Climate Change

This overview outlines a series of sessions and activity options to support your planning to deliver the Key Stage 3 subject content for Human and Physical Geography alongside other curriculum areas.  

This unit aids understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change through the lens of human and physical geography. Students can be enabled to feel a sense of hope and optimism about the future through opportunities to work with peers to make changes that benefit people and the environment. At this stage of learning, it is important that young people can ask and investigate their own questions about climate change. 

Royal Meteorological Society climate change content quality mark

 

Unit of learning
KS3

Sessions

Prior Knowledge

What questions do you have about climate and climate change? 
Choose an activity to introduce the concept of climate change that provides learners with the opportunity to raise questions that are important to them. Activities and factsheets are provided to support students to raise questions and explore aspects of climate change that interest them.

Explore I

Why is climate different around the world?
The purpose of this session is to help learners understand that different areas of the world experience difference climates. Being able to identify the main climate zones will underpin an understanding of how climate change is impacting these areas.

Enquire

What causes climate change? 
This session guides learners to investigate the relationship between human activity (specifically carbon emissions and greenhouse gases) and climate change. By investigating and interpreting data to identify any patterns, students practise key green skills.

Explore II

How will climate change in the future? 
The IPCC (2021-2022) describes scenarios for climate change in the future. If we want to keep global warming at less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, which the IPCC says is the best-case scenario, we need to reduce our CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions significantly and right away. Activity options for this session support learners to understand how climate models are used to make predictions about future outcomes.

Making Change

What are the impacts of climate change around the world? 
As the impacts of climate change include biodiversity loss, changing extreme weather, changing climate patterns and varied impacts on people around the world, this session can be adapted and extended depending on the questions and interests of your learners. It is important that this session is combined with an opportunity for students to see how people are working collectively to mitigate against the impact on people, places and nature.

Communication

How can actions contribute to a more positive future?
The Nature Park approach encourages young people to understand the role that they can play personally in making a difference; making the most of their skills and interests and collaborating with others. This session encourages learners to begin to think about what their own vision for the future of the environment is and how they might contribute to that vision with others. Opportunities for students to reflect on how they feel and the strategies they have to remain optimistic for the future   are an important part of this session.
 

Supporting Information

Alongside the related challenge of biodiversity loss, climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Learning about climate can be distressing and it is important that, as educators, we provide appropriate support and space to allow young people to process their feelings and practise strategies and actions that protect their mental health and wellbeing.

Climate education and mental health guide

Curriculum Links

Chemistry

  • The production of carbon dioxide by human activity and impact on the climate.

Geography

Weather and climate

  • The change in climate from the ice age and the present, understanding how human and physical processes interact to influence the climate. 

Citizenship

  • To understand the development of the political system of democratic government in the United Kingdom.
  • To understand the roles played by public institutions in society, and the ways in which citizens work together to improve their communities.

Common misconceptions

Climate change is just part of a natural cycle
Although the Earth's atmospheric composition and climate changes continually, the study of past climates shows us that the changes in the last 150 years - particularly the rate of change since the start of the industrial revolution, have been exceptional and cannot be natural.

Key Concepts 

Climate – The average weather patterns over a long-term period (over 30 years at least).
Climate change – A large-scale, long-term shift in the planet's weather patterns and average temperatures.
Global warming – The long-term heating of Earth’s surface observed since the pre-industrial period due to human activities.
Extreme weather – A weather event that is notably different from the usual weather pattern - i.e. particularly severe or unseasonal. For example, flash floods or a heat wave in the UK.

Further Activities and Opportunities

A COP26 Scrapbook (Natural History Museum) - This resource explains the COP26 meeting in Glasgow in 2021, where delegates discussed and reviewed how climate change is being managed domestically and internationally. It reviews the announcements made and deals agreed.

The resource is one of a series of slide decks, which contain general background information on topics related to climate change and biodiversity loss. These are template resources that have been designed to be edited and added to and used in a variety of ways, to best fit the needs of individual key stages, classes and students.

Young People at a Crossroads (University of Manchester) - Through interviews, focus groups and young people’s own interviews with parents, this booklet shares perspectives of what a diverse group of young people are learning about climate change at school in different countries, how they feel about what they are learning and how they talk about this with their families.

Recommended books - reviewed by BookTrust

The Carbon-Neutral Adventures of the Indefatigable Enviroteens by First Dog On the Moon (ages 10+).  A hilarious graphic novel that manages to be entertaining, informative and utterly bonkers while tackling the very serious issue of global warming and climate change.

The Summer We Turned Green by William Sutcliffe (ages 10+). When Luke’s dad joins climate protestors squatting in the house opposite, it rocks their family’s foundations. Funny and moving, with convincing characters.

Where the River Runs Gold by Sita Brahmachari (ages 9+). Shifa and her brother Themba live in a world destroyed by climate change, but when they're sent away to work, they're horrified to discover a cruel and corrupt system. Will they be able to escape and make the world a better place?

*Note – this unit is Royal Meteorological Society Climate Science accredited but the above books have not undergone the climate science quality assurance process.

Green Careers

So you want to do something about climate change? This video playlist from the Royal Meteorological Society showcases some careers in climate change that you could do with qualifications in STEM subjects.

Preview image for the video "So you want to do something about climate change...".