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Climate Change and Human Health

Dana Brown Haine, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

In this activity, students investigate the impacts of changing climatic conditions on human health and consider the benefits of climate mitigation and adaptation to human health.

This learning activity takes about two 50-minute class periods.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
High School: 4 Performance Expectations, 6 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 1 Cross Cutting Concept, 3 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Strategies of human adaptation to climate change
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
Other materials addressing GPf
Climate's role in habitats ranges and adaptation of species to climate changes
About Teaching Principle 3
Other materials addressing 3a
Climate impacts ecosystems and past species extinctions
About Teaching Principle 3
Other materials addressing 3c
Ecosystems on land and in the ocean have been and will continue to be disturbed by climate change
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7e
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

  • This activity is very robust in the content it presents and warrants taking the time to implement it in full.

About the Science

  • Activity addresses impacts of changing climatic conditions on human health - with emphasis on vulnerable populations. Benefits of climate mitigation and adaptation strategies on human health are related to specific climate drivers and health vulnerabilities.
  • Activity content draws from The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment (CHA, 2016), as well as the National Climate Assessment (2014).
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths:
    - The strength of these resources lie in the care that has been taken to cater to the needs of specific student audiences- clinical, public health, general science. In particular, I like that each of the audiences had different kinds of models that they were building that had relevance to their own field of study. excellent.
    - The Vector-borne Disease Module includes field opportunities for students to collect data using the NASA GLOBE Observer Mosquito Habitat Mapper, enabling place-based real data exploration. this is great. Accompanying slides are well done, are tuned to each specific lesson and include attributions as required.
    - Accompanying slides are well done, are tuned to each specific lesson and include attributions as required.

About the Pedagogy

  • Great use of a systems-thinking approach to learning.
  • Activity uses 5E instructional model (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate), and provides well-structured guidance for both educators and students. Alternative strategies for reading and processing information are provided. Allows for integration across grade levels
  • Uses resources from the US Climate Resilience Tool for two parts of the activity.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Excellent background material for teachers, list of additional resources, and teacher preparation section.
  • Full set of answer keys supplied as well as rubrics for final projects.
  • All materials are provided in pdf and ppt form.
  • There is a link to a Spanish-language extension of the website in the menu on the left side of the page.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

High School

Performance Expectations: 4

HS-ESS2-2: Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth's surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.

HS-ESS3-1: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.

HS-ESS3-4: Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.

HS-LS2-7: Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 6

HS-ESS3.C1:The sustainability of human societies and the biodiversity that supports them requires responsible management of natural resources.

HS-ESS3.C2:Scientists and engineers can make major contributions by developing technologies that produce less pollution and waste and that preclude ecosystem degradation.

HS-ETS1.A2:Humanity faces major global challenges today, such as the need for supplies of clean water and food or for energy sources that minimize pollution, which can be addressed through engineering. These global challenges also may have manifestations in local communities

HS-ETS1.B1:When evaluating solutions, it is important to take into account a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, and to consider social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

HS-LS2.C2:Moreover, anthropogenic changes (induced by human activity) in the environment—including habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, overexploitation, and climate change—can disrupt an ecosystem and threaten the survival of some species.

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.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 1

Stability and Change

HS-C7.1:Much of science deals with constructing explanations of how things change and how they remain stable.

Science and Engineering Practices: 3

Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

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-P6.5:Design, evaluate, and/or refine a solution to a complex real-world problem, based on scientific knowledge, student-generated sources of evidence, prioritized criteria, and tradeoff considerations.

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.

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