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WebQuests (ICT Integration)

Why Is It Warmer? (human Causes)

Global warming is a hot topic around the world. Many scientists who are concerned about global warming believe that we are creating dangerous changes in the Earth’s climate and think that world leaders need to address this issue immediately. Other scientists say that human society has not caused global warming. Instead, they think that Earth’s warming climate is a result of natural changes in our environment that are caused by solar activity, volcanoes, and other natural occurrences.

Who is telling the truth? What is causing global warming and how do we prevent it? Anyway, is global warming such a big problem anyway? What do you think?


A United Nations forum will invite experts on both sides of the argument to present their views on global warming. This forum will provide the UN with the information they need to make an informed decision about the causes of global warming and to provide recommendations to the world’s leaders about what needs to be done to stop it or to deal with the resulting climate changes.

You are part of a team of scientists who works for an environmental research group. This team will go to the UN forum to tell them that global warming is a human phenomenon, and to ask them take action to create a plan that will limit the use of products that increase greenhouse gases. Your position is that without such regulations, humans can cause irreversible devastation to the planet. Your team must find information to support this position and you should be prepared to provide some examples of the impact global warming has on the environment. You and your fellow scientists must also be ready to argue against statements made at the forum that disagree with your position.


To complete this assignment, you will work in teams of four within each scenario, and your team must complete the following tasks:
  1. Find data to support your position. Use the research guide (see your roles under Process below) to help you collect information.
  2. Decide how to use the data you have found to support your position. Discuss this with your team, using the analyser to assist you. You will also create a chart or graph(s) using Microsoft Excel to illustrate your argument.
  3. On a storyboard pad, storyboard template, or chart paper, create a storyboard to plan your PowerPoint presentation. The storyboard should include notes for you to refer back to during the debate. Think about how your opponents may use the same information to present their argument and include information to counter their statements.
  4. Create a PowerPoint presentation that emphasises the main points of your argument. Include your graph(s) in the presentation. Use PowerPoint’s note feature to add information to support your argument. Include a bibliography to cite the sources you used. It is optional to use any additional resources to support your team presentation. For example, you may produce flyers to distribute to the audience.
  5. Participate in a forum to share your team’s presentation and listen to how the other teams present their positions. Be prepared to answer questions and support your own argument if learners who researched the opposing view of the debate ask you to defend your position.
For this assignment, you will work in teams of four and you will divide your task into roles as follows (click on each role for more information):

Our task is to research information about environment conditions such as temperature change, greenhouse gases and possible warning signs of global warming. Visit the following sites in order to find information that will help you complete the task below:

» http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/
EPA Global Warming Site

» http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/03/22/tech/main504436.shtml
Is Global Warming Nature's Work?

» http://www.climatehotmap.org/
Early Signs of Global Warming

Consider these questions:
1. What is global warming?
2. What causes temperatures to increase?
3. How has the climate changed?
4. What are greenhouse gases?
5. Which greenhouse gases are naturally occurring and which ones are caused by human processes?
6. What are some of the early warning signs of global warming?
Your task is to research the effects of global warming that are occurring in Earth's ecosystems. Visit the following site in order to find information that will help you complete the task below:

» http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/
EPA Information About the Impact of Global Warming

What effect is global warming having on the ecosystem? Include information from polar regions, mountains, wetlands, deserts, forests and rangelands. What are its effects on the plants and animals?
Your task is to study data about plate tectonics, sunspots and the Milankovitch Cycle. Visit the following sites in order to find information that will help you complete the task below:

» http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/
Global Warming: What's Happening?

» http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/paleo/milankovitch.html
The Astronomical Theory of Climate Change

» http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/56456.stm
Scientists Blame Sun for Global Warming

» http://www.groundwork.org.za/Booklets/BK5.pdf
This booklet, developed by Groundwork, details South African's carbon age and current pollution information.

What activities are causing global warming according to these websites? Evaluate the websites listed here for bias as you research information about each of the activities that may contribute to global warming. Provide a thorough explanation for each item.
Your task is to research information about rises in sea levels and temperature changes to create a spreadsheet that shows trends.

Visit the following site in order to find information that will help you complete task 1 below:

» http://ilikai.soest.hawaii.edu/uhslc/woce.html
Find information about sea levels from 1985 to present at the University of Hawaii Sea Level Center site.

Use a globe or atlas and the coordinates provided at this Web site to choose four different locations (longitude and latitude). Include locations near the equator as well as near the poles. Collect data from 1985, 1988, 1991, 1994, 1997, 2000 and 2003 for each of the locations. Record your data in a Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet.

Visit the following sites in order to find information that will help you complete task 2 below:

» http://www.mbari.org/bog/Projects/Peru/peruhome.htm
Compare sea surface temperatures using the temperature archives.

» http://www.climate.weatheroffice.ec.gc.ca/climateData/canada_e.html
Climate Data for Canada compare temperatures from 1840–present for the different provinces of Canada

» http://members.iinet.net.au/~jacob/perthstats.html
Perth Australia Temperature archives 1994–2002

Are temperatures rising? Use these Web sites to examine historical data on temperatures in Canada , Peru and Australia . Select a variety of years to study temperature trends. How can you use this data to support your stance?


» http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/warming/
This site provides information about the Frontline/Nova video that examined the debate about global warming. The site includes transcripts, interviews, video clips, graphs and a teacher’s guide.

» http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/03/22/tech/main504436.shtml
This is a CBS news report that discusses possible causes of global warming. This site also includes a video.

» http://www.mbari.org/bog/Projects/Peru/peruhome.htm
Compare sea surface temperatures using the temperature archives available at this site.

» http://www.climate.weatheroffice.ec.gc.ca/climateData/canada_e.html
Climate data for Canada allows you to compare temperatures from 1840 to the present for Canadian provinces.

» http://members.iinet.net.au/~jacob/perthstats.html
This site provides temperature archives for Perth, Australia, from 1994 through 2002.

» http://ilikai.soest.hawaii.edu/uhslc/woce.html
This University of Hawaii site offers information about sea levels from 1985 to the present.

» http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/paleo/milankovitch.html
This site provides information about the Milankovitch Theory. The Milankovitch, or astronomical theory of climate change, is an explanation for changes in the seasons that result from changes in the earth’s orbit around the sun.

» http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/56456.stm
This news article provides information about solar activity and its effect on Earth’s temperatures.

» http://www.weathersa.co.za/web/index.php/corporate/education?&id=160
SA weather services website with climate questions.

» http://www.ngo.grida.no/soesa/nsoer/issues/climate/index.htm
This site contains the National State of the Environment Report for South Africa looking specifically at climatic and atmospheric change. The site has links to a variety of data sites.

» http://www.groundwork.org.za/Booklets/BK5.pdf
This booklet developed by Groundwork details South African’s carbon age and current pollution information


By completing this activity you and your team should have gained a good insight into the issue of global warning not only from your own team's perspective, but also by listening to the arguments of the opposing teams. Now that you have heard different viewpoints, supported by facts, what is your opinion?

» Download the Presentation Assessment

Related Scenarios

» A Whale of a Problem
» Ivory Everywhere, Tusk Tusk
» Why is it Warmer (natural causes)?
» Water, Water Everywhere

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