Lesson 3: What are the effects of climate change and what will that look like here?

Farm-Educator prep:

  • One effect of climate change is sea level rise. Watch video of climate-resilient farming example in the Solomon Islands, threatened by rising seas.

  • Brainstorm list of effects that are relevant locally.

  • Compare to National Climate Assessment tool predictions for your geographic region.

  • 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.

Materials:

  • Recycled plastic containers for building mini-greenhouses

Agenda:

  • Warm-up: 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. [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]

  • Mini Lesson: Discuss impacts already being felt on the farm, and those that are most relevant to this region. How can farmers mitigate and adapt to these effects? Bring in panel of local farmers if possible, or multiple perspectives from your farm.

  • Activity 1: Build mini greenhouses out of recycled plastic containers or any available “found” materials on the farm. Set up seedling containers with potting soil, add seed to containers. Discuss why greenhouses might be good for starting seedlings, but bad for plants out in the field. What would happen if you covered all the plants in a row with a greenhouse? Would some plants like that better than others? Which ones?

  • Wrap-up: Relate greenhouse activity to how researchers are simulating warming in parts of the Arctic and Rocky Mountains to learn more about what future effects of climate change might be (extinction of certain species, migration of plant/animal communities, soil carbon releases, etc). Share examples from Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory and NGEE-Arctic experiments.