Eduhelpnet World Education Forum Australia Science Teachers Association Tasmania

Understanding Climate Change

 Understanding Mans' Influence  Carbon  Forests Water  
Population Growth  Living with Climate Change    Energy  Nature's Loss from Climate Change
Economics  Philosophy and Politics  What can the Individual do?  Glossary of Common Climate Change Terms Research Articles    


What is happening? The greenhouse gas story.

Why is it happening? Where does greenhouse gas pollution come from?

What can we expect?

How will this affect people?

The 33 facts on Global Warming



What is it? In what forms do we find it?

Why is CO2 concentration a concern?

CSIRO research graph on greenhouse gas levels

The carbon cycle.

 Graphs of CO2 release.

Are the increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases during the Industrial era caused by human activities?

Air travel is particularly dominant in the release of carbon. Why?

What is Carbon Neutral?

Soils are at risk of leaking 'old carbon' back into the atmosphere in a high-emissions world.

The amount of carbon sequestered by the delicate roots of plants remains hugely uncertain, suggests a new study.


The Role of forests in climatechange.  

Emission credits. The Case for trees isn't clear cut

History of forests loss in Australia.

Forest recovery – examples - The black death  and the collapse of Mayan civilization.

Why are forests important? What do they do?

The effects of deforestation on water and climate. The Amazon.

Forests and water.

How trees affect water flows.

Forests – Just a timber resource or something more? Forest values

Is a tree only what you can see?

How do trees trap carbon?

The size of the canopy.

The experiment, today known as the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project, found that the most seriously degraded forest with the least diversity were the smallest, one- hectare reserves, while the reserves that retained the most diversity were the ones of the largest area. In the smaller reserves, drying winds reached the interior, affecting tree species and resulting in more tree falls. Gaps in the canopy allowed more sunlight to reach the forest floor, further altering the understory microclimate and causing changes in the makeup of resident species. Larger herbivores left the patches since the limited number of trees could not provide sustenance, soon followed by predators, which could not cope with the loss of prey. The loss of predators caused an imbalance in the food chain, and the populations of small herbivores and omnivores increased, adding pressure on forest seed banks and impairing the reproducing ability of forest trees. Troops of army ants could not be supported by meager forest patches and they too left, along with the bird, butterfly, and other insect species that depended on the troop. Shade- loving plants and animal species died off as more sunlight penetrated the diminished canopy, and "gap" species, like vines and certain bird and insect species, proliferated. These losses continued to set off a chain reaction that caused profound changes in the system, eventually resulting in its collapse. 

The story of coal.

Do deserts play a part?  New research shows deserts exchange carbon dioxide at a rate similar to that of forests.



Weeping for Water an excellent summary of the world's current water problem

By Garda Ghista

Glacial melting

Press article from The Scotsman in 2002 warns of glacial melting evidence

Potable Water- Ockham's Razor 15th June 2008. Through the issue of recycled water in Toowoomba N.S.W, Emma Pratt demonstrates how the public react to their perception of scientific evidence.


Kennicott glacier


Ganges River

"The Gangotri glacier, the principal glacier that feeds The Ganges River is melting at an accelerated rate and could disappear entirely in a matter of decades" Lester Brown Read Plan B 3.0 Ch1 "Entering a New World"

The Andes

 The Andes (NB Bolivia)

"When Ice Turns to Water"- article from The Economist July 12th 2007

The future for the millions of people dependant on these rivers.

Wind, rain, storms and droughts – The effects of global warming.

Why are there more cyclones?

Potential changes in tropical cyclone occurrence and intensity are discussed in detail in the 2007 report, Climate Change in Australia, Technical Report - Chapter 5: Regional climate change projections (8.9MB) See: Chapter 5.9.1 Severe weather: Tropical cyclones. There is substantial evidence from theory and model experiments that the large-scale environment in which tropical cyclones form and evolve is changing as a result of greenhouse warming. Projected changes in tropical cyclones are subject to the sources of uncertainty inherent in climate change projections. These include errors in the modelled tropical cyclone climatology and regional patterns and magnitude of change for various fields and climate patterns such as ENSO. Consequently there is large uncertainty in the future change in tropical cyclone frequency projected by climate models.


Whose water is it anyway? Moral issues.

Growing deserts. Shrinking seas.- an article to stimulate discussion from The Earth Policy Institute.

Dams. Risks, benefits, limitations, and consequences.

WWF page on benefit analaysis

By damming rivers, humans have masked the full extent of surging sea levels, a new study finds.

 Loss of fertile deltas.

        Climate Change in Delta Regions  The effects of intensive urbanisation. There are some excellent points made in the section of this document in the section headed Ten Golden Rules

The Oceans

Ocean currents.

An explanation of Ocean Currents

world ocean currents

Map of World Ocean Currents

Coral reefs.

reef fish

Distribution and importance of coral reefs and the probable effects of climate change.


El Niño / La Niña

Climate Animations Recent Research Findings on Climate Change






The Murray-Darling Basin. 

Site map of The Murray Darling Basin Commission

Who owns the water in the Murray Darling catchment?



A rising population requiring more resources, exacerbated by a desire for affluence.- article by Kellie Tranter , a lawyer and political commentator. She is Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Legislation for BPW International

Population growth, population control. -By 2050, there will be an estimated 9 billion humans on the planet. Kerri Smith asks whether curbing the world's burgeoning population could help in tackling climate change.

Health care. State programs – Chinese 1 child policy.

Mass human migration. Why will it happen? How will we cope? What are the costs?

Civilizations that died when they outstripped their resources and altered the local climate – Mayan. Angkor Wat. Lessons to be learned and applied.


 Living with Climate Change

Where should we build our houses? Rising sea levels. Loss of agricultural land. Cities.

Architectural design (All new buildings in UK must be “carbon neutral” by 2016)

Living with nature.

How Weather Affects World Climate- an activity for developing understanding



How Weather Influences World Climate

Teacher Notes:

Understanding relationships: World Futures

  • Understanding Systems 

    Students who understand systems:

    Recognise interconnections within and between systems.

    Understand the connections between local and global environments ( social, natural and constructed).

    By exploring the ways in which scientists observe weather patterns and make judgements about climate effects, students will

    gain an understanding of casual relationships in systems including some of their effects on people.

What is weather? Visit and complete the interactive activities to develop a little understanding of the vocabulary.

wind direction; wind force; temperature; sunshine; visibility; cloud

What is Climate?

Visit to find an explanation of this.

 Grade 5/6 Science quiz interactive quiz on science knowledge.

Weather & Climate Quiz:

World temperature extremes

World temperature extremes:

What is the lowest temperature ever recorded in Australia. At which city was it recorded?

What is the highest temperature ever recorded in Australia. At which city was it recorded?

Find these places on the map of Australia. Are they  near the coast or inland?  Is there a difference?

Discuss this in small groups and report back to your teacher.
What are your findings. Is there a pattern as to where the extreme temperatures occur?

Discuss this with your teacher.

Form an hypothesis as to where extremes in temperature occur.

Scientists form hypotheses to predict what will occur. They then test these hypotheses by designing an experiment to prove or disprove their hypotheses.

With your teacher, discuss how you would prove or disprove the hypotheis

that "extremes of temperature occur in inland areas of a continent"

The Mallee duststorm of February 1983

The red soils of the Mallee vegetation type in central and northern Victoria are rich and sandy. They have been cleared of their native vegetation by farmers from the 1850s to develop areas suitable for grain growing. The soils are sandy, and in times of severe drought they can move under severe weather conditions as the roots of plants. Go to and read

Mallee dust storm Extremes of climate in Tasmania

El Nino

Visit  these sites to find out about El Nino.

El Nino 1.

El Nino 2.

How do scientists think El Nino affects the weather in Australia?


What is permafrost? Visit this link then make a brief summary for your group discussion.

What do scientists think is happening to the permafrost areas of Iceland?


Wildlife & Climate Quiz:

Causes of Climate Change:

Effects of Climate Change:



Non renewable energy  vs Renewable energy.  

Local power generation vs. national grid.

Nuclear power. Risks and benefits. Dealing with waste. History of accidents and leaks.

Carbon sequestration – What is it? Where can it be applied?  Is it a practical solution on a large scale?

Coal and climate change- the industry looks at the cost of closing down.

Continuing with coal- the industry is confident and is predicting good returns out to 2050. Is it ethical to be exporting material to other countries that will ultimately damage their sustainability?

The potential cost of pursuing the reliance on oil for transport

Alternative (renewable) fuels.

Bio-diesel, and alcohol. What are the benefits? What are the risks? How will it impact on food production and the environment. What happens if it involves land clearing?

Local food production vs. global transportation.

Alternative technology to reduce green house pollution.

Cars and Carbon dioxide-

Transport. Saving energy. The effect of jet aircraft on global worming.

Jet aircraft emit high levels of nitrous oxides, a greenhouse gas 320 times more potent than CO2, and other greenhouse gases into the upper atmosphere.

For this reason, aircraft emissions have about three times more global warming effect than the CO2 emitted by a road vehicle from the same amount of fuel.

Energy saving technology and devices.

Living Carbon neutral.

Knowing the carbon cost of all we do and all we buy.

Calculate your carbon footprint

EPA's Climate Change Emission Calculator Kit (Climate CHECK)

Carbon trading systems.



Identifying the environmental influences on sinks could help to explain fluctuations in atmospheric concentrations of methane, which remain poorly understood.

New research challenges the assumption that an increase in ocean temperatures associated with climate change will promote future jellyfish outbreaks.

Climate Change could bring insect swarms


The costs of climate change.

What are the costs of doing nothing?

What are the economic benefits of acting now?

The effect of consumerism.



Politics and pollution. Who pays?

How can countries work together?

What will make people and politicians put aside immediate self interest?

Custodian, exploiter or consumer?

Man, a part of nature or authority over it?

Who speaks for those that can not speak? (The animals, the marginalized, the planet)

Who owns the land?

What are the consequences of loss of biodiversity? Why is it important?

Wildlife, wilderness and natural spaces, an esthetic luxury or beyond value?