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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»

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 Content

  • 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.
Entered the Collection: March 2019 Last Reviewed: June 2016

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