored an F grade.

You get a D
ThinkStock
Take quizzes and chill with the BuzzFeed app.
Get the app
You get a C

When researchers at Yale University gave American adults a quiz including versions of these questions, 52% scored an F grade.

You get a C
ThinkStock
Take quizzes and chill with the BuzzFeed app.
Get the app
You get a B

When researchers at Yale University gave American adults a quiz including versions of these questions, 52% scored an F grade.

You get a B
ThinkStock
Take quizzes and chill with the BuzzFeed app.
Get the app
You get an A

When researchers at Yale University gave American adults a quiz including versions of these questions, 52% scored an F grade.

You get an A
ThinkStock
Take quizzes and chill with the BuzzFeed app.
Get the app

Check out the full results of the Yale survey here.

Peter Aldhous is a Science Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco. His secure PGP fingerprint is 225F B2AF 4B8E 6E3D B1EA 7F9A B96E BF7D 9CB2 9B16

Contact Peter Aldhous at peter.aldhous@buzzfeed.com.

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