In this lesson, students will use a jigsaw activity to learn about some of the most effective strategies and technologies that can help head off the worst effects of global warming.
This lesson plan is from the New York Times.
Earlier this summer, a report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of scientists convened by the United Nations, found that some devastating impacts of global warming were unavoidable. But there is still a short window to stop things from getting even worse.
This report will be central at COP26, the international climate summit where about 20,000 heads of state, diplomats and activists are meeting in person this week to set new targets for cutting emissions from coal, oil and gas that are heating the planet.
In this lesson, you will learn about seven ways we can slow down climate change and head off some of its most catastrophic consequences while we still have time. Using a jigsaw activity, you’ll become an expert in one of these strategies or technologies and share what you learn with your classmates. Then, you will develop your own climate plan and consider ways you can make a difference based on your new knowledge.
Thousands of leaders, diplomats and activists are meeting now at COP26, the annual international climate summit, to set new targets for reducing greenhouse gases. It is considered a crucial moment in the fight against climate change: A recent United Nations report found that some devastating impacts of global warming are now unavoidable, but there is still a short window to stop things from getting even worse.
Young people in particular are feeling the effects — both physical and emotional — of a heating planet. In response to our recent Student Opinion question about extreme weather that has been intensified by climate change, teenagers told us about experiencing deadly heat waves in Washington, devastating hurricanes in North Carolina and even smoke from the California wildfires in Vermont. They’re also feeling the anxiety of facing a future that could be even worse: “How long do I have before the Earth becomes uninhabitable? I ask myself this every day,” one student wrote. The New York Times
- Listen to the speech by Sir David Attenborough and take notes when listening
- Write a short summary of his statements.
What do you know about the ways the world can slow climate change? Start by making a list of strategies, technologies or policies that could help solve the climate crisis.
Answer these questions
- What solutions to climate change did you learn about that you didn’t know before?
- Were you surprised by any of the answers in the quiz? If so, which ones and why?
- What questions do you still have about solving climate change?
Students, read at least one of the linked articles on your topic; you can also use that article as a jumping-off point for more research.
Climate Change Solutions
Renewable energy: Scientists agree that to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change, countries must immediately move away from dirty energy sources like coal, oil and gas, and instead turn to renewable energy sources like wind, solar or nuclear power. Read about the potent possibilities of one of these producers, offshore wind farms, and see how they operate.
Refrigerants: It’s not the most exciting solution to climate change, but it is one of the most effective. Read about how making refrigerants, like air-conditioners, more efficient could eliminate a full degree Celsius of warming by 2100.
Transportation: Across the globe, governments are focused on limiting one of the world’s biggest sources of pollution: gasoline-powered cars. Read about the promises and challenges of electric vehicles or about how countries are rethinking their transit systems.
Methane emissions: You hear a lot about the need to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but what about its dangerous cousin, methane? Read about ideas to halt methane emissions and why doing so could be powerful in the short-term fight against climate change.
Agriculture: Efforts to limit global warming often target fossil fuels, but cutting greenhouse gases from food production is urgent, too, research says. Read about four fixes to earth’s food supply that could go a long way.
Nature conservation: Scientists agree that reversing biodiversity loss is a crucial way to slow climate change. Read about how protecting and restoring nature can help cool the planet or about how Indigenous communities could lead the way.
Carbon capture: Eliminating emissions alone may not be enough to avoid some of the worst effects of climate change, so some companies are investing in technology that sucks carbon dioxide out of the air. Learn more about so-called engineered carbon removal.
Questions to Consider
As you read about your climate solution, respond to the questions below. You can record your answers in this graphic organizer (PDF).
1. What is the solution? How does it work?
2. What problem-related to climate change does this strategy address?
3. What effect could it have on global warming?
4. Compared with other ways to mitigate climate change, how effective is this one? Why?
5. What are the limitations of this solution?
6. What are some of the challenges or risks (political, social, economic, or technical) of this idea?
7. What further questions do you have about this strategy?
When you’ve finished, you’ll meet in “teaching groups” with at least one expert in each of the other climate solutions. Share what you know about your topic with your classmates and record what you learn from them in your graphic organizer.