Teach About Climate Change With These 24 New York Times Graphs

Teach About Climate Change With These 24 New York Times Graphs

In the screen shot below, you can see a student, Madison from New Jersey, responding to Christian in Pittsburgh. One of the questions Madison asks is, “Are these the effects of naturally increasing temperatures, or the doing of man made emissions?”

Just like photographs, graphs tell stories. After students have “noticed and wondered,” we ask them: What’s going on in this graph? What story can it tell?

Here are some examples of the comments students made about the above graph about winter temperatures.

This graph shows that although the average winter temperature in the US is not increasing at a steady rate, overall the temperatures are getting warmer with time. This is in favour of the discussion about climate change causing global warming. — Tatyana from New Zealand

This graph depicts how the winter temperatures from the 1900s differ from the 2000s. And how the temperatures are gradually getting warmer. This could be happening due to global warming or maybe how they say the sun is gradually getting closer and closer to our planet. — Matthew Laing from Philadelphia

From brief observations, I can conclude that this is a graph depicting the differences between the average winter temperature in 1900 and the present average winter temperature at the time. Because of this, I’m curious if an increase in air pollution, carbon dioxide, and deforestation is responsible for the overall increase of winter temperatures on Earth. This graph could capture how pollution and an increase of carbon dioxide within the atmosphere because the gas prevents small bits of heat from the sun from escaping the Earth’s atmosphere, forcing it to bounce back to the Earth’s surface as more thermal energy from the sun reaches our planet. A similar phenomenon has been present on Venus, which, due to the gases within Venus’ atmosphere capturing the majority of thermal energy from the sun, has made Venus the hottest planet in the Solar System. — Ben S. from Allen Tex.

This past summer Robert Lochel, a math teacher in the Hatboro-Horsham School District, mentioned to us that he always asked students to write a catchy headline after they were done noticing and wondering. We liked the idea so much, we added it to our weekly protocol.

Here are a few examples of students’ headlines about the graph above.

• “You Thought This Winter Was Cold? Check This Graph,” by Nathan of Virginia

• “Is Earth on the Hot Seat?,” by Kero K. and Jon I. from Hampton High School

• “Dreaming of a Green Christmas,” by Isaac from Hampton High School

• “Doomsday Deviation,” by Michael, Harper, Joseph and Owen from Hampton High School