How can you use the IPCC in your classroom? | NCSE

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With the world all abuzz about the recent release of the fifth edition of the IPCC report, many teachers are no doubt wondering how to take advantage of this teachable moment. Should they address the report in social studies?  In an environmental sciences course? How can they address the report without overwhelming or terrifying students? Most importantly though, how can they fit it into an already full curriculum?

In our experience at NCSE, it is not about fitting climate change into an already full semester; it is about understanding where climate change already fits. Though every state has different science standards, most cover the same topics–though in differing detail and often in different years. As a result, I’ll share some suggestions that can apply to many different states, allowing teachers to address the IPCC’s user-friendly Summary for Policy Makers report while still covering the standards required by their state.

Earth Science Teachers

If your state has  standards regarding climate.

Climate is typically addressed in middle or high school earth science courses. An easy place to start is Figure 1 in the report, which addresses land and ocean surface temperatures over the last century. This is a great opportunity to talk about how ocean, land, and atmospheric temperatures differ and why some parts of the world are warming at a faster rate than others. Figures 7a and 8a show projections into the future for surface temperature change, which could be used for a discussion of climate models. You could also use Figure 5 to discuss how different atmospheric gases and aerosols impact climate, as well as the often conceptually challenging concept of “radiative forcing”.

Written By: Minda Berbeco
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4 COMMENTS

  1. Just reading a story today about the climate change problems in Alaska as the permafrost is being destroyed. Just a few miles from where I used to live in Alaska, North Pole Alaska, which is just outside Fairbanks, they are having severe problems with housing foundations and road repair. They are even trying to insulate the roads while in some spots the asphalt is not ten feet deep where repair work has been done.

    These little vignettes would fit quite nicely in social studies or geography class and bring home to young minds the seriousness of the situation without being alarming.

    • In reply to #1 by Neodarwinian:

      Just reading a story today about the climate change problems in Alaska as the permafrost is being destroyed. Just a few miles from where I used to live in Alaska, North Pole Alaska, which is just outside Fairbanks, they are having severe problems with housing foundations and road repair. They are ev…

      ” the asphalt is not ten feet deep “

      Make that…The asphalt IS ten feet deep.

  2. Take care to emphasise ‘GLOBAL’

    So many quote local effects in support (of or to refute) climate change. An otherwise intelligent friend is 100% convinced it’s all “snake oil”; I just can’t bear to hear it any more. Bloody Republicans!

    PS- Anyone else get ‘disallow access’ message? And why is it there?

  3. Biologists, agriculturalists, oceanographers, weather forecasters, fire-fighters, utility companies, construction companies, transport companies and geographers world wide, will be taking climate changes into account, so any teacher who is keeping up to date with their subject, will be getting input on relevant specific details of what ever subject material they are teaching.

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