1 Climate change


New Wider World unit 13 has a significant section devoted to climate change.

It is important to know that your GCSE exam responses must mention man’s effect on global warming and your answers must be in line with these views in order to achieve the marks, as we can seen from mark schemes of earlier exams and from examiners’ reports.

While you must remember to say all the “right” things in the exam, this is a topic where we need to understand there are two points of view. There are climate scientists who disagree with the explanations of global warming and say that change is partly due to man-made CO2 gases but mainly a result of natural cycles of climate.  Education is about examining the full picture, not just one side of it. Your textbook only presents one side of the argument. We shall look at all views.


Resources explaining climate science, climate change and climate impacts – mostly from a standpoint in favour of the theory of man-made global warming due to carbon emissions.

A good place to start looking at the climate change debate is the popular Al Gore film,  An Inconvenient Truth.  We shall look at a shortened version showing the main points but the full film is available in episodes on You Tube if you wish to watch it all.

In a later talk in 2016 Al Gore poses three questions that will determine the future of our planet.  He is founder and chairman of The Climate Reality Project.

The scientist Stephen Schneider spent most of his career warning about climate change and the following video takes a longer term view, setting out the case he was arguing from the 1970s.  This 12 minute film is also good for setting out the problem of anthropogenic global warming.

IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.    www.ipcc.ch

Royal Society 2010 summary of the climate change science: (PDF file) Royal Society summary

British Meteorological Office provides a wealth of information on climate. http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate-guide

What factors determine earth’s climate? http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faq-1-1.html

The IPCC 2007 Fourth Assessment Report

97 Hours of Consensus. This is fun! Click on each figure to get a scientist quote on global warming!

97% of scientists

NASA site: Global Climate Change – Vital Signs of the Planet  http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/  See the first global maps of atmospheric carbon dioxide from NASA’s new Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 mission demonstrate its performance and promise, showing elevated carbon dioxide concentrations across the Southern Hemisphere from springtime biomass burning.  NASA Education Pages  The introduction explains the pro-warming stance: “These key ideas relate to the causes and effects of human-induced climate change. The potential for human activities to increase the temperature of the Earth through greenhouse gas emissions has been described and calculated for over a century. Volumes of scientific research across multiple scientific disciplines now support this principle.”

Carbon Brief: a UK blog providing background issue briefings, analysis and fact checks on climate science and energy policy media coverage.

Department of Energy and Climate Change: website detailing the latest government policy, publications and announcements on climate change and energy.

DECC My2050: online interactive computer game, to explore practical ways to cut UK emissions by 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.

Met Office my climate and me: Q+As and video clips on climate change and climate change impacts answered by experts.

Met Office climate change guide: Online FAQs covering the basics of climate science and climate change.

NASA: Evidence for climate change from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Royal Society (PDF): “Climate change: a summary of the science” is a report reviewing the evidence for climate change.

Science Media Centre: evidence-based summary issue briefings on climate change on themes ranging from polar ice loss to changes in global temperature.

Skeptical Science blog: a blog examining climate change science based on peer-reviewed scientific literature and rebutting climate change misinformation.

The Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government: Sir John Beddington’s review of the science of climate change.

The Committee on Climate Change: FAQs and explanatory articles on themes including ‘the science of climate change’, ‘mitigation’ (cutting emissions), adaptation (coping with potential impacts) and the legal context (legislation in place to tackle climate change). The CCC is an independent, statutory body set up under the Climate Change Act of 2008 to advice the UK government on tackling climate change.

The Guardian Ultimate Climate Change FAQ: short explanatory articles written by experts on topics ranging from the basics of climate science through to policy options to manage climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): answers to FAQs about climate change, from the scientific body established by the United Nations Environment Programme and World Meteorological Organisation to provide the latest scientific view on the state of knowledge on climate change and its potential impacts.

The Science Museum: information on climate change to accompany their Atmosphere gallery exhibition – what might happen and our future choices.

The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (PDF): government report from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), setting out the latest evidence on climate risks faced by the UK (PDF).

The Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics looks at the economics of climate change, and “aims to inform policy and academic debate”. It is funded by a grant of twelve million pounds   http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/climate-change/

National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is responsible for preserving, monitoring, assessing, and providing public access to the Nation’s treasure of climate and historical weather data and information. Paleoclimatology: where do we get our information about past climate? http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/news/what-are-proxy-data

NOAA Arctic pages: http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/index.shtml


Before the Flood

We have seen that every generation, from the 1970s to the present, has presented its concerns in different ways about climate change.  Sometimes the understanding of the issues has been popularised in full-length films.  Leonardo di Caprio, an actor famous for his roles in films such as Titanic, has been a close follower of the arguments about climate change for a long while.  He knew Al Gore and was inspired by the film An Inconvenient Truth  (see above), so eventually  he decided to make a film which would speak to a new generation.  Before the Flood (2016) is a well made documentary that presents the anthropogenic climate change arguments in a clear narrative that shows – in addition – the present effects of the changes, such as sea level rise.

The film takes as its central visual motif a fifteenth century tryptych by Hieronymous Bosch (now in the Prado in Madrid).  The subject of the central panel – Before the Flood – is used to awaken the audience to the idea that an overpopulated world must wake up to the dangers before we enter the nightmare world of the third panel of the tryptych.


The right panel illustrates Hell. Bosch depicts a world in which humans reap eternal damnation… Compared to the warmth of the centre panel, the right wing possesses a chilling quality, with cities on fire in the background, conflict and war everywhere.  Di Caprio uses this as an image representing the world to come, if we do not take action on climate change.

When the wing panels of the tryptych are closed we see the world on the third day of creation before the arrival of human beings. It bears a remarkable likeness to the views of earth seen from space that we are now familiar with.




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