Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Hyderabad
TIFR Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences

TIFR-H Community Outreach

Climate Challenge

Projects Ideas for Students

Climate change is the global challenge of our generation. Even as we search for global and national responses to this challenge we need to develop local understandings and identify local possibilities for action. The TIFR-H Outreach team presents some questions and tasks by which young people can engage with the issue of climate change. These project topics are free for use by schools, colleges, teachers, students and communities. We do request that you send us your feedback from using them.

These projects aim to help students critically analyse and evaluate information about climate change which is freely available online, and to develop their original perspectives on the problem of climate change. The outcome of the project may be a report, an essay, a video, a poem, a sketch, or a combination of these. The suggested age is 12-20 years.

Please write to us if you find these tasks useful in your and your school or community’s engagement with the vital issue of climate change. Do also let us know your learnings from this experiences and your suggestions for adding to these resources. Your feedback will be useful for our next stage of the climate challenge project.

Note of clarification: TIFR Hyderabad does not accept project entries directly.

Jayashree Ramadas
outreach at tifrh dot res dot in
March 2018

Topics for the Climate Challenge Projects

1. Is the earth’s climate changing? Why?

How much has the earth’s climate changed over the past years? What are the measures by which we can determine if climate has been changing? Has the rate of climate change increased over the past decades?

What could be different reasons for climate change? Which factors could be responsible for radical changes in climate? Are there connections between pollution and climate change? Is climate change caused by human activity? How do we know?

2. Why does climate change matter?

What can be the impacts of climate change? What kind of changes in weather can we expect in the future, and why? What could be the impacts on agriculture, economy, health, ecosystems and human survival?


3. Could violent conflicts increase under climate change?

Competition and conflicts over resources have been a fixture in human history. Recent scientific work has indicated that a drought lasting several years contributed to inflaming the Syrian conflict. Present day human induced climate change is expected to increase drought conditions in several parts of the world. Other climate extremes such as heat waves, floods, tropical cyclones are also expected to be impacted by climate change to differing degrees. Does this foretell potential for greater human and natural conflict? Is climate change playing a role in exacerbating farming pressure and contributing to the agrarian crisis in India? What does the science tell us?

This project is about studying what current science says about the threat of climate change in increasing the potential for conflict.

1. Syrian crisis and droughts: http://www.pnas.org/content/112/11/3241.full
2. Chapter 12.5 in Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): https://ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg2/WGIIAR5-Chap12_FINAL.pdf

4. Why do so many of us doubt climate change?

Or do we recognise it and yet act as if it is not true?

David W. Orr
Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse

George Marshall
Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change

5. How can we answer climate skeptics?

Is temperature really rising? Is carbon dioxide really a greenhouse gas? Can humans really have an impact on a system as big and sophisticated as the Earth’s climate? How do we know anything about the Earth’s past climate? Science progresses through asking questions and being skeptical. Yet, certain objections are raised repeatedly to question the current state of knowledge on climate change despite having been often and convincingly debunked by climate scientists.

These and other related questions are often raised by “climate skeptics” to question the science of climate change. Whatever the motivation, these are important questions to ask. And even more important to answer accurately and precisely.

The goal of this project is to understand the usual objections raised to argue against human induced climate change, and to understand exactly what the science tells us.

1. Skeptical science: https://www.skepticalscience.com/
2. Science of Doom: https://scienceofdoom.com/

6. Local action on climate change

How could we reverse or mitigate the impacts of climate change? What kind of changes in lifestyles, policies, systems and philosophies would you suggest? What can individuals, complexes, societies, cities, villages do, with or without the government? What would be the costs and the gains?

DIY techniques: https://publiclab.org/

7. Expressing climate change through poetry, cartoons and humour (suggested topics)

* Arguments of climate change contrarians
* Impacts of climate change on extreme weather like heat waves (more?)
* The debate between developing and developed countries on climate action
* Using renewable energy sources
* Climate change from the perspective of a coral reef
* Climate change from the perspective of an Indian farmer
* How does the Amazon forest see climate change?
* How is my cell phone changing the climate?
* How is my laptop causing resource conflict in Africa?
* Banning fossil fuels
* Global politics of climate change

Examples and sources:
1. https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/climate-change-explained-10-cartoons
2. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2008/jul/23/climatechange.scienceofclimatechange
3. http://www.cartoonistgroup.com/subject/The-Climate+Change-Comics-and-Cartoons.php
4. https://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/directory/c/climate_change.asp
5. Poetry: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/may/11/an-anthology-of-poetry-on-climate-change
6. Humour: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jun/19/peoples-climate-march-al-gore-leonardo-dicaprio-climate-change
7. Understanding climate change: https://scienceofdoom.com/
8. Climate change visualizations: https://climate.nasa.gov/interactives/climate-time-machine
9. NASA global climate change: https://climate.nasa.gov/

Task design credits:

Chirag Dhara
Shaily Maloo

Jayashree Ramadas
March 2018