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Frank Capra, Bell Telephone Science Hour, Open Source, Systems, Science, Solutions


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Social Studies, Chemistry, Earth and Space Sciences, History

Resource Type

  • Videos, 1 minute, 55 seconds

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States, Polar Regions

Climate Change 1958: The Bell Telephone Science Hour

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  • This video provides historical context about how long we have known about the negative effects of global warming. 
  • The historic footage from 1958 presents the knowledge at that time about global warming from the emissions of greenhouse gases, particularly from burning fossil fuels. 
Teaching Tips


  • This video includes an animation of sea level rise if all of the ice sheets on Earth melted and how that would affect the United States.
  • It lets students see that there was a scientific understanding about the ability of human actions to cause global warming many decades ago.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Although scientists understood how global warming happened and that it was happening, there was still uncertainty about the pace, feedbacks, and extent of global warming that would occur.
  • Teachers could also show The Cost of Carbon video for more recent references and this PBS video is a comprehensive option to show afterwards that also addresses skepticism and some misconceptions.


  • Teachers could use this video as a conversation starter about the history of atmospheric science and climate change.
  • You could have students research and present the recent data that supports the comments made by the scientist in the video clip.
  • Students in social studies, ethics, and economics classes could discuss the reasons why action was not taken earlier to prevent global warming and climate change.
  • Have students research which IPCC report first states that climate change is due to human activity and discuss why science always has levels of confidence indicated instead of just making claims of fact.
Scientist Notes
The short movie clip gives a feel of the important phenomena of global warming and climate change being perceived in 1958. It focuses on how increasing atmospheric CO2 through industrial processes will absorb more heat and raise atmospheric temperatures.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-4. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.
      • MS-ESS3-5. Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
  • English Language Arts
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • SL.II.6.2 Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.
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