The Pacific island nation of Kiribati recently announced its purchase of land in mountainous Fiji for its population to move to when sea level rises make life on its own low-lying islands impossible. In this activity students use data to predict sea level rises, including uncertainties, and decide whether humans are to blame for climate change. If humans are to blame, then should the biggest polluters pay for land for vulnerable islanders to escape to?
- Apply knowledge about climate change to explain rising sea levels
- Make a prediction about rising sea levels and estimate the uncertainty in their prediction
- Evaluate evidence to decide whether humans are to blame for climate change
Try the activity
England National Curriculum KS3:
- Working Scientifically: Analysis and evaluation – evaluate data showing awareness of potential sources of random and systematic error.
- Chemistry: Earth and atmosphere – the production of carbon dioxide by human activity and the impact on climate.
GCSE Combined Science subject content:
- Working Scientifically: Analysis and evaluation – representing distributions of results and make estimations of uncertainty.
- Chemistry: Earth and atmospheric science – carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.
This activity can be run in 30 minutes or be extended to 50 mins.
Running the activity
Starter Discover that Kiribati has bought land for its islanders to escape to. Explain rising sea levels.
Core task Make predictions about rising sea levels in Kiribati.
Plenary Discuss the impact of rising sea levels on the people of Kiribati.
Extension Evaluate evidence to decide whether humans are to blame for climate change.
Plenary Vote on whether climate culprits should buy land for vulnerable islanders to escape to.
For detailed running notes, download the teachers guide.
Video outlining the challenges faced by Kiribati as a result of rising sea levels.
Recent article about Kiribati’s purchase of land in mountainous Fiji for vulnerable islanders to escape to when the time comes.
Pictures about life on the islands.
Useful teacher background and student extension materials. See, for example, the summaries for policy makers.