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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.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

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.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

The world contains a wide diversity of physical conditions, which creates a wide variety of environments: freshwater, marine, forest, desert, grassland, mountain, and others. In any particular environment, the growth and survival of organisms depend on the physical conditions
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

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 very complex issue that is still under much debate within the scientific community.
  • Create additional structures 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.
  • Many websites provided for students to use to find information.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Extensive background information for teacher and students.
  • Graphic organizer for climate change provided.
  • Additional graphic organizers needed for student research oral presentations to make sure students stay on task and record key information.
  • Many resources provided for student research.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • All material present ready to use.
  • Extensive directions for teacher.

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

Performance Expectations

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

HS-ESS2.D1: 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.

Science and Engineering Practices

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.

Cross-Cutting Concepts

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.

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