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Author

MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative

Grades

9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College

Subjects

Science, Social Studies

Resource Types

  • Podcast, 13 minutes, 17 seconds
  • Worksheet
  • Data
  • Lesson Plan

Regional Focus

North America, United States

Format

PDF

Public Opinion and Climate Change

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Synopsis
  • This lesson plan discusses media literacy, climate change in politics, and the motivations for creating controversy about climate change. 
  •  It discusses availability bias, confirmation bias, the error in presenting "both sides" of an issue that is not two-sided, and a recent survey of climate opinions in the United States.
Teaching Tips

Positives

  • The materials included with the podcast make it easy for educators to use this resource in many subject areas.
  • It encourages students to think holistically.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with the terms bipartisan, regulatory action, economy, and salience. 
  • The podcast explains that in the early 2000s, the media reported on both sides of the issue of climate change. It may be helpful for students to see an example of the media downplaying the scientific consensus that climate change is human-caused.
  • The link for Conservatives for Energy Freedom in the Dive Deeper section is broken.
  • The link to Common Sense Media on page four of the teacher pages is broken.

Differentiation

  • Civics, government, or media literacy classes could discuss how all types of media (including social media) influences public opinion. Students could think about the role that the influencers and others they follow on social media have on their own beliefs.
  • The interactive media bias chart could be used for social studies or language arts classes to investigate the reporting of an issue from a number of different media outlets. Consider looking up a specific topic on multiple media websites to see how they covered the topic differently.
Scientist Notes
This lesson from MIT dives into why there is such a stark political divide in who is demanding climate action. All of the sources are provided for this non-partisan discussion. This resource is recommended for teaching.
Standards
  • English Language Arts
    • Reading (K-12)
      • R.9-12.12 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
  • Social Studies
    • Civics & Government
      • Civics & Government 1 (F2): Students understand the ideals, purposes, principles, structures, and processes of constitutional government in the United States and in the American political system, as well as examples of other forms of government and political systems in the world by explaining how and why democratic institutions and interpretations of democratic ideals and constitutional principles change over time.
      • Civics & Government 1 (D1): Students understand the ideals, purposes, principles, structures, and processes of constitutional government in the United States and in the American political system, as well as examples of other forms of government and political systems in the world by evaluating and comparing the relationship of citizens with government in the United States and other regions of the world.
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