How Can We Address Climate Change?
Context: Climate change is already impacting the city of Detroit, through increased rain events (and resulting flooding), severe storms, heat waves, and worsened air pollution. While taking action to stop climate change is vital, it is also important to adapt our lives to live with the impacts of climate change. Climate change is a result of human activities, largely the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) to power our cars, provide electricity, and heat our homes. Burning fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, which warm our planet. In this activity, students will think critically about what solutions are fighting the cause of climate change (greenhouse gases), which are helping us cope with climate change, and which are doing both.
To learn more about the effects of rising temperatures in Detroit, students can check out our activity on the urban heat island effect here: https://www.youthenergysquad.org/post/reducing-the-urban-heat-island-effect
To better understand the greenhouse gas effect, which is the basis of climate change, check out our activity: https://www.youthenergysquad.org/post/diy-greenhouse-effect-model
Goals: Grade Level: 7th - 12th
Learn about adaptation and mitigation
Think critically about climate solutions
Supplies: Time: 45 minutes
Optional pen and paper
First, review the impacts of climate change, mitigation and adaptation with the following short video (under 3 minutes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmBDZKOdbkY.
Next, take the time to familiarize yourself with the following definitions. Both describe how we can respond to climate change, and it’s impacts (flooding, high heat days, extreme weather, etc.).
Adaptation: Describes actions that help us prepare and live with the impacts of climate change. For example, using air conditioning in response to more frequent heat waves. Adaptation can be seen as a ‘bandaid.’
Mitigation: Describes actions that address the problem itself, which in terms of climate change means lowering greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide. For example, a normal car burns gasoline, releasing greenhouse gases. To mitigate this, someone could walk whenever possible.
Lastly, using these definitions, organize the following pictures and descriptions by adaptation, mitigation, or both! Record on a separate sheet of paper or on your device where you would place each item. Optional: if you have access to a printer, print the notecards, cut out and organize. Afterwards, answer the following questions.
Have you noticed any of these solutions in Detroit? Are there any you would like to see in Detroit?
Did you place any in the ‘both’ category? How were they both adaptation and mitigation?
Can you try any of these solutions at home? Or do you already?
What are the impacts of climate change? What groups of people may be impacted more so than others?
How can the city of Detroit make sure that these groups are prepared for the impacts of climate change? What would you do if you were the mayor?