Lesson 5: In what ways can the effects of climate change be minimized? 

NGSS Alignment: 

  • MS-ESS3D: Global Climate Change

  • Science and Engineering Practices: Designing Solutions

Teacher Guide:

  • Video on regenerative agriculture and climate change (skim/watch on double speed)

  • Browse Bioneers new media series on Carbon Farming: Agriculture's Solution to Climate Change (videos, podcasts and articles)

  • Soil Solutions to climate problems video (below).

  • Go through Carbon Footprint Calculator and Map on the Cool Climate website.

  • The final assignment for a recently piloted "Climate Resilience Course for Farmers" from the MESA organization is for all participants to create a Climate Resilience plan for their farm. This is a proactive approach to minimizing effects of climate change (rather than just reacting to effects), and one option for students to undertake as a final assignment for the schoolyard or school garden. For examples of climate resilience plans, contact the MESA course organizers via their website.

  • Check out the University of California’s “Bending the Curve” report for a 10-step outline for mitigating climate change; could be shared with students to provoke ideas for school climate action projects.


  • Do Now: As a class, complete the carbon footprint calculator for the teacher onCoolClimate Calculatorand write down 3 ways you could reduce your carbon footprint. At least 1 should focus on food consumption/production.

    • *Requires basic sense of electric bill/monthly utility consumption; teacher should bring in bill if possible

    • What are three ways an individual can reduce their contribution to climate change (by reducing carbon emissions)?

    • How does your zip code’s carbon footprint compare to nearby zip codes? Explore on the Carbon Footprint Map

    • What percentage of your carbon footprint relates to food?

  • Mini Lesson: Explain the difference between adaptation (adjusting to the changes that are happening/going to happen) vs. mitigation (making efforts to reverse or decrease impacts of climate change). Mitigation can happen at many levels, from individual to international. And, we're all going to have to adapt!

  • Activity 1: Solutions circle- post examples and explanations of climate change mitigation activities around the room (soil carbon sequestration/carbon farming, agroecology, permaculture, intercropping, composting, crop diversity, urban agriculture/rooftop gardens) and have students do a gallery walk.

  • Activity 2: Compost activity! [Option: Discuss/prep for garden work next day] Go over compost’s specific role in enhancing soil carbon sequestration (see Marin Carbon Project website), then go out into the garden and apply some compost, rehabilitate the compost bin, etc. Talk about carbon sequestration while composting; feel the difference between carbon-rich and carbon-poor soil

    • Extension 1: Add a thermometer to compost pile to measure temp, or apply compost somewhere it has never been applied before to start a “field trial” of effects of composting. Measure the temperature daily for a week, and chart the temperature changes on a graph.

    • Extension 2: Start soil monitoring project: Collect soil sample from garden, once composted, to send in for soil testing analysis. Doing this annually can allow your school garden to measure change in soil carbon over time, hopefully demonstrating net carbon increase. Soil test kits are available for purchase at local nurseries, and from lab-certified test kits such as this (if funding is available).

  • Close: Brainstorm in groups of 2-3 about the best solution that could be implemented here to mitigate climate change. Solution can incorporate school garden, cafeteria, classroom, and surrounding community. (Bonus: include in your brainstorm solutions that also adapt to climate change, noting the difference between adaptation and mitigation).

  • Optional discussion prompt: What other benefits do you notice about climate-related solutions that farms can adopt? Are the benefits of these activities limited to reducing climate impacts, or are there benefits in other areas?