Global Interdependence

Author: Sylvia Kniest & Marti Lindsey

Based on the Global Warming: Early Warning Signs website

Time: 4 class periods
Prepare lecture on 4 geo-spheres
Copy handouts
Photo copy and cut out “trekking shoes” .
Schedule lab for two class periods

For each student
Global Warming Race Instructions
Handout A - Warm up
Handout B - Field Notes

Race Log
9 Trekking Shoes

Computer lab access


The issue of climate change is a good example of how the physical features of the earth: air, water, living organisms, and land are all interconnected. The scientific community has reached a strong consensus on the issue of climate change. Their evidence supports the idea that our planet is warming due to the emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases. This lesson will allow students the opportunity to explore this theory by participating in a road race.

Students will be able to:
1. Discuss the theory of climate change.
2. Identify examples of how climate change impacts the earth’s geo-spheres.
3. Use the example of climate change to describe the interdependence of the earth’s four geo-spheres.

National Geography Standard
Standard 1: How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information.
Standard 7: The physical processes that shape the patterns of the earth's surface.
Standard 14: How human actions modify the physical environment.
Standard 15: How physical systems affect human systems.

Teacher Background
From Matt Rosenberg, Your Guide to Geography. http://geography.about.com/od/physicalgeography/a/fourspheres.htm is a good source for background information on the earth’s geo-spheres.

Related and Resource Websites
http://geography.about.com/od/physicalgeography/a/fourspheres.htm “Your Guide to Geography”
http://www.climatehotmap.org/ for the Global Warming Race and access to the global warming map
http://yosemite.epa.gov/oar/globalwarming.nsf/content/ImpactsWaterResources.html EPA: Global Warming Impacts



Day 1

1. Give a brief lecture on the four geo-spheres of planet earth: lithosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere. A good source is Your Guide to Geography by Matt Rosenberg at: http://geography.about.com/od/physicalgeography/a/fourspheres.htm. As students take notes, ask them to list examples of each geo-sphere.

2. Ask students to get into in small groups to brainstorm how climate change encompasses all of the geo-spheres. Remind students of the previous lesson, “The Warming Planet”. After five to ten minutes have the groups share their ideas; list student responses on the board.

3. Tell the students that they are going to participate in an imaginary road race that will take them around the world.

First they will become familiar with the website by doing a warm up exercise. Give the students Warm up exercise (Handout A) for this exercise, where they will learn the meaning of the terms used in the Race.

They will travel to 8 different regions of the world where they will compete to obtain a pair of trekking shoes that will transport them to the next region. In order to obtain the shoes they will need to complete a special task that will be given to them by the race director (you the teacher). Give each student a Race Log.

Tell them that the log must be presented to the race director at the completion of each regional race to be stamped. Once their log has been stamped they will be given a pair of trekking shoes that will transport them to the next regional race. A student competitor who has received a stamp at each regional race will have successfully completed the race.

Global Warming Race Log Instructions:

Go to http://www.climatehotmap.org/

For each regional race you will click on the appropriate map at http://www.climatehotmap.org/ in order to find the required information to record in your field notebook and complete the race.

Your race log must be stamped by the race director (teacher) at the completion of each regional assignment in order to receive the “trekking shoes” that will transport you to the next regional race.

1. To complete each regional race you must complete three tasks:

A) List three examples from the region that validates the theory of global warming.
B) Identify each example as having an impact on one of the four geo-spheres;
Lithosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, or atmosphere.
C) Show your field notebook (Handout B) to the race director in order to have your race log stamped.
D) After your log has been stamped you will receive the “trekking shoes” that will transport you to the next region.

Day 2: Take students to the computer lab for the race.

Give each student a warm up exercise sheet, an instruction sheet, a race log, and the field notes sheet.

After they complete the warm up give them the first pair of trekking shoes. As they complete the assignments for each continent give them additional trekking shoes. They will collect 9 shoes in all. The shoes can be glued or taped to the race log.

Options: You may want to give all of the students the same assignment /trekking shoes so they all start the race in the same place or you may divide the class into eight groups and have each group begin in a different region of the world.

Trekking Shoes

One shoe for each continent for each student cut from the trekking shoes sheet.


Day 3: If possible take the students to the computer lab for the final activity or copy the following articles “Global Warming-Impacts, Water Resources”, “Environmental Quality & Recreation” and “Flood Control” at

1. Have students read the articles or explore the site to learn the impact that global warming can have on water supplies.

2. Have students answer the following questions:

  • How will your quality of life change without an adequate supply of water?
  • How might our health be affected?
  • What impact can global warming have on our economy?
  • Which regions of the United States would be most affected by the impact of global warming on our water supplies?

3. Have students brainstorm the following questions in small groups:

  • What significant changes do you believe will occur in the United States in the next 50 years if global warming continues? List as many changes that you can think of.
  • From the list you created with your partners, describe an imaginary scenario of what life will be like in the United States fifty years from now.

Drawing upon their field notebooks students should discuss, as a class, the issue of climate change. Ask students if they believe that there is compelling evidence to support the contention that the earth is getting warmer as a result of human actions. If so, what do they believe world leaders should do?

Embedded Assessment
Students will be assessed on their responses in their field notebook and successful completion of the race.
Their ability to synthesis and apply the information they’ve gathered can be assessed in the class discussion to demonstrate their grasp of the theory of climate change. Do they identify examples of how climate change impacts the earth’s geo-spheres? Do they use the example of climate change to describe the interdependence of the earth’s four geo-spheres?

PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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