Adaptation to Global Climate Change
( Volume 21, Number 2) By Angene Wilson
As I write this lesson plan in early June, the Senate is beginning debate on Senate Bill 2191, the Climate Security Act of 2007. Last week, the National Science and Technology Council and the US Climate Change Science program released an assessment of the effects of climate change on the United States, such as sea-level rise and an increase in hurricanes, forest fires, insect outbreaks, and heat waves. Climate change will be an issue in the presidential campaign. Teachers and students will want to participate in discussions about climate change – and not only as a U.S., but also as a global issue. That’s the focus of the summer issue of WorldView magazine and of the booklet Adaptation 101 published by Oxfam America.
Students will learn about the effects of climate change in other parts of the world and how communities are adapting and choose a project related to climate change.
Put UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s quotation from the first page of the Adaptation 101 booklet on the board: “Let us recognize that the effects of climate change affect us all. And that they have become so severe and so sweeping that only urgent, global action will do. We are all in this together. We must work together.”
Begin with question and charge: “How do people in other countries adapt to climate change? Today you are going to learn some answers to that question.”
Divide students into seven small groups. Assign each of the groups a case study:
1) Preparing people to live with the floods in Bangladesh;
2) Cereal banks help Gambians weather hard times;
3) Better responses in times of drought in Ethiopia;
4) Mountain hamlets prepare for next bout of bad weather in Peru (all in Adaptation 101;
5) Renewable Energy in Vanuatu (WorldView);
6) Farmers Battle Effects of Changing Seasons in Papua New Guinea; and
7) Cambodia: Changing Climate and Malaria (both at http://oxfamamerica.org/climate)
After reading case study and answering the following questions, each group should report to the class:
- Location of the country on a map
- What is the climate change issue?
- What solution is being tried?
- Who is involved in making the solution work?
In summing up reports, the teacher should note that climate change affects communities in different ways and different responses are necessary. Hand out “What does adaptation look like?” and “World Map with Existing Adaptation Strategies Around the World” from Adaptation 101 to pairs of students and ask them to categorize the 10 adaptation strategies on the map and the seven they learned about in longer case studies according to the key areas of adaptation bulleted in “What does adaptation look like?” handout.
Now ask: “So what does this have to do with us? What is our role as a global leader?” Be sure students recognize that both helping fund adaptation projects in other countries and working to reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions and develop clean energy technologies are important.
Give students choices for individual or pair projects. A few ideas:
- look at children’s art expressing climate change on the Oxfam website and create your own art to represent climate change in U.S. and around the world;
- read the book You Can Prevent Global Warming (and Save Money!), reviewed in WorldView, and make a poster for the school library or front hall entitled “Reducing your Carbon Footprint;”
- create a survey for the local community to determine how many of examples of carbon dioxide reductions listed in the review of You Can Prevent Global Warming are being followed;
- follow Senate Bill 2191, the Climate Security Act of 2007, and write a letter to the two Senators in your state, including a global perspective on issue of climate change;
- research a particular technology such as solar energy and explain its applicability to the local area and to another part of the world;
- organize a challenge for high school students such as weekly or monthly car-less or beef-less days or grade-level contests on amount of recycling;
- do an email exchange with students in another nation on the issue of climate change, exchanging ideas about adaptation;
- and other possibilities that teacher and students will create.