Climate Change and Passive Solar Energy


You are probably familiar with the concept of climate change and some of the things that cause it. The resources on this sheet will help you learn more about it.


After you have reviewed what you know about climate change with your class, watch Consensus Sense, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. As you watch the video, answer these questions on your Climate Change and Passive Solar Energy student sheet. You’ll discuss them in class.

  • What percentage of the world's climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening?
  • What are some of the risks of climate change?
  • What do you think about Katherine Hayhoe's idea about buying "insurance" for the risks of climate change? How do you think that would work?
  • What are the benefits of being more efficient with energy and investing in things like passive solar design?
  • After listening to some of the examples the scientists provide for the assessment of risk and the importance of taking action, do you have some ideas about what could be done to reduce the risks of climate change?

Now visit Climate Change: How Do We Know? to learn more about global climate change. Answer these questions on your student sheet.

  • Looking at the graph of CO2 levels, it is clear that CO2 varies over time. However, the graph climbs rapidly in the recent past. What could have caused that increase? Does it seem logical that it could be a natural occurrence?
  • Read the brief descriptions of the evidence for global warming. Which evidence seems most compelling to you?
  • Click on the Causes tab. Some gases in the atmosphere are said to be forcing climate change, while others are seen as feedbacks. Explain the difference between the two, and list the gases that fit in each category.
  • What is the probability that human activity has contributed to the global climate change that has been observed? 
  • Is it likely that the sun is responsible for the observed changes? Explain.

Now, you should focus on solutions. Go to Be Part of the Solution. There are many technologies that can help to reduce our impact on the climate. Click the technologies link. On this page, it shows that most of those technologies focus on using less energy or obtaining energy in different ways. Look at a few of them. You can record your answers on your student sheet.

  • Wind Energy: What is a wind farm and where might you find one?
  • Geothermal Energy: What are the two types of geothermal energy and how do they work?
  • Which type of geothermal energy would work best where you live?
  • Energy Efficient Buildings: What are some ways we can save energy in our homes and other buildings?
  • Solar Energy: List and describe the three types of solar energy discussed in the article.

According to Energy.gov, heating and cooling accounts for nearly half of the energy used in homes in the U.S. Passive solar energy can significantly reduce the energy use. Thermal mass is a key component of passive solar energy design. Go to Thermal Mass to learn more about the concept.

  • What is a solar mass?
  • What are some materials that are commonly used as a solar mass?

This esheet is a part of the Mitigating Climate Change through Passive Solar Design lesson.

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Esheet Details

Grades Project 2061 Benchmarks National Science Standards