Social Studies can help students consider global warming and the impact of GHG emissions with a focus on the cultural, economic, and political influences on our thinking, decisions, and actions.

The following are a few example questions that might help initiate or deepen student discussion and exploration – 

  • The collapse of some ancient civilizations has been attributed to practices that conflicted with their ecological setting. What lessons do the past have for us as we consider current practices in relation to global warming?
    • Example: the demise of the civilizations of the Fertile Crescent due, in part, to agriculture 
  • How do governmental agencies address global warming and other environmental concerns?
  • How do corporate boardrooms address global warming and other environmental concerns?
  • How can we as citizens participate more effectively in shaping government policies and decisions on environmental concerns and sustainable practices?
  • How well does the mainstream or commercial media do in providing meaningful coverage of global warming and climate change?
    • How does the extent and depth of media coverage on climate compare to coverage on entertainment and sports?
  • What are the meanings and usage of labels such as “Tree-Hugger,” “Climate Denier,” “Social Justice,” “Inconvenient Truth,” “ Conservative,” “Liberal,” and “People Power”?
  • If the sea level rises by just 1 meter, how many people will be displaced in the U.S.? How many will be displaced in South East Asia and the Pacific Islands?
    • What will be the impacts if the sea-level rise is 10 meters, as some current projections indicate is possible?

Big Ideas

  • Practices that have short-term economic value but are not ecologically sustainable, may lead ultimately to the collapse of complex societies like our own.
  • An informed citizenry is be needed to move government and corporate policies and decisions towards sustainability, perhaps generating alternative approaches.

Additional Resources for Social Studies

Also see Economics & Business, Government, HistoryResources That Apply to Many Subjects, and Teacher-Recommended Readings for Students.