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Changing Planet: Infectious Diseases

NBC Learn, Windows to the Universe

This video illustrates conditions under which two infectious diseases - cholera and dengue fever - flourish, and how climate change is likely to exacerbate those conditions.
Note: you may need to scroll down the Changing Planet video page to get to this video.

Video length: 4:56 min.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas
High School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

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

  • Note: you may need to scroll down the Changing Planet video page to get to this video.
  • Watch video in full screen mode to limit distractions from ads below video.
  • The link between climate change and disease is not as well developed in the video as one might like. Recommend using the associated lesson plan on the website to make this connection clearer.

About the Science

  • The first half of the video focuses on cholera (bacteria infection from contaminated water) and the second half focuses on dengue fever (virus-based disease spread by mosquitoes).
  • Climate change is only one of many variables that relate to disease vectors. Learners should be aware of the complexities of diseases to avoid oversimplifying the topic.
  • Comments from Expert Scientists:
    Scientific Strengths: It features outstanding scientists by reputation in the field. It has good images. Language is generally appropriate for high school students. It introduces students to important, complex topics.

    - Needs additional discussion of the linkages between climate change, cholera, and dengue including Colwell's own work on Sea Surface Temp and Salinity and cholera.
    - Note that it was stated that in Bangladesh and Cambodia the under 5 mortality rates can approach 200 deaths per 1000 births. There is a correction that in 2011, when this was filmed, the mortality rates were around 45, and they haven't been close to 200 since at least 1990. https://data.unicef.org/country/bgd/. Colwell may have been referring to subpopulations, but this was not so stated.

About the Pedagogy

  • A lesson plan for this video was written by the Windows to the Universe project, and is available here http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/changing_planet/infectious_disease.html.
  • The lesson plan is also accessible by clicking on the curved arrow in the upper right of the video and expanding the 'links' section.
  • Many of these diseases are difficult to treat or prevent medically, so it is important that we understand how they might be affected by climate change so we can predict and prepare for them.
  • It is suggested that students are provided with additional material about how scientists are actually preventing disease or saving people.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The music accompanying the video is melodramatic.
  • Low resolution video may be grainy or pixelated when projected on a large screen.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

MS-ESS3.D1:Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.

MS-LS4.D1:Changes in biodiversity can influence humans’ resources, such as food, energy, and medicines, as well as ecosystem services that humans rely on—for example, water purification and recycling.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

HS-ESS3.D1:Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts.

HS-LS4.D1:Humans depend on the living world for the resources and other benefits provided by biodiversity. But human activity is also having adverse impacts on biodiversity through overpopulation, overexploitation, habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, and climate change. Thus sustaining biodiversity so that ecosystem functioning and productivity are maintained is essential to supporting and enhancing life on Earth. Sustaining biodiversity also aids humanity by preserving landscapes of recreational or inspirational value.

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