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Unit 13: Looking Forward: Our Global Experiment // Interactive Labs

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Carbon Lab (Units 1-3, 13)
Throughout this course, the carbon cycle is featured as one of the most important planetary systems. This lab uses a robust model of the carbon cycle to give you an intuitive sense for how the system works.  It also allows you to experiment with how human inputs to the cycle might change global outcomes to the year 2100 and beyond. One especially relevant human impact is the increase in atmospheric CO2 levels. Between 1850 and today, atmospheric concentrations have risen from 287 ppm (parts per million) to over 380 ppm – a level higher than any known on Earth in more than 30 million years (see Unit 12 to find out how scientists measure ancient atmospheric carbon levels). You will experiment with the human factors that contribute to this rise, and see how different inputs to the carbon cycle might affect concentrations of the greenhouse gas CO2.launch lab

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Demographics Lab (Units 5, 13)
Baby boom. Overpopulation. Birth dearth. These terms all refer to human population growth, and can conjure images of environmental and economic peril. Which are real issues, and should they matter to us?

Demographers like the US Census Bureau make population projections based on mathematical models. In this lab you will explore a fully functional simulation, based on real demographic data. You will examine important demographic trends through a series of guided lessons. After completing these lessons you will understand the factors that control human population growth, recognize the sea-change in human history that is the "demographic transition," and gain a sense of how population demographics has a very human impact in all areas of our habitable planet. launch lab

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Ecology Lab (Units 4, 7, 9, 13)
As you learned in Unit 4, ecosystems are a complex and delicate balancing game. The addition or removal of any species affects many other species that might compete for or provide food. In this lab you will get a chance to "build your own" ecosystem, and explore the effects of these interrelationships. launch lab

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Energy Lab (Units 10, 12, 13)
In today's world, with populations and economies booming, the demand for energy is rising. A portfolio of different energy sources is used to meet this demand. Since there is no perfectly clean, safe, and inexpensive source of energy, the composition of this portfolio involves tradeoffs of safety, cost, and—of increasing concern—emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 (if you haven't done the Carbon Cycle lab yet, we recommend you start there). In this lab, your challenge is to try to meet the world's projected energy demand by choosing from the available energy sources while keeping atmospheric CO2 under control and avoiding the particular limits and pitfalls associated with each energy source.

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