The topic of climate change is one that has been debated extensively in the public. Proponents of climate change advocate the position that human activities contribute to changes in our global climate and that immediate and drastic cuts in the emissions of greenhouse gases are necessary. Skeptics question some of the methodologies used to reach this conclusion and suggest that other factors, such as the influence of natural climate cycles, be taken into account before a consensus can be reached.
The purpose of this lesson plan is not to support or question the concept of climate change, but utilize the topic as a springboard to discuss how weather patterns impact drinking water sources.
Certainly, a link can be made between changes in temperature and precipitation patterns to the availability of reliable drinking water supplies. For example:
- A rise in temperature may result in increased evaporation rates from surface waters, as well as from ground substrate that absorbs water and recharges aquifers.
- Reduced precipitation can result in a drop of water levels in surface water bodies. Elevated temperatures along with reduced precipitation can exacerbate potential water shortages.
- Conversely, too much precipitation within a short period of time can cause problems, including flooding and drastic changes in the quality of the source water.
Regardless of your position, climate change is a topic worth exploring and debating, and one that can be used to further the awareness of water resource sustainability.
For this lesson plan, students will explore the possible impacts of weather patterns on drinking water supplies. Follow-up lessons could involve a discussion of how changes in human activity could help mitigate potential adverse impacts of climate change, as well as alternative methods using technology, including desalination and grey water recycling, to reduce our reliance on our freshwater supplies.