Lesson 6H: Introduction to Global Climate Change

Lesson 6H: Introduction to Global Climate Change    Grade Level:  9 – 12  Time Length: 2-3 classes

Cross Curricular/Cross Lessons: 5A: The Modern Era; 6D: That’s a Wrap; 6F: How Do Others See Us?; 6G: What Might Have Been

PDE Academic Standards: 1.1.11; 1.2.11; 1.6.11; 3.3.10.A2, 4.1.10.B; 4,3.12; 4.8.12; 7.1.12; 7.3.12; 7.4.12



–Students will make a judgment about the causes and impacts of global climate change.

–Students will understand the potential impacts of climate change on physical and biological systems.

–Students will discuss potential solutions to climate change.



Seeking the Greatest Good

Science Learning’s carbon cycle diagram:


Union of Concern Scientists climate change PowerPoint presentation: http://www.ucsusa.org/gulf/gulf-1-climate.ppt

Union of Concerned Scientists Hot Map: http://www.climatehotmap.org/

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 4th Assessment Report on Climate Change: http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/syr/en/main.html


Anticipatory Set:  (2min)      “Moment of Zen”       Discuss the quote as it relates to both students and the topic.
“Only when the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is             sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.

–Alanis Obomsawin


1. Show and discuss the carbon cycle with your students, using Science Learning’s carbon cycle diagram.

Ensure the students understand how carbon is sequestered:

-By the ocean              -In soil                         -In plants/trees
2. Use the Union of Concerned Scientists climate change PowerPoint to introduce the concept of climate change, its causes, and impacts to your class.  Suggested reading for advanced classes: Chapters 1 and 2 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 4th Assessment Report on Climate change

3. After giving the climate change presentation, discuss the following questions as a group:

-What is climate change?

-What are the primary factors causing climate change?

-What is the proof that climate change is due to human activities?

-What is the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change?

-Describe several observed effects of climate change.

-Describe several impacts climate change is having on physical systems.

-Describe several impacts climate change is having on biological systems.

-How might climate change impact human health?

-How do you think we can reduce the rate of climate change?

4. Group projects:

Break students in groups of 3-5 and ask each group to choose a hot spot of their choice on the Union of Concerned Scientists Hot Map, making sure no two groups use the same hotspot.

5. Ask the groups to read the entire hot spot description (making sure they know to click on details to open an expanded webpage for their particular hot spot.  Ask them to write answer the following questions

-Where is your hot spot?

-What is the climate-change related issue for your hot spot?

-Explain how a changing climate is impacting your hot spot.

-Which of the following is impacted: humans, biological systems, physical systems? Describe the impact for each      that applies.

6, After students complete the assignment, discuss this question:
-Does climate change only impact the environment?

7. Watch “Forest health-Human health” section of Chapter VI of Seeking the Greatest Good. Discuss the following questions as a class:

-How do trees sequester and store carbon?

-How is carbon sequestration connected to climate change?

-What happens to the carbon when trees are cut and processed into wooden products?

-Explain one of the primary reasons described in the documentary that private landowners sell forest lands?

-How does The Pinchot Institute for Conservation’s “Forest health-Human health” program work?

-How does “Forest health-Human health” help keep carbon sequestered and how does this impact climate change?

-How does “Forest health-Human health” help private landowners?

-How does “Forest health-Human health” help the general public?

Reiterate the importance of finding conservation solutions that work not only for the environment, but also the humans that inhabit that environment


6. Discuss with your class how individual students can reduce their carbon footprint.  For ideas, visit myfootprint.org:



Extension: Media activity – poll and platform comparison **It is strongly suggested that this activity coincide with Lesson 5A: The Modern Era

–Have students research the Earth’s temperature over the last 150 years as well as other facts relating to Global Warming and Climate Change.  Host a debate on whether human activity is the cause of the weather phenomena we have been experiencing.  Have them also research proposed solutions.

–Ask the students to correspond each solution and opinion to various political parties, comparing party platforms and opinion polls as they change over time.  Create a chart or graph illustrating these comparisons and changes

–Compare public opinion with the public political and media debate and find any correlations between the two.


Extension: Corner of the room activity – research, choose – debate – re-choose      

**It is strongly suggested that this activity coincide with Lesson 5A: The Modern Era

Based on their research, ask the students to sort themselves into a corner of the room – one that climate change exists but naturally, one that climate change exists due to man’s actions, one that climate change does not exist at all.

— Debate for a time and then allow the students to change their corner based on the first part of the debate

–In their new groups, have the students create their own proposals that may or may not involve government intervention and should include the most effective way to address these issues as they have learned from the film and the previous lessons.

–Have the class vote for their favorite proposal.  Some aspects of the winning proposal should include aspects the students can do at home, school, or advocate for in their community.  All effort should be made for the students to follow through with their chosen proposal.  Stress that they are the future of the conservation movement



Evaluation: Students will be evaluated on their responses during discussion following the climate change presentation and following the “Forest health-Human health” discussion, as well as their written hot spot answers.

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