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Ridgewood High School AP Environmental Science students Test their own vehicles for Carbon Dioxide and Air Particulate Matter Emissions

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photos courtesy of Ridgewood schools

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Ridgewood High School  AP Environmental Science students tested their own vehicles for carbon dioxide and air particulate matter emissions by using filter paper and bromothymol blue indicator solution. Although they found that many factors contribute to the end results, they found that newer technologies and modern emissions regulations have helped newer cars emit less carbon than older cars.

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The theory being that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from cars are a significant contributor to climate change. When cars burn fuel, they release CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which trap heat and warm the planet.

The Earth has experienced a number of periods over the past million years in which large continental ice sheets have covered much of the northern hemisphere. These ice ages are associated with a large drop in global temperatures – 4C or more below today’s levels – with much larger changes over land and in the high latitudes.

These ice ages are triggered and ended by slow changes in the Earth’s orbit and changing atmospheric concentrations of CO2 were also thought to play a key role in driving both cooling during the onset of ice ages and warming at their end.

The global average temperature was around 4C cooler during the last ice age than it is today and CO2 is thought to be a “control knob” for the Earth’s climate.

However ice-age cycles are primarily driven by periodic changes in the Earth’s orbit. Three distinct orbital cycles – called Milankovitch cycles  interact to change the distribution of incoming solar energy in ways that can dramatically affect the Earth’s climate.

Changes in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations – and, in particular, CO2 – play a large role in the development of cold conditions during ice ages and warm conditions during interglacial periods. In this case, CO2 is not the immediate cause of ice ages; rather, it serves as a feedback to amplify changes initiated by orbital variations.

There is a well-known correlation between temperatures and CO2 concentrations over glacial periods. The figure below shows both temperatures (red line) – reconstructed from hydrogen isotope analysis – and atmospheric CO2 concentrations (blue line) from air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice over the past 800,000 years.

3 thoughts on “Ridgewood High School AP Environmental Science students Test their own vehicles for Carbon Dioxide and Air Particulate Matter Emissions

  1. Did they test the electric generating plants and waste disposal of their electric batteries for environmental impact or is this just a propaganda exercise rather than a science experiment?

    1. Not propaganda… indoctrination of the students (aka children)

  2. Sounds pretty interesting, they should take a short drive over to the village fleet building and check out all those vehicles. Because half of them keep on breaking down.

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