Dealing with complexity
Teaching climate change presents complex challenges for education:
Climate change and its natural and anthropogenic factors have a multidisciplinary nature that can make it difficult for students, especially those without strong backgrounds in these areas, to understand.
Teachers have a very important role in simplifying this complex topic without losing the essence of the scientific concepts.
This can be done using visual aids and interactive models to explain concepts.
Activity: Watch the video “What is Climate Change: Exploring the Challenges”
Teachers could for example create a playlist of different videos that might address this issue, such as the following:
Causes and Effects of Climate Change | National Geographic
Climate Change – We are the PROBLEM & the SOLUTION (Animated Infographic)
Climate Change and Global Warming, EXPLAINED
Friendly Guide to Climate Change – and what you can do to help
Teachers can also use different visualisation tools using the NASA Visualisation Studio:, while students can also use Google’s Earth Engine, which allows users to explore and visualise decades of satellite imagery.
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Finding reliable information
The free tool ArcGIS Storymaps can be used to present the science of climate change using multimedia information, data and maps for learning and teaching.
Activity: Explore the causes, consequences, consensus and action in the “Hot Numbers” Storymap. Consider the ‘power’ of the information presented.
How valuable is this as a teaching / learning resource.
Where is the information derived from? Is it reliable?
There are many examples which illustrate different aspects of climate change, some are explored in the next section.
A psychological challenge
Many people perceive climate change as a distant problem, affecting only certain regions or future generations. This can make it difficult for students to feel personally invested in learning about it or taking action.
It is important for teachers to make the impacts of climate change relatable by connecting them to local events or changes in students’ own environments. Teachers can incorporate project-based learning where students can see the direct impacts of climate change in their community and understand how they are directly affected by climate change.