Climate Change and Probability


Today is Blog Action Day 2009, billed as the largest, single,  social event on the web.  This years topic is “Climate Change”, a topic I have keen interest and passionate concern about. I first heard the term ‘global warming’  twenty years ago, as an undergraduate at LaTrobe University. Back then, the research was just beginning and the results weren’t conclusive – scientists are cautious by nature. Now, ‘climate change’ is a term we hear in the media every day and an issue being addressed at every level of government and in most private enterprises.

“New Scientist” has produced an excellent page to help you understand the facts of climate change at: “Instant Expert: Climate Change”.  Since the Earth Summit in 1992 and Kyoto in 1997, many countries have agreed to limit greenhouse gas emissions, in an attempt to reduce the enhanced greenhouse effect. In 2007 the IPCC announced that global climate change is “very likely” to have a human cause. In 2009, many thousands of scientists around the world agree that an increase in temperature of more than 2 degrees Celcius will have catastrophic effects on agriculture, biodiversity and water resources, as well as increasing the frequency of extreme weather events. The east coast of Australia experienced such an extreme weather event a few weeks ago, when an estimated 140,000 tonnes of soil per hour was collected from central Australia and dumped on the coast and offshore. This dust actually had an ocean-fertilizing effect – adding nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphoros to the ocean that enabled increased phytoplankton growth. It has been estimated that an extra eight million tonnes of CO2 was captured by this phytoplankton. Mother Nature fighting back?


Probability panorama

Which of the objects above could you use in a probability experiment to simulate the birth of a boy or girl? How would you calculate the theoretical probability of three girls in a row? Draw a tree diagram to show all the possible combinations of three children.

Go to the Probability Voicethread at and add your answers to the problems shown.

Post a comment

You may use the following HTML:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>