Lesson Plans

Digging Deeper: Background Materials & Primary Sources

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When Hurricane Harvey struck Texas last summer, record rainfall caused catastrophic flooding. In six days, as much as 60 inches of rain fell, leaving at least 68 people dead and $125 billion in damage. One study found that climate change has made cataclysmic rain events like Harvey three times as common as they were. Harvey was a particularly slow-moving hurricane, making it significantly more destructive: The storm stood still and drenched already flood-prone areas. ‘‘There’s a good chance another event like Harvey will happen again,’’ said Adam Sobel, the director of Columbia University’s Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate. ‘‘This is the kind of thing we expect to see more and more, even if we stop emitting carbon today.’’ Image by George Steinmetz. Texas, 2017.

Why Dig Deeper?

The following resources will enable students’ deeper engagement with “Losing Earth” by Nathaniel Rich, and with contemporary discourse about climate change in general. These primary sources, collections of global news reporting, and supplementary classroom materials will allow students to understand better the political and environmental context that “Losing Earth” describes. 

Pulitzer Center Global Climate Reporting

The effects of climate change drastically alter daily life across the globe. The PDF attached below lists global climate news reporting that can be used in the classroom. The list of articles, photo series, videos, and audio recordings allow students to explore the threats caused by climate change across the globe, and present some innovative solutions that global communities are implementing to address these challenges.

Full index of Pulitzer Center Global Climate Reporting

Losing Earth Supplemental Timeline

The printable supplemental timeline attached below will help students and teachers situate “Losing Earth” within the major political and environmental events that occurred between 1957 and 1988. The timeline includes links to guide further exploration into the events and individuals mentioned.

June 23, 1988 Senate Hearing Transcript

During the June 23, 1988 Senate Hearing “Greenhouse Effect and Global Climate Change," James Hansen announced "that the greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now." During this historic senate hearing Hansen announced that scientists had detected the signal that climate change had begun to affect the planet.

May 8, 1989 Senate Hearing Transcript

During the May 8, 1989 Senate Hearing “Climate Surprises,” Senator Al Gore and scientist James Hansen make headlines by revealing an attempt by the White House to censor scientists during political hearings. The attached excerpt of the hearing includes both the testimony by Hansen and the question portion led by Senator Gore.

National Geographic Climate Resources

National Geographic's series, "Clips From Years of Living Dangeously," includes videos that examine the effect of climate change in communities around the world. Explore the rest of National Geographic's climate-related educational materials, including vocabularly lists, project ideas, and teaching guides. 

Climate resources from National Geographic 

Educator Notes: 

The activities listed above are designed to build on students' exploration of The New York Time Magazine's "Losing Earth," which was written by Nathaniel Rich and includes photography from George Steinmetz. For support facilitating the exercises above, or with connecting a journalist to your classroom, email education@pulitzercenter.org to connect with a member of our staff.

You can find more related educational resources at www.pulitzercenter.org/nytclimate.

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