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5 Ways to Make Human Impact on Climate Change A More Approachable Topic

Akanksha Saxena
Earth Science
High School
Teaching with Labster

Introduction: Human Impact on Climate Change

We learn about the ecological balance getting disturbed every day in some or the other news article. We are witnessing increasing rates of deforestation, rising sea levels, ozone depletion, retreating glaciers, and plants and animal species getting threatened and eventually extinct in front of our eyes. And we are still foolishly ignoring the impending future that will bring all sorts of issues that will doom mankind.

According to a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the picture that we have painted for ourselves and other living organisms on the planet isn’t very promising. The difficult times are closer than we anticipated and the world is predicted to face major shortages of food, natural resources, and water and increased cases of natural disasters, extinction events and major fluctuations in the Earth’s climate by 2040.

The climate of the planet is no doubt changed by natural factors, but that rate is relatively null when compared to what anthropogenic activities do. The human impact on climate change can be made clear by quoting the “1.5°C” increase in global temperatures after industrialization. 

While we all remain busy in the hustle and bustle of our lives, we have grown apart from what survives us; this planet and its health. Teaching this topic to not just bring a change in the personal demeanor of students but also bigger changes that are compatible with this 1.5°C increase in global temperature should be the aim of educators.

When we are teaching our students about the human impact of climate change, we should try to equip them with tools that they can potentially put to use and serve as future scientists who can work for this cause.

We understand that teaching this topic requires educators to work at the interface of traditional teaching while updating a lot of recent information. This is why we have compiled some resources here that you can use in your next class to bring more substance to the topic. This article can provide some help as it attempts to identify the major issues encountered by students while learning about this topic. It also lists practical solutions that teachers and educators can incorporate in their next class. By the end, we’ll convince you why a virtual lab simulation will be helpful not only for your students but also for you as an educator to deliver concepts more efficiently.

Why can Human Impact on Climate Change be tricky to teach or learn?

There are 3 reasons why students dread and get confused about the topic of Human Impact on Climate Change. Acknowledging these issues is the first step toward making the topic more approachable. 

1. Difficulty in translating theoretical knowledge to practical utility

Students or educators, no one is unaware of the scale at which climate change is happening. Yes, it’s on a global scale! Students as curious as they are, tend to feel quite incompetent in bringing revolutionary changes at a global level. When educators talk about the different effects of climate change, several ideas come to the students’ minds. But they often feel amateurish to act on them. On top of this, rarely do we educate our students in the direction of making changes, no matter how big or small they seem. We keep talking about the problem and not the solutions!  

2. The data richness of this topic can be perturbing

Usually, the data related to climate change is retrieved from decade-long studies that take into account several variables, natural versus human-created changes, confidence limits on those figures, etc. This can be quite overwhelming for students. Without knowing how to filter, sort and make sense of this data, it’s nothing but bulky files for them. A general lack of interest or training in statistical analyses and impact studies is noted among most students.

3. Unawareness of career prospects

Few people are conscious about the planet they live on and try to align with nature's way without looking for personal gains. But in a general sense, we all are quite preoccupied with the hustle of life. In that line, this topic offers less to apply in one’s professional career. Most students from high school and university/college level are generally unaware of their future career prospects in the field. Learning about climate change thus becomes just another subject and not a path one wants to walk on.

5 ways to make Human Impact on Climate Change a more approachable topic to understand

To address the issues encountered while teaching this topic, educators can engage the under-listed solutions in their classes. These can decode many different aspects of Human Impact on Climate Change. Not only can they make teaching easier for educators like you but they will also make lessons clearer and easier to assimilate for your students.

1. Build the foundation well  

The foremost advice to all educators dealing with this topic is to lay a solid foundation for all your students. Explain the frequently used terminologies for different processes, mechanisms, and phenomena. This will help them understand climate change-related research papers, op-ed articles, blogs, and reports in a better way. Teach them how to assort important and unimportant parts of literature published concerning this topic. To begin with, we list a few subtopics that you can cover in your next class.

  • Difference between “natural” and “anthropogenic” related climate change

  • The timescale of natural changes [You can use the Timescales of Change simulation by Labster to explain this phenomenon]

  • Greenhouse gas emissions and global warming

  • Pre-industrial and post-industrial changes in environment and climate

  • History of Earth (“Ice ages” and its glacial (cooler) and interglacial (warmer) periods; “Greenhouse periods” and the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere)

  • Major greenhouse gases emitters (housing, industries, transportation, etc)

  • Major greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, fluorinated carbons) 

2. Conduct more active discussions 

Once your students are clear about the basic terminologies and phenomena, we encourage involving your students in more active discussions. This can teach them to gather resources, stay updated and innovate as they learn. Introduce them to well-known journals, editorial sections, organizations, international conventions, national groups and policy-making bodies where they can overlook how climate change is being discussed and dealt with. 

Teaching your students to be caring is the best thing one can do while dealing with this topic of human impact on climate change. There will always be a great proportion of the human creed that doesn’t care about this topic, but we should motivate our students to become the part that cares, always!

Teach them to become a part of the solution, not a problem!

We mention some well-known portals you can introduce to your students.

human impact climate change virtual lab 2

Figure: A snippet from Human Impact on Climate Change simulation by Labster. Full simulation is available for High School classes.

3. Use more infographics, illustrations, and flowcharts 

The lessons might feel too textual to students. Explaining details about changes and relative increase/decrease is always more effective when done via illustrative or graphical means. We recommend the usage of more infographics to convey ideas and concepts about human impact on climate change.

Anthropogenic Climate Change

Figure: Anthropogenic factors impacting climate change. Image Source

4. Make them see the prospects!

Since the practical world runs on money, you can’t ignore your students weighing a subject’s worth by its scope in the monetary world. As your effort, we advise you to carry out this specific action. Make them see how the world has quickly transitioned over the past 5-6 years to incorporate subjects called “sustainable energy systems”, “carbon economics”, and “renewable energy engineering”, etc in their academic institutions. Yes, you heard it right. It’s a full-fledged course with a high incoming rate of applications each year in world-renowned institutions. MNCs and big-shot companies are actively hiring candidates who are proficient in this subject. Since governments are becoming more aware, industries and multi-dollar businesses are being made responsible for their negative contributions to climate change and carbon footprints. 

So, the scope of studying this topic is immense. And this is what we need to inform our young learners about. To invigorate interest and passion for the field, this step is mandatory.

5. Use virtual lab simulations

This topic on climate change and particularly the roles of anthropogenic factors requires due attention and emphasis in all academic institutions. For the times that are ahead of us and the impending dangers of climate change that we are quite aware of, our next generation of scientists needs to be pre-equipped with a lot of skills to deal with all and everything.

Teachers dealing with this subject often face a gap while conveying essential topics and concepts. To bridge the gaps that are still left, we have brought the Human Impact on Climate Change simulation that can make learning a joyful ride for your students. It saves you time assorting resources as the simulation is full of activities, virtual lab experiences, games, and quizzes.

We encourage modern-day educators to make the most of this simulation from Labster. It takes your students into a virtual world where they can actively engage in the experiments and make full use of the gamification elements to imbibe important concepts. By using this way of active and immersive teaching, our virtual learning platform takes an advent in the field of Science to make the upcoming scientists thorough with the “basics of their respective subjects”. 

human impact climate change virtual lab 3

Figure: A snippet from Human Impact on Climate Change simulation by Labster. Full simulation is available for High School classes.

You can learn more about the Human Impact on Climate Change simulation here or get in touch to find out how you can start using virtual labs with your students.

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