Introduction

CONTENT | REFERENCES | RESOURCES | SPONSORS | CONTRIBUTORS | HOW TO USE THIS CD
CLIMATE CHANGE IN CONTEXT | NEXT

1.0 Introduction

 

This website will help you learn about climate change. Growing concentrations of human-produced carbon dioxide are creating what is arguably the most important global issue this century. Engaging with the information and research detailed here will help you, teachers and students, to understand the causes and effects, and to create and implement solutions.

 

The information in Climate Change in Context will give you:
  • An historical overview of climate change as it has happened over the geological course of the Earth’s history.
  • The science behind climate change.
  • The components, factors, and system interactions that come into play when global temperatures change.
  • A wide range of tables, graphs and current scientific data to help you understand and analyze both the current situation, and possible future climate scenarios.
  • The basis for a discussion of how “systems thinking” is a helpful way of examining complex change.
  • A better understanding of feedback loops in system change (including the role of humans!).
  • Confidence that everyone can make a positive contribution to lessening greenhouse gas emissions and the effects of climate change
Teachers and Group Leaders:

There are basically two kinds of articles on this CD; those that are information only and those that are information with activities. The activities can range from questions based on the article to follow-up research using interactive websites.
View an example of climate change as projected.
Some possible teaching strategies using this CD:

  • Teacher-directed class/group assignment -you chose the article and related activity. After a lesson on the topic, assign the related activity. Or the assignment could be to read the article and complete the activity in class or at home. The activities are photocopy-ready. You may wish to modify the questions. Graphics are in colour, so you may wish to print a single overhead, a few copies for groups to use, or have your students view the graphics on screen. The CD can be uploaded on the school server for all to access. There are many opportunities for integration with other subjects such as math and geography and to develop skills such as graphical analysis.
  • Independent study assignments – There are many possibilities, based on different sections of the CD.
    • Past, Present, and Future: Students choose a different topic on the CD, connected to in-class topics being studied, and perform additional research beyond CD. The CD article becomes a springboard for further research. The resources button in the green menu bar is a good place to start the research. The articles often give suggested websites. The goal could also be to inform the individual, group/class or larger community about the topic. For example displays or presentations could be made in an auditorium or mall. Students could make a presentation or create an activity for a younger grade.
    • Successes and What You Can Do: Students choose one of these and follow up with an action plan for home, school or community. There is a great opportunity here for making connections beyond the classroom. The whole school or community could adopt a plan of action to make a concerted effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Students can choose a local success story, not on the CD, and create a report or a presentation. They can write a letter to the newspaper or politician about the success – and you can let us know for future editions, by sending us your feedback. 
Contact us at the web site with your feedback.
    • Systems Thinking: This section in the Introduction can help you and your students make connections between human society’s systems and natural systems, and how they interact. Students can choose a human system, such as Canada Post, our mail system and perform a systems thinking activity.
Questions About Climate Change
The “Whys” of climate change

Asking the right questions is the first step to uncovering the knowledge we wish to gain. Here are some key questions we invite you to ask as you use this Climate Change in Context program:

  • Why is our climate changing?
  • Why is it important for us, as Ontarians and as global citizens, to be informed about it?
  • Why should we become aware of actions we can take to slow down climate change?
  • Why is it helpful to understand climate change and ways of dealing with it – in context?
  • What are Canada and other world nations doing about climate change?
Our Role in Climate Change: The Challenge of Choice
  • In its 1995 report the IPCC said for the first time that “The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.”
  • In the second report in 2001, the statement from over 2,000 IPCC scientists was stronger: “It is likely that increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases have contributed substantially to the observed global warming over the last 50 years.”

We know from scientific evidence that the earth’s temperature has changed many times over its four-billion year history. Scientists have gathered the proof of this change from many different sources. They include geological studies, the observation of planetary orbits and solar activity, ice cores, historical studies of pollen distribution, and tree rings. So if is climate change is “natural,” why is it a subject of so much interest, and even concern, today? And do we have a responsibility to do something about the current change?

The answer is that, although climate change is not new, a large percentage of world scientists believe that today’s shift in global temperature and climate patterns is unique. The scientists who worked the international Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) declared for the first time in 1995 that there is evidence of human influence on our climate. Our burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – is changing the composition of the atmosphere, making it retain more of the sun’s heat. This is making the earth warmer, altering weather patterns, and contributing to a rising number of more violent weather events. With rising temperatures, the polar ice caps are melting, changing the temperature, currents and water levels of the world’s oceans.

A major concern is the rate of change. In the past hundred years the average global temperatures have risen by 0.6 + 0.2ºoC, with the rate of change increasing in the last decades of the 20th century. The 9 hottest years of recorded temperatures all occurred since 1990, with 2003 the third hottest year on record.

In the 21st century, we are all faced with the choice of what to do about climate change. It will take voluntary cooperation at every level – in every sphere of empowerment – to slow the releases of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, and find innovative ways to live well while reducing our carbon outputs. It matters what everyone does – from children who walk to school, to presidents of the world’s nations, to large corporations, oil companies and energy producers.
E.g. Did you know about this? Toronto is at least one degree warmer than rural Ontario?

Urban Heat Island Effect
Urban Island Effect

Source: www.adaptation.nrcan.gc.ca/posters/articles /on 04. (modified from Oke.1976)

Give us your feedback:

Give us your feedback, please! Help us to improve this CD for the next edition. We have tried to reference all sources. If you find information that needs to be referenced, please let us know. Send your suggestions for improving the navigation of the CD and/or the information it contains. Send us your own success story about using the CD. Testimonials will be acknowledged!

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