Analyzing Fuel Carbon Footprints: Gasoline, Ethanol and Electricity


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Burning gasoline, a fossil fuel, in cars produces the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide contributes to global climate change. We have several options besides gasoline for powering our cars – electricity and biofuels like ethanol. In this data dive, students interpret and analyze data on the greenhouse gas emissions from producing and using different fuels for vehicles. In the process, they apply the concept of a life cycle assessment to tally environmental impacts for each step of fuel production and use. Based upon this analysis, students develop an argument based on evidence for the fuel that is most environmentally sustainable.