Climate Solutions

Climate news quiz: Space cooling and green giving

Test your knowledge about the ways the climate is changing — and what we can do about it

All right: Time to see if you’ve been paying attention to Washington Post coverage of the people, organizations and governments trying to mitigate climate change, found on our Climate Solutions page. If you have, this quiz should be an easy A.

1. Aaswath Raman is a scientist who has tapped into a law of physics that he says can help bring the chill of space to help cool things on Earth. What is this law called?

Answer: B. Radiative sky cooling, also known as night sky cooling, takes place when an object on Earth emits thermal heat through infrared radiation into space. Ancient people who lived in dry desert climates relied on this property when they set bowls of water outside overnight, to find they were frozen in the morning, even though the air temperature had not dropped below freezing. Raman and colleagues figured out a way to allow daytime sky cooling.

2. As developing nations become more affluent, air-conditioning units are proliferating. At the same time, the planet is growing hotter. By 2050, demand for air-conditioning is expected to:

Answer: C. According to the International Energy Agency, demand for air-conditioning is expected to more than triple by 2050, consuming as much energy as today’s use in China and India combined. Cooling is the fastest-growing use of energy in buildings. This has implications for global warming, because hydrofluorocarbons used as coolants and the fossil fuels burned to power the units are major contributors to global climate change, associated with about 7 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.

3. Raman used his theories to develop panels from specialized material that have some surprising qualities. What are they?

Answer: D. All of the above.

4. How is Raman’s invention being applied in real life?

Answer B. SkyCool panels have been installed on the roof of the Grocery Outlet in Stockton, Calif., where they are helping to cool the deli case, dairy aisle, freezer section and backroom storage, reducing the amount of electricity needed for refrigeration.

5. Plenty of inventors have ideas to mitigate climate change, but many lack funding to realize those projects. Philanthropic support for climate work in the United States has been on the upswing in recent years. Between 2015 and 2019, philanthropic giving to climate mitigation has increased by about:

Answer: C. U.S. philanthropic donations to mitigate climate change nearly doubled over the past five years, to at least $1.6 billion in 2019, according to research by the ClimateWorks Foundation.

6. In Denmark, a major supermarket chain is offering shoppers what at the checkout counter?

Answer: D. COOP DK, the Danish cooperative that controls one-third of the country’s grocery market, has created an app that customers can consult at checkout that provides an estimate of the carbon emissions stemming from the production of the groceries in their carts. The grocer says it is trying to nudge consumers to cut back on meat and dairy, two food categories that produce the most greenhouse gases linked to climate change.

7. Since the new tool was rolled out in June, about what percent of COOP DK’s 1.2 million app users have checked their footprint?

Answer: B. About 20 percent of shoppers have used it, according to executives at the supermarket chain.

8. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, and emissions from the world’s 1.5 billion cows are a major source. What’s the mechanism by which cows emit most of the methane they produce?

Answer: A. Methane is produced in a cow’s rumen, or first stomach, as it digests grass and other fibrous plants, and then the cow releases it through burping. About 95 percent of the methane emitted by a cow comes from burping, while about 5 percent is a result of flatulence.

9. Scientists have discovered a powerful additive to feed that can block or reduce methane from cows. What is it?

Answer: D. When fed to cows, a particular kind of seaweed, asparagopsis, contains a compound that blocks the enzyme that produces methane during the digestive process. As much as 98 percent of methane is prevented from forming, scientists say.

10. What effect does this additive have on dairy or beef products?

Answer: D. Farmers say that adding small amounts of asparagopsis to animal feed does not affect the taste, texture or quality of dairy or beef products.

0 to 3 questions correct

Climate novice: You still have a lot to learn about climate change. But that’s okay: We’ve got you covered. Have a question? Ask us here.

4 to 7 questions correct

Climate curious: Hey, not bad! You know a thing or two about climate change. But there’s still more to learn, and we’ve got you covered. Have a question? Ask us here.

8 to 10 questions correct

Climate expert: Well done! You’re super climate-literate. You probably already know that one of the most important things you can do as an individual to combat climate change is to spread the word. Go ahead: Brag a little, share this quiz with your friends, and find out who knows the most about climate change.

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