Jan 29, 2008 - 9:43am
Teaching Climate Change: A new resource for teachers and students
rising temperatures, prolonged drought and the seemingly permanent
water restrictions Australians are now facing up to the reality of
climate change. The mainstream media has finally caught up to the
science in recognising that climate change is real and it is happening
In 2007, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its Fourth Assessment Report. It concluded:
of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from
observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures,
widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.
report also stated that there is a 90 per cent certainty that human
activities are to blame. In 2008, the Bureau of Meteorology announced
that Australia had recorded warmer-than-average temperatures for 16 of
the past 18 years. It said that ‘this pattern is not surprising given
that Australia’s climate is warming in line with the rest of the globe’.
climate change on the political agenda and in the media, Australians
are being inundated with information about climate change. For children,
in particular, making sense of the information can be difficult, if not
Teaching climate change can also be hard because it
cuts across subjects, including Science, Human Society and its
Environment (HSIE) and Economics. Accessing suitable information can
therefore prove challenging, especially for the aspects of climate
change that receive less attention such as the ethics and economics of
Conscious of these issues, Australian Ethical
Investment Ltd generously provided funding to the Australia Institute, a
not-for-profit public interest think tank based in Canberra, to put
together a series of teaching materials on climate change for high
school teachers of year 9 and 10 students.
In conjunction with high
school teachers and university academics who work in the field of
climate change, the Australia Institute has compiled a series of nine
individual modules. Each module addresses a different dimension of
climate change. The modules aim to provide teachers and students with
accurate information to consider and analyse some of the critical issues
facing Australia, and indeed the world.
What might the impacts
of climate change be in the future? What role can international
negotiations play? Who is responsible for the damage caused by climate
change? Who will suffer most from its effects? What policies can
governments use to reduce our emissions? What are the economic costs? Is
nuclear power the answer?
For example, Module 4 looks at the role
of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the
Kyoto Protocol. It describes the workings of the Protocol and highlights
the role developed and developing countries can play. It also considers
the arguments that surrounded Australia’s decision to ratify the Kyoto
Protocol in 2007.
Module 5 introduces climate change as an ethical
issue. Through the example of climate change it demonstrates the
importance of ethical principles such as the polluter pays principle in
resolving questions about who is responsible for the damage caused by
Module 9 considers the controversial issue of
nuclear power in Australia. Suited to both teachers of science and the
humanities, this module describes the science of nuclear energy. It then
considers the arguments for and against nuclear power in Australia,
together with an overview of the problem of nuclear waste.
envisaged that the series will be most useful to teachers in the
humanities, namely in the studies of society and environment, geography
and economics. Modules 1, 2 and 9, which cover the science and impacts
of climate change and nuclear energy, will also provide useful
background for science teachers. In addition, Module 6, which looks at
the economics of climate change, is specifically targeted at students
studying economics in year 11.
For more information about the series or to download the modules free of charge visit www.teachingclimatechange.com.au