This article explains that scientists gathered information on forest fires and were able to eliminate causes other than climate change from the equation. The result was that they found that the amount of forest dry enough to pose a high threat of forest fires increased 75% because of climate change between 1987 and 2015. The article goes on to explain the reasons for this and to explore some ideas surrounding the issue.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Environmental studies, world issues

Key Questions to Explore:

  • How is climate change impacting forest fires?
  • How is climate change causing severe weather?

Materials Needed:

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

Extreme weather events have been on the increase for the past few years and, more and more, attention is being paid to their connection to climate change. Catastrophic forest fires have burned for days, consuming thousands and thousands of acres, powerful hurricanes have devastated countries and droughts have wreaked havoc around the globe. Increasingly, scientists have provided evidence of the link between these events and climate change. This lesson will have the students initially examine the forest fire issue by discussing the article and then explore this connection between climate change and floods, droughts, winter weather, hurricanes and heat waves.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Ask the students if they think that there has been an increase in extreme weather events.
  • Get their response and list some of the examples they give.
  • Ask them to speculate on the causes of this increase.
  • Indicate to them that scientists have increasingly been able to separate the causes of these events and have found that climate change has been a major factor.
  • Provide them with a copy of the article and allow them time to read it.
  • Get their responses to what they have just read.
  • Indicate to them that climate change also contributes to other extreme weather events.
  • Divide the class into five groups and assign one of the following weather events to each group:
    • Hurricanes
    • Heat Waves
    • Floods
    • Droughts
    • Winter weather.
  • Instruct them to access the following website, and using it as their source of information, have them develop a presentation which shows how climate change is contributing to extreme events associated with their assigned topic.
  • Allow them time to develop that report.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Have each group present its report and allow time for any questions or comments arising from the presentation.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

  • The students will be able to explain the connection between climate change and extreme weather events, providing evidence to support their position.

Confirming Activity:

  • Have the students document any extreme weather developments over the remainder of term and present those events to the class to monitor the degree to which extreme weather appears to be increasing.