Title: Global Warming:Early Warning Signs. Exploring Climate Change Impacts
Grade Level: High School
Source: Union of Concerned Scientists

Curriculum Materials


  • Explore, examine, and discuss climate change over the last century, human perceptions of climate and weather, social and climatic factors in vector born diseases, and the effects of climate change on ecosystems.


  • Computer with Internet access
  • Climate Hot Map (provided
  • Survey form for interviews (provided)
  • Maps of malaria distribution
  • Regional nature guides
  • Global Warming: Early Warning Signs map

This is a fairly comprehensive look at the impacts of climate change, both on a global, and at a local level. It also is designed to help students understand the scientific process, and the importance of noting sources of uncertainty in the data. The curriculum consists of four activities looking at climate change in the students' city, perceptions of climate change from older members of the students' community, the relationship between climate change and disease, and the effect of climate change on ecosystems. The activities have been built to use the subject material as a method for teaching science skills.

In the first activity (Climate Change in My City), students will learn to:

1. Describe how global temperature has changed over the last 100 years;
2. Explain why long-term temperature records vary from one location to the next;
3. Demonstrate how different spatial scales affect the record of long-term
temperature trends.

In the second activity (Oral History Project: Climate Then and Now), students will:

1. Explore the factors that determine human perceptions of weather and climate;
2. Compile community survey results on local climate change;
3. Examine the historical record of climate change in their area;
4. Discuss the implications of human perceptions of local climate change on global climate
change policy.

In the third activity (Climate Change and Disease), students will:

1. Explain how vector-borne diseases are transmitted;
2. Describe how climate affects the life cycle of vectors;
3. Explore how social factors affect the occurrence and spread of disease.

In the fourth activity (Climate Change and Ecosystems), students will:

1. Explore the complexity of ecosystem interdependencies ;
2. Explain how climate change could affect the components of an ecosystem;
3. Suggest ways to detect the impacts of climate change on ecosystems.

Extension activities can be used to further focus on the local aspects of global climate change, as well as tying in the ways in which an effect in one place, species, or system can affect others.

State Framework relevance:in progress