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Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Credit: HBO
23 April 2015 16:20

10 of the best YouTube videos on climate change

Sophie Yeo


Sophie Yeo

23.04.2015 | 4:20pm
Science communication10 of the best YouTube videos on climate change

YouTube turns 10 today. To celebrate, Carbon Brief has compiled a list of 10 of some of the best videos about climate change featured on the site. Featuring comedians, scientists and some very slick graphics, these hits have helped make the internet a more entertaining and informative place to learn about climate science and policy.

So, here they are (in no particular order):

A statistically representative climate debate

In US show Last Week Tonight, comedian John Oliver takes the media to task for creating a false balance in the debate on climate change. To more accurately represent the scientific consensus, he invites 97 scientists and three sceptics into the studio, to comedic effect. The video has gone viral, racking up over five million hits on YouTube to date.

NASA’s year in the life of CO2

One year of data translates into swirling clouds of carbon dioxide in this video by NASA. Using an ultra high resolution computer model, the visualisation shows how carbon dioxide spreads across the planet, fluctuating across time and space.

Climate negotiations in 83 seconds

The UN climate change negotiations have been taking place for more than 20 years. With the help of bright colours and some chirpy music, this video by Norwegian research centre CICERO explains them in 83 seconds.

David Mitchell’s soapbox

Climate change is among one of the many topics to attract the ire of comedian David Mitchell. The target of his frustration is environmentalists who claim that quitting fossil fuels will be fun. Tidying the planet is less a fantastic adventure and more like tidying your room, he says: annoying but necessary.

What’s the worst that could happen?

A video of American high school teacher Greg Craven using a whiteboard to explain climate risk has proven one of the biggest YouTube hit on climate change to date. The video has almost seven million views, with its success prompting Craven to shoot a sequel and write a book.

TED talk by NASA’s Gavin Schmidt

Climate scientist Gavin Schmidt takes to the stage to explain climate models. He lays out how they work, what they do and why they are the best option available to scientists trying to predict the future climate of the planet.

Bitches be crying about a carbon tax

Without leaving behind their lab coats, scientists cross over into the world of rap music to explain why it’s indefensible to claim the world is not warming. It’s not the only time that scientists have adopted unusual methods to explain their work. In this video , Adam Levy turns a gin and tonic into a lesson in sea level rise.

Climategate debunked

With gentle sarcasm, Peter Hadfield explains why the “scandal” of the leaked emails from climate scientists at the University of East Anglia were not actually as scandalous as a lot of overexcited sceptics made out. His account, potholer54, also debunks a number of other climate myths, and has over 90,000 subscribers.

300 years of fossil fuels in 300 seconds

From Samuel Newcomen’s coal burning steam engine to the modern challenges of climate change, this video by the Post Carbon Institute is a slick explainer of how fossil fuels were developed, and why they now need to be left behind.

13 misconceptions about climate change

YouTube has been used by many to debunk myths surrounding climate change – but it can also be used to spread them. Science communicator Derek Muller comes face-to-face with the internet rumour mill (himself in a YouTube tee-shirt) and explains where he has got the facts wrong on climate science.

Further honourable mentions go to the climate scientists who are using YouTube to help more people to access and make sense of their work, such as Andrew Dessler’s explanation of climate sensitivity, or this introduction to permafrost .

But these are just some of Carbon Brief’s favourites, and we welcome you to leave your own suggestions for the climate change videos that everyone should be watching.

Main image: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

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