Teaching Climate: Scientists and Kids Explore Global Warming

How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate
Image from Gray Braasch's new book: How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate
Photo by Elise Nicol

Award-wining photojournalist and author of Earth Under Fire, Gary Braasch, has teamed up with children's environmental writer Lynne Cherry to create a book on the science behind the headlines on Climate Change. How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate shows how scientists track data on global warming and tells the stories of children all over the world that help collect this data.

The book is accompanied by a teacher's guide with lesson plans for grades 5-8 that get students thinking about the knowledge behind global warming news and lets them take actions.

DOWNLOAD :: Sample of grade 5-8 lesson plans [PDF document]

POSTER :: What You—and a Million Kids—Can Do [PDF document]

PHOTO ESSAY :: Gary Braasch's Earth Under Fire



Image from Gray Braasch' new book: How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate

What You—and a Million Kids—Can Do

The things you do every day use energy and release greenhouse gases into the air. From sunrise to sunset, and even through the night as your house keeps you comfortable, you are using energy—and leaving a climate footprint. When you flip a switch to turn on a light, a power plant somewhere burns fossil fuels. Gasoline powers cars, trucks, SUVs, lawnmowers, leaf-blowers, and boats, and sends up clouds of anthropogenic—human generated—CO2. One gallon of gas gives off nearly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide.

The actions below will reduce your climate footprint. They are easy changes that will make a difference right away. And it is better to prevent your own CO2 from going skyward than to pay someone else to “carbon offset” your emissions.

We have selected related YES! Stories of people making these changes in their lives and tips on what is possible.



Walk or ride your bike to school
…if it’s safe. Use public transportation. Shop near your home and make one trip instead of many. Vacation by train rather than airplane.
spacer Transition Town Westcliff, in the UK. This photo: sustainable transportation. Photo by Debbie Burnett
YES Archive button Getting There Carbon Free

What can we do about transportation: Feet, bikes, buses, and an all-electric fleet. By Guy Dauncey.
YES! Magazine #45, Climate Solutions



YES earth bulletStop idling and ask your parents to drive an energy-efficient car.
Idling the car 10 minutes less a day will save 550 pounds of CO2 per year. Driving a car that gets at least 32 miles per gallon saves 5,200 pounds of CO2 per year. Some hybrids can get 50 miles per gallon!

spacer electric car
YES Story button Secret Life of Plug-In Cars

Plug-in hybrids and electric cars can run on wind or solar power, and driving an all-electric vehicle cuts greenhouse gas emissions by up to 65 percent. A cool car review from Plug In America. By Sherry Boschert.
YES! Magazine #45, Climate Solutions



YES earth bulletRe-use, recycle and reduce.
...paper, glass and plastic. Start or improve a recycling program in your community and school.
YES Story button YES! But How?

Practical tips on green living from the YES! team.
YES! Magazine Online, YES! But How?

YES Story button A school recycling program in Tumwater, WA

Jana Dean talked to her 8th-graders about climate change and they developed a recycling program for their school.
YES! Magazine Online, Education Connection



YES earth bulletReplace
incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents.
spacer lightbulb man, YES! Magazine graphic
YES Story button Beyond Lightbulbs

Meet the Joneses. They are your average U.S. energy consumer. And they decide to do their part. Watch how they go carbon neutral in a decade… and then try it yourself. By Brooke Jarvis and Doug Pibel.
YES! Magazine #45, Climate Solutions



YES earth bulletUnplug your house.
Heat and electricity in your house make up one-third of the average family’s greenhouse emissions. Turn things off, unplug them, and use appliances less.
spacer The San Francisco Federal Building, completed in 2007, harvests sun and breezes to replace electric lighting and air conditioning. Photo by timhaleyphotography.com
YES Story button Smart, Green Buildings

The U.S. emits the equivalent of 7.26 gigatonnes of CO2 annually. Our buildings contribute 2.49 gigatonnes of that. What Can We Do: Guy Dauncey outlines our options for Smart, Green Buildings.
YES! Magazine #45, Climate Solutions



YES earth bulletDrink filtered tap water
rather than buying water in plastic bottles. Carry your own reusable travel-cup for drinks, rather than throwing away bottles and cups each day.
spacer Stefan Mackowski, 3, flanked by sisters Sarah and Shannon, enjoys the water on Halfmoon Lake in Barnstead, N.H. Photo by Channing Johnson for YES! Magazine. www.channingjohnson.com
YES Story button Bottled Water Flim-flam

The consumer life carries invisible chains. Let’s make spaces where we can be free. Step off the path. By Christa Camendzind.
YES! Magazine #28, Whose Water


YES Story button Communities Take Power

The citizens of Barnstead, New Hampshire, used local law to keep corporate giants out of their water. By Doug Pibel
YES! Magazine #43, Stand Up to Corporate Power



YES earth bulletHelp to preserve old trees in forests,
especially rain forests, which soak up a lot of CO2. If a million kids each raise $100 which is used to protect a million acres of tropical forest, those forests will continue to absorb and store 286,000,000 tons of CO2 per year.

spacer Campaigners of SOS Yasuni spell the words LIVE YASUNI in the Yasuni National Park. For updates and more details on the plans to protect Yasuni see www.sosyasuni.org. Photo courtesy SOS Yasuni.
YES Story button Ecuador: Protecting Diverse Forests and Peoples

Ecuador's president Rafael Correa offered to stop development of one of the country's largest oil reserves in exchange for debt relief. It's an experiment that could bring equity and human rights into the climate equation. By Brooke Jarvis.
YES! Magazine #45, Climate Solutions


YES Story button Appalachia—Down a Greener Road

In Appalachia people have learned that going green isn't all about what you have to give up, but it can make your life richer. By Madeline Ostrander.
YES! Magazine #45, Climate Solutions



YES earth bulletEat less meat.
Cows and sheep produce methane, a greenhouse gas. Raising and processing livestock creates more greenhouse emissions than all the gases from cars and SUVs combined.
spacer Eighteen percent of the climate change problem is associated with raising, feeding, and transporting meat. Cutting back on meat consumption is a way to immediately reduce climate impact. Photo by Dagmar Nelson, milkaway.smugmug.com
YES Story button The Solution on Your Dinner Pate

Farm industries create 18% of global greenhouse gases, the solution to lowering that lies in eating vegetarian and choosing local foods. By Guy Dauncey.
YES! Magazine #45 Climate Solutions

YES Story button Judy Wicks :: In Business for Life

Judy Wicks and her White Dog Cafe go local and start the Fair Food Project.
YES! Magazine #40, Go Local!



YES earth bulletBuy mindfully and buy less.
Think: Where did it come from? What was it made from? Buy locally grown, in-season food, which takes less fuel to transport, or grow some of your own. Buy un-packaged products. Think about thneeds. A thneed, as Dr. Seuss said in The Lorax, is something you think you need but don’t really need.

spacer Plastic Bottles, 2007. Depicts two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes. Image from Running the Numbers by Chris Jordan. www.chrisjordan.com
YES Story button Why Buying Local is Good for You

Money spent locally has a huge multiplier effect for your local economy. Check out the numbers.
YES! Magazine #40, Go Local!


YES Story button Chris Jordan :: Portraits of American Mass Consumption

Startling images present our waste through the lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on.
YES! Magazine Online, Photo Essay


YES Story button Creating Real Prosperity

Going local is good for everyone—including the world's poorest, says Frances Moore Lappé.
YES! Magazine #40, Go Local!



YES earth bulletShare what you’ve learned with your school.
Help your school to be smarter about climate change. Encourage your school to recycle, reduce throw-aways, encourage car-pooling, stop school bus idling, and install a green roof and solar panels.

spacer Redmond High students take on climate change. Photo by Justine Simon
YES Story button Youth Feel the Power

They have the most to lose, but they've got the energy to win. By Shadia Fayne Wood.
YES! Magazine #45, Climate Solutions


YES Story button Redmond Students Cool Down Their School

Big changes are made as a group of high school students teach their teachers a thing or two about climate change. By Justine Simon.
YES! Magazine Online, Education Connection



YES earth bulletGet involved in your community.

Write a letter to the newspaper editor suggesting that the town reduce its CO2 emissions. Ask elected officials to sign the Step It Up pledge. Volunteer to help town leaders who are already doing something. Let companies know that you care about using less energy.

spacer Citizens of Transition Town Westcliff, in the United Kingdom, are exploring how to prepare for a carbon-constrained world. The town is creating an Energy Descent Action Plan. This photo: community gardens. Photos by Fred Robinson
YES Story button Climate Solutions Resource Guide

Our resources are a combination of some of the best science plus the most powerful actions available: Organizations, Grassroots Action, Climate Crisis Library, and more...
YES! Magazine #45, Climate Solutions


YES Story button First, Step Up

Some just talk about the weather. Bill McKibben shows what we can do about it.
YES! Magazine #45, Climate Solutions


YES Story button The Transition Town Movement

Less carbon—more skills and connection. How neighbors are coming together to create post-carbon communities. By Doug Pibel.
YES! Magazine #45, Climate Solutions


Reprinted from How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate with kind permission of Dawn Publications.

How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate
by Lynne Cherry and Gary Braasch

Dawn Publications, 2008, 66 pages, $17.95

spacer Teacher's Guide
by Carol L. Malnor

Dawn Publications, 2008, 56 pages, $8.95




No Paywall. No Ads. Just Readers Like You.
You can help fund powerful stories to light the way forward.
Donate Now.