Lesson 3: What are the consequences of climate change? What do the consequences mean for human communities and food production? 

NGSS Alignment: 

  • MS-ESS3D: Global Climate Change

  • Science and Engineering Practice: Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Teacher Guide: 

  • Spend time exploring the National Climate Assessment website ahead of time. Adjust the climate assessment scavenger hunt questionnaire according to your school's geographic region and any other desired areas of investigation for students.

  • There is a planned update to the NCA that will be released in December of 2018.

  • Check out the Carbon Brief mapping tool for your location- how much has your area warmed and how much will it continue to warm by 2100?

  • Video of California farmer responding to impacts of climate change (Farmer Al- Frog Hollow Farm).

  • Read up on Rocky Mountain Biological Lab warming experiments and NGEE-Arctic for examples of how climate scientists are trying to better understand future impacts. Additional news article citing RMBL.


  • Do Now: Get into teams of 2-3 for the National Climate Assessment scavenger hunt.

  • Mini Lesson: Explain the National Climate Assessment tool (and planned update for 2018), focusing on Agricultural impacts from climate change for your region.

  • Activity 1: Student teams complete the National Climate Assessment Scavenger Hunt worksheet, turn in when done; prize (garden veggies) for most complete and fastest responses.

    • When teams are done, go to the Carbon Brief mapping tool to explore temperature warming trends in your area and elsewhere in the world. Where is warming the fastest?

  • Activity 2: Invite in a guest speaker (farmer or urban gardener) to talk about impacts from climate change that they are already experiencing, and changes they anticipate affecting their farm/garden in the near future. Have a Q&A and work time with guest out in the garden.

  • Video- climate resilient farming systems in the Solomon Islands. Farms all over the world are thinking about how to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change, and many of the broad strategies are actually very similar around the world (i.e. promoting water conservation through adding soil organic matter, creating raised beds where sea level rise threatens, increasing crop diversity to add resilience, etc).

  • Optional: Show Farmer Al video. Key message: to deal with climate change, farmers must change what they grow. Adapt, and mitigate (more proactive step).

  • Closing: Group Climate impact assessments. Students move to different corners/circles if they think the following statements are effects of climate change, or not effects:

    • A hurricane hits the east coast. [Not CC]

    • A hurricane drops 200% more rain than average upon making landfall on the east coast. [CC]

    • The largest wildfire ever recorded burns in California. [CC]

    • A “100-year drought” hits the west coast for the 2nd time in 10 years. [CC]

    • The depth to permafrost layer in the Arctic is growing each summer as permafrost near the soil surface melts. [CC]

    • The groundwater aquifers in California are becoming harder to access. [Trick question, both answers are somewhat correct; mostly a problem of overuse/over pumping, but this is climate-linked].

    • Agricultural soils are in a state of degradation. [Not CC effect, but degraded soils do contribute to CC on the “cause” side of the equation].

    • Pollinator emergence is no longer coinciding with flower bloom (main food source for pollinating insects). [CC]

    • Insect pests are surviving through the winters that aren’t cold enough to kill them off, and emerging in larger numbers each summer. [CC]

    Debrief activity, taking into account impacts and possible responses from farmers in your area.