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Top 3 Climate Change Videos for Critical Thinking

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We asked teens what issues matter most to them in this upcoming election, and climate change was at the top of the list. Young climate activists like Xiye Bastida, Vic Barrett and Greta Thunberg have called attention to this issue and are demanding action from lawmakers. Millions of people, many of whom are youth, recently protested around the world in support of more progressive climate policies. 

So, it is more important than ever for young people to understand the science behind climate change–and have an opportunity to think critically about what it means in their lives. The study of climate change is baked into the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), supporting Earth and Space Science performance expectations, and principles of climate also show up in Life Science and Physical Science.

KQED Learn provides free supports to help teachers meet these standards and spark evidence-based, lively discussions about climate change. Each discussion on KQED Learn features an episode of our award-winning web series Above the Noise. Each video is full of scientific research and evidence that is delivered with context that’s relevant to the lives of students. After watching the video, your class can then join the student-only discussion forum where they can practice civil dialogue and evidence-based communication around several climate change topics.

Using KQED Learn as a Science Teacher

Show the video. To introduce an issue and some of the important arguments and evidence surrounding the issue, show one of the Above the Noise episodes linked below. Optional extension. Depending on your subject area and focus, you might do an extension activity for students to delve deeper into aspects of this issue related to the content of your class. Join the discussion. Then, we invite your students to join the discussion on KQED Learn by crafting an evidence-based written or multimedia response and engage with peers from around the country.

Climate Change Videos

1. Are You an Optimist or Pessimist About Our Ability to Take on Climate Change?


Earth is getting warmer, and the temperature is predicted to continue to climb. This episode explores some of the effects of climate change, what we need to do to limit it, what we’ve already started doing, and how we’ll need to adapt. Then, students discuss their mindset about our ability to take on climate change.


2. Would Banning Plastic Bottles Help or Hurt the Planet?

Plastic pollution is a problem for our oceans and other ecosystems. The plastic life cycle is also a contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. This episode gives an overview of some of the environmental concerns of plastic water bottles and some of the reasons why banning them might also be problematic. Based on evidence, students argue whether the costs of banning plastic bottles outweigh the benefits.


3. Is a Carbon Tax the Best Way to Slow Climate Change?

Myles, the host of Above the Noise, is wearing an air pollution face mask. Behind him is a graphic of a factory emitting pollution.

Carbon taxes are used as a way to decrease the amount of fossil fuels that are burned. This episode explores some of the reasons why this may or may not be a good way to address our warming climate, and students are invited to discuss their evidence-based claim on KQED Learn.

Interested in exploring these topics with your students? Here’s how to get your students on KQED Learn!


Optional Extensions

Your students can also cite evidence from an extension activity or additional research in their KQED Learn responses!

Graph Climate Change

Example: get started. Use global temperature data to create models.

Example: get specific. Examine Earth’s “vital signs” through measured and proxy data.

Example: get local. Explore graphs and maps of historical and projected climate variables for any county in the contiguous United States.

Build Empathy

Example: natural and human systems. Maps and GIS serve as a tool to understand the impacts of climate change on people globally.

Example: set the scene. See how climate change is impacting individuals, communities, and other resources on the planet.

Example: from the youth. Hear from young people about how their communities experience climate change and what they’re doing about it.

Take Action

Example: confronting change. Learn about case studies of resilient communities, businesses, and individuals.

Example: do real science. These are some citizen science projects related to climate.

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