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Choices About the Climate

7) Climate change will have consequences for the Earth system and human lives.

By learning more about the climate, these students prepare themselves for the choices society will make about climate change in years to come.By learning more about the climate, these students prepare themselves for the choices society will make about climate change in years to come.

The impact of human activity on the climate system extends beyond warming of the atmosphere to the warming of the ocean and land surfaces, the acidification of water in the ocean, the raising of sea level (now estimated at 3-5 feet [1-1.5 meters] on a global average by 2100), and a variety of substantial changes to agriculture, ecosystems, and public health.

The changes to climate that are occurring due to human activities will be largely irreversible for a thousand years after emissions stop, according to recent studies (such as Solomon et al., “Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 2008).

CLEAN’s “Teaching Essential Principle 7” provides overview of the content, why it is important, related pedagogical challenges, and examples of high quality resources by grade level. Also see: “The Detection and Attribution of Climate Change from NOAA.”

Continue to the next section to find out how humans can take actions to reduce climate change and its impacts.