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Climate Change and Disease

Union of Concerned Scientists, World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

In this activity, students research the relationship between hosts, parasites, and vectors for common vector-borne diseases (VBDs) and evaluate how climate change could affect the spread of disease.

Activity takes one 45-minute class period. Computer with internet access necessary.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
High School: 1 Performance Expectation, 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 5 Cross Cutting Concepts, 8 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Climate's role in habitats ranges and adaptation of species to climate changes
About Teaching Principle 3
Other materials addressing 3a
Human health and well-being will be affected to different degrees from the impacts from climate change
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7f

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:A) Organisms, populations, and communities
Other materials addressing:
A) Organisms, populations, and communities.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:C) Systems and connections
Other materials addressing:
C) Systems and connections.

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • What other factors beside climate change may impact and perhaps be more important in addressing diseases?
  • CDC web resource is authoritative and a good starting point.
  • Educators may want to teach critical web surfing skills as students branch out from here. Be cautious about not assuming a particular outcome or view on organisms and climate change as this is a complex issue that is still evolving as the research progresses.
  • Create additional organizational tools for students as they research and listen to peer presentations, perhaps using the three perspectives suggested.
  • A jigsaw approach might be effective when regrouping the students.
  • Epstein article, while older, is still very relevant.
  • You may want to link the IPCC projections with the knowledge students have gained about their organisms to show how future populations of organisms may change with climate change.

About the Science

  • Students investigate how climate change can affect diseases worldwide.
  • Educator needs to be aware that not all diseases will spread with a warming climate - detailed research into each disease is necessary.
  • Links to many websites are provided for students to find information.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Includes extensive background information for teachers and students.
  • Graphic organizer for climate change provided.
  • Additional graphic organizers needed for student research to help students stay on task and record key information.
  • Many resources are provided for student research.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • All materials are ready to use.
  • Extensive directions for teachers are included.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

Audubon website link is broken but an alternate address is http://web4.audubon.org/bird/wnv/WNVwhatsnew.htm

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

High School

Performance Expectations: 1

HS-LS4-5: Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in: (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 3

HS-ESS2.D1:The foundation for Earth’s global climate systems is the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, as well as its reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems, and this energy’s re-radiation into space.

HS-ESS2.D4:Current models predict that, although future regional climate changes will be complex and varied, average global temperatures will continue to rise. The outcomes predicted by global climate models strongly depend on the amounts of human-generated greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere each year and by the ways in which these gases are absorbed by the ocean and biosphere.

HS-LS4.C4:Changes in the physical environment, whether naturally occurring or human induced, have thus contributed to the expansion of some species, the emergence of new distinct species as populations diverge under different conditions, and the decline–and sometimes the extinction–of some species.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 5

Cause and effect, Scale, Proportion and Quantity, Stability and Change

HS-C2.1:Empirical evidence is required to differentiate between cause and correlation and make claims about specific causes and effects.

HS-C2.2:Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system.

HS-C3.1:The significance of a phenomenon is dependent on the scale, proportion, and quantity at which it occurs.

HS-C7.2:Change and rates of change can be quantified and modeled over very short or very long periods of time. Some system changes are irreversible.

HS-C7.3:Feedback (negative or positive) can stabilize or destabilize a system.

Science and Engineering Practices: 8

Asking Questions and Defining Problems, Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Engaging in Argument from Evidence, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

HS-P1.2:ask questions that arise from examining models or a theory, to clarify and/or seek additional information and relationships.

HS-P3.5:Make directional hypotheses that specify what happens to a dependent variable when an independent variable is manipulated.

HS-P4.1:Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution.

HS-P6.1:Make a quantitative and/or qualitative claim regarding the relationship between dependent and independent variables.

HS-P6.4:Apply scientific reasoning, theory, and/or models to link evidence to the claims to assess the extent to which the reasoning and data support the explanation or conclusion.

HS-P7.1:Compare and evaluate competing arguments or design solutions in light of currently accepted explanations, new evidence, limitations (e.g., trade-offs), constraints, and ethical issues

HS-P8.1:Critically read scientific literature adapted for classroom use to determine the central ideas or conclusions and/or to obtain scientific and/or technical information to summarize complex evidence, concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.

HS-P8.4: Evaluate the validity and reliability of and/or synthesize multiple claims, methods, and/or designs that appear in scientific and technical texts or media reports, verifying the data when possible.

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