Activities to Help Children Learn About the Global Climate from Facts, Not Fear

by William Yeatman on January 22, 2003

in Science, Students

Many children have been taught to fear the supposedly imminent arrival of global warming even though no one really knows if the world is getting hotter. While it is important to make children aware that current scientific evidence is inconclusive, it also may be helpful to put to rest some of the irrational fears of global warming. Facts, Not Fear, a guide book on teaching children about the environment by Jane Shaw and Michael Sanera, offers several suggestions.

  • First, they suggest teaching children about dinosaurs. Ask children to describe the environment the dinosaurs lived in, including the vegetation, and ask them if the world was warmer or cooler than it is now. Explain to them that at the time dinosaurs lived the atmosphere had CO2 levels that were at least 5 times greater than what we now have and that these high levels of CO2 contributed to the rich vegatation.
  • The book also suggests a field trip to a greenhouse to learn about the “greenhouse effect.” Ask the greenhouse manager to explain how the conditions in the greenhouse are controlled to help plants and ask if the greenhouse adds carbon dioxide. Many greenhouses do add CO2 because it is a vital component of photosynthesis. This can help children learn that CO2 isn’t the dangerous gas that it is often portrayed as.
  • Finally, Sanera and Shaw suggest teaching children about former predictions of a coming ice age. Have children read articles and books such as “The Ice Age Cometh?” from Time in January 31, 1994, The Cooling by Lowell Ponte, and “Brace Yourself for Another Ice Age,” from Science Digest in February of 1975.

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