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Karine Lacroix, Matthew Goldberg


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


Science, English Language Arts, Mathematics

Resource Types

  • Article
  • Data

Regional Focus

North America, United States

Should It Be Called "Natural Gas" or "Methane"?

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  • This article shows the effect of word choice on people's perceptions and feelings about natural gas compared to methane.
  • The data shows how people's opinions change based on political party and different wording including natural gas, natural methane gas, methane, and methane gas.
Teaching Tips


  • The article and data describe an experiment that is easy to follow and analyze.
  • The article can be a significant component of a media literacy, advertising, or literacy lesson.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should have a basic knowledge of fossil fuels and climate change. 


  • Students can analyze why they think the word "natural" influenced people's perceptions regardless of their political party.
  • Teachers can preview essential vocabulary like methane and greenhouse gas.
  • ELL students can be given the article beforehand to read.
  • After reading the article, students can experiment to see if other terms, such as global warming or climate change, carry different perceptions and feelings.
  • Other resources related to these topics include this interactive map and data on global methane emissions and this video on the importance of reducing methane emissions.
Scientist Notes
Methane is a major greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide. It constitutes 60-90% of natural gas, but carbon dioxide is mostly caused by human activities. From the randomized sample, respondents had a positive feeling about natural methane gas compared to methane and methane gas, but the degree of contribution is the same. All have the same molecules. Methane contributes more to global warming in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, but the good thing is that methane has a shorter residence time. It takes about 9 years for a molecule of methane to last in the atmosphere, but it takes about 100 years for a molecule of carbon dioxide to last in the atmosphere. This is the reason scientists give more attention to studying carbon dioxide than any other greenhouse gas. This resource is recommended for educators to teach students of this grade level to understand the underlying perception of methane gas and its contributions to global warming.

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

  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.6 Analyze the author's purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text.
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.10 By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend literary nonfiction at the high end of the grades 11-CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 3: Gathering and Evaluating Sources
      • D3.2.9-12 Evaluate the credibility of a source by examining how experts value the source.
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