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Food and Climate Change – How can we feed a growing world population without increasing global warming?

In this analysis and discussion activity, students learn how food production results in the release of three greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), and methane (CH4). Students analyze carbon and nitrogen cycles to understand how agriculture results in increased CO2 and N2O in the atmosphere.

Students interpret data concerning the very different amounts of greenhouse gases released during the production of various types of food; they apply concepts related to trophic pyramids and learn about CH4 release by ruminants.

Finally, students propose, research, and evaluate strategies to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that will be released during future production of food for the world’s growing population.

The Student Handout is available in the first two attached files and as a Google doc designed for use in online instruction and distance learning. The Teacher Notes, available in the last two attached files, provide instructional suggestions and background information and explain how this activity is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards.

FoodGlobalWarmingSHO.docx2.65 MB
FoodGlobalWarmingSHO.pdf747.29 KB
FoodGlobalWarmingTN.docx2.38 MB
FoodGlobalWarmingTN.pdf953.99 KB


iwaldron's picture

2022 revision

I have revised the Student Handout for clarity and accuracy. Also, I have updated the Reliable Relevant Sources for student reports in the Student Handout. I have updated and added information and references in the Teacher Notes.


iwaldron's picture

2021 revision

The Student Handout has been revised to improve the logical sequence, clarify some of the questions, add better figures, and include an introduction to the nitrogen cycle.
Ingrid Waldron

iwaldron's picture

2019 revision

The 2019 revision has updated some of the data and links. The Student Handout has been revised to improve the clarity of many of the questions and explanations. The Teacher Notes have been reorganized and revised for greater clarity.

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