Narrative: Extreme Weather
Slide 08: Typhoon Haiyan + SST Animated
Narrative: Extreme Weather
Slide 08: Typhoon Haiyan


Watch as Typhoon Haiyan forms, over the warmer ocean waters. As we saw previously, hurricanes and typhoons form in warm water.

Now consider this: What would happen if the ocean got warmer? (Pause)

As we burn fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas, we add more carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere.

Some carbon dioxide, or CO2, is needed for life processes. We can call this regular CO2. But CO2 is not just something that plants breathe in and we breathe out. It’s also something that gets put into the atmosphere when we burn any kind of fossil fuel for transportation or manufacturing. These activities are putting a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere and ocean. We can call this rampant CO2 because there is so much of it and it’s getting out of control.

As this rampant carbon dioxide builds up, it acts like a blanket, trapping heat inside. This trapped heat warms our ocean and atmosphere, knocking nature out of balance and causing disruptions or shifts in systems on our planet. 

Our warmer ocean pumps more moisture and heat into the air. This provides the fuel for more intense hurricanes. 

Optional materials are available in this section.

Notes and Rationale:

Typhoons and hurricanes are the same thing, they are just called different names in different regions.

This section introduces carbon dioxide emissions as the main mechanism of climate change. The way people understand the cause of a problem has a major influence on the way they think about solutions, so effectively framing the role of CO2 is essential.

Two tested explanatory techniques are used here to help the public understand and remember this critical information, which is typically lacking for ordinary Americans.

  • By using the distinction between Regular and Rampant CO2, you can help your visitors easily add to the knowledge they probably already have about carbon dioxide—that it plays a role in human respiration and photosynthesis. The distinction allows them to hold the newer, counterintuitive information (that CO2 can also play a harmful role) alongside existing concepts.
  • The second Explanatory Metaphor is Heat-Trapping Blanket. This easy-to-grasp analogy focuses the public on the key characteristic of carbon dioxide: it traps heat. Use a hand gesture to mimic the blanket covering the globe when you introduce this metaphor. 

IMAGE: Typhoon Haiyan, also known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda, with sea surface temperatures. Made landfall with sustained winds up to 195 mph. Look for it to form on 11/4–11/5, north of Australia and Paupa New Guinea. Consider using the country names overlay to help orient guests to the Philippines. On 11/6, it passes over Palau. 

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