NOVA: Climate Change

This video segment describes climate data collection from Greenland ice cores that indicate Earth's climate can change abruptly over a single decade rather than over thousands of years. The narrator describes how Earth has undergone dramatic climate shifts in relatively short spans of time prior to 8000 years ago. The video and accompanying essay provide explanations of the differences between weather and climate and how the climate itself had been unstable in the past, with wide variations in temperature occurring over decadal timescales.

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

The video would be a great conversation starter or could be used before or after conducting ice core activities.

The discussion questions could be used as a starting point for discussion.

The fact that climate has changed in the past and will change abruptly in the future holds existential challenges ("why bother reducing carbon emissions if climate may change suddenly anyhow?") for educators. Focusing on adaptation as well as mitigation may help in framing this challenging topic.