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Climate Change Explainers
Climate Change Explainers

Get answers to questions about climate change science, solutions, and related topics, written by scientists and experts via the MIT Climate Portal.

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How does the environmental impact of mining for clean energy metals compare to mining for coal, oil and gas?
Can we use the pipelines and power plants we have now to transport and burn hydrogen, or do we need new infrastructure?
Could we help plants remove more CO2 from the atmosphere by harvesting them and storing their carbon?
What are the best policies to transition home heating away from oil and gas?
Public Transportation
Why isn’t my kid learning about climate change in their high school classroom?
How much is captured CO2 worth?
Net Zero Emissions
Are electric vehicles definitely better for the climate than gas-powered cars?
Renewable Energy
Would stopping plastic pollution help with climate change? How do we do it?
Climate Targets
Does the concrete needed to build renewable energy cancel out the benefits?
Why did the IPCC choose 2°C as the goal for limiting global warming?
Will mining the resources needed for clean energy cause problems for the environment?
What is “sustainability”? Is it the same thing as taking action on climate change?
Do we have the technology to go carbon neutral today?
The Paris Agreement
Why have I heard that eating meat is bad for the climate?
What method of waste disposal is best for the climate?
Why don’t we use tidal power more?
If cities require new buildings to use 100% electric heat, will that raise or lower their greenhouse gas emissions?
How are countries held accountable under the Paris Agreement?
Wind Energy
How can we reduce the climate footprint of the suburbs?
How does the climate impact of cross-laminated timber compare to steel or concrete?
How much does natural gas contribute to climate change through CO2 emissions when the fuel is burned, and how much through methane leaks?
Electric Vehicles
What can cities and towns do to lower extreme temperatures?
How much carbon dioxide would we have to remove from the air to counteract climate change?
Enhanced Rock Weathering
How clean is green hydrogen?
What makes methane a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide?
Mitigation and Adaptation
How many wind turbines would it take to equal the energy output of one typical nuclear reactor?

Investing and Climate Change
How do national governments calculate their share of greenhouse gas emissions from international air travel?
Will upgrading our homes to run entirely on electricity make us more vulnerable to blackouts?
How efficient is carbon capture and storage?
Can we cool the Earth by covering more of it with snow?
Cities and Climate Change
The Electric Grid
Climate-Resilient Infrastructure
Carbon Capture
Nuclear Energy
Mining and Metals
Energy Storage
Which is more likely: electric airplanes or hydrogen-powered airplanes?
Carbon Pricing
Is there a place in the atmosphere where carbon dioxide is concentrated, and if so, can we remove it?
How much CO2 is emitted by manufacturing batteries?
How are gases in the atmosphere analyzed and measured?
Is there enough titanium to support the growth of electric vehicle production in the US?
Is there a danger that pumping liquid carbon dioxide underground could have the same negative impacts as fracking?
Freight Transportation
Could Snowpiercer actually happen?
Can taking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and splitting it into carbon and oxygen help stem the tide of rising greenhouse gases?
Fusion Energy
Do wind turbines kill birds?
Is it true that wind turbines don’t work in the winter?
Solar Energy
How well can electric vehicle batteries be recycled?
Why have electric vehicles won out over hydrogen cars (so far)?
How do we know how long carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere?
How is lithium mined?
If a fossil fuel power plant uses carbon capture and storage, what percent of the energy it makes goes to the CCS equipment?

Why does burning coal generate more CO2 than oil or gas?
Will climate change make weather forecasting less accurate?
What is the concentration of CFCs in the atmosphere, and how much do they contribute to global warming?
Greenhouse Gases
Extreme Heat
Climate Models
Don't plants do better in environments with very high CO2?
Climate Sensitivity
Radiative Forcing
Will climate feedback loops push us past a “point of no return”?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The National Climate Assessment
How much carbon dioxide does the Earth naturally absorb?
When scientists say the Earth has warmed by 1° Celsius, which parts of the planet are being measured?
How do greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere?
Why do some people call climate change an “existential threat”?
Why do we compare methane to carbon dioxide over a 100-year timeframe? Are we underrating the importance of methane emissions?
What is the ideal level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for human life?
How much is a ton of carbon dioxide?
Has there been climate change before?
Should we be worried about Earth getting warmer if we cut coal power?
How is climate change affecting the weather today?
How can such a small amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere—only around 420 parts per million—cause so much warming?
What would happen to the climate if we had much lower CO2 levels?
Why do we blame climate change on carbon dioxide, when water vapor is a much more common greenhouse gas?
Does global warming affect the coldest days or the hottest days more?