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This lesson is envisioned as a two-day lesson, which can be extended to a third day, by including an additional day of preparation for the consensus building exercise, and another day for including the New Thinking on Climate Crisis enrichment video.

Common Core Standards Correlation:

English Language Arts Standards - History/Social Studies - Grades 6-8:

Key Ideas and Details:

RH.6-8.1. RH.6-8.2. RH.6-8.3.

Craft and Structure:

RH.6-8.4. RH.6-8.5. RH.6-8.6.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:



Save the Earth commercial, http://youtu.be/KCYYhEiTuro; HNN backgrounder fact sheet, Climate Change Arguments Explained word document; rap song Click It – Flip It! http://www.epa.gov/climateforaction/learn/rap.htm; TED Talk by Al Gore: New Thinking on Climate Crisis http://www.ted.com/talks/al_gore_s_new_thinking_on_the_climate_crisis.html;

Objectives: SWBAT

•Identify various terms related to climate change from the HNN backgrounder

•Explore different arguments about climate change

•Distinguish between scientific fact and personal opinions

•Evaluate whether climate change is man-made or a natural process


A. Introduction (Bell Ringer): http://youtu.be/KCYYhEiTuro

Have students view the following Save the Earth Alliance for Change commercial and answer the following questions:

a. What issue(s) about climate does this commercial address?

b. How does this commercial want you to act on these issue(s)?

c. To what extent are these issues contentious?

Essential Question:

Is climate change an issue caused by humans that our government must act upon?

B. Backgrounder: Move to a general review discussion of the HNN Backgrounder:

1) Review the following vocabulary terms as you move through discussion questions:

•Keystone Pipeline; contaminate; environmentalism; Green Party; Earth Day; Industrial Revolution; coal emissions; noxious gases; Sierra Club; Sequoia National Park; Yosemite National Parks

2) Have students identify the current issue over environmentalism in the backgrounder.

3) How did we come to this point?

•Have students review the position of the left and the right political groups, and relate how those positions underscored events over time through analysis of the chronology of Historical Background

C. Analysis:

1) Why do we celebrate Earth Day?

Show a brief PowerPoint to introduce Earth Day to students. This can be modified or expanded and the slides can be reproduced as handouts.

2) What issues would the Environmental Protection Agency want us to consider?

Play the EPA Rap Song Click It -- Flip It! While students are listening, have them create a list of all of the environmental actions the rap discusses that a citizen can take to help the environment.


D. Homework:

Use the handout, Climate Change Arguments Explained, to assign arguments for students to research. Break the class up into two groups: one for man-made climate change, and the other against man-made climate change.

In each of these respective groups, then assign one argument (out of the five from the handout) per student to study, and prepared to debate the following day.


1) Have each student read and explain the argument in their own words

2) Each student must bring in one piece of evidence to support that particular argument. Evidence can range from a statistics, newspaper clipping, think tank analysis, government document or excerpt from an academic paper.

NOTE: Have students mark the citation information on their respective piece of evidence.


A. Consensus Based Decision Making Public Forum:

The objective of this exercise is to experience consensus based decision-making.

•Have each large group work together for five to ten minutes to bring all the arguments together, sharing their personal analysis from the homework assignment.

•Then each individual presents his or her arguments and evidence in a general presentation of the material.

•Anyone in the class is allowed to ask questions for clarification. This part should not be a discussion on the merits or failings of the position, but rather the goal of “clarifying the position” to ensure that everyone in the class understands what is being asserted.

•After all the arguments have been presented, the floor then opens for discussion and debate. It is at this point that the ideas either fail or are pushed forward during the discussion.

•Once the analysis reaches a point where a “significant” portion of the assembly agrees, then it is time to move forward, and affirm the consensus of the body.

B. Debriefing Questions:

1) What were some of the stumbling blocks toward building consensus on climate change?

2) How would one have to present arguments effectively to meet those challenges?

3) Assess what it would take as a citizenry to make such a forum happen. How effective would CBDM be as a means of establishing a national consensus on climate change?

C. Summary Question:

To what extent is climate change a man-made or natural process?


1) Have students view TED Talk by Al Gore: New Thinking on Climate Crisis http://www.ted.com/talks/al_gore_s_new_thinking_on_the_climate_crisis.html

2) Have students examine the history of the Conservation Movement between 1850 and 1920. Break up students into groups and for each time period on the site, have students create PowerPoint presentations to present to the class http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amrvhtml/conshome.html.