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Responding to Climate Change

King's Centre for Visualization in Science

This is the ninth and final lesson in a series of lessons about climate change. This lesson focuses on the various activities that humans can do to mitigate the effects of climate change. This includes information on current and predicted CO2 emission scenarios across the globe, alternative energy sources, and how people are currently responding to climate change. Importantly, this lesson is motivating in showing students that they can make a difference.

Activity takes about two 50-minute class periods.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Reducing human vulnerability to the impacts of climate change depends not only upon our ability to understand climate science, but also upon our ability to integrate that knowledge into human society. Decisions that involve Earth’s climate must be made with an understanding of the complex inter-connections among the physical and biological components of the Earth system as well as the consequences of such decisions on social, economic, and cultural systems.
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A combination of strategies is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The most immediate strategy is conservation of oil, gas, and coal, which we rely on as fuels for most of our transportation, heating, cooling, agriculture, and electricity. Short-term strategies involve switching from carbon-intensive to renewable energy sources, which also requires building new infrastructure for alternative energy sources. Long-term strategies involve innovative research and a fundamental change in the way humans use energy.
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Humans can adapt to climate change by reducing their vulnerability to its impacts. Actions such as moving to higher ground to avoid rising sea levels, planting new crops that will thrive under new climate conditions, or using new building technologies represent adaptation strategies. Adaptation often requires financial investment in new or enhanced research, technology, and infrastructure.
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Actions taken by individuals, communities, states, and countries all influence climate. Practices and policies followed in homes, schools, businesses, and governments can affect climate. Climate-related decisions made by one generation can provide opportunities as well as limit the range of possibilities open to the next generation. Steps toward reducing the impact of climate change may influence the present generation by providing other benefits such as improved public health infrastructure and sustainable built environments.
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Energy Literacy

Social and technological innovation affects the amount of energy used by human society.
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6.5 Social and technological innovation.
Behavior and design affect the amount of energy used by human society.
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6.6 Behavior and design.

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

About the Science

  • The opening carbon footprint learning tool allows users to change CO2 emission around the world. Users are then able to run a model to visually examine how these CO2 emissions impact carbon levels in the ocean, the atmosphere, the biosphere, and the soil.
  • In the carbon stabilization wedge learning tool, users are able to visualize how altering lifestyles and increasing alternative energy sources can reduce emissions.
  • No sources are provided for the data used to develop these learning tools.
  • Comments from expert scientist: It is a very good outline of the role of carbon-dioxide in the climate system, and organizes ways to mitigate the carbon footprint. I liked the CO2 footprint and Carbon stabilization learning tools in general, as they provide a hands-on approach to the issues involved.

About the Pedagogy

  • This resource does a great job at encouraging students that there are solutions to help mitigate the effects of climate change and to reduce GHG emissions.
  • Questions posed throughout the lesson encourage students to think critically about potential solutions and difficulties in implementing those solutions.
  • Two learning tools or applets - carbon footprint and stabilization wedges - engage students in how their choices impact the climate system.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Teachers work alongside students throughout lesson.
  • No separate guide for educators.
  • All the applets run smoothly and greatly enhance the final levels of understanding for students.

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