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MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies

Resource Types

  • Podcasts, 13 minutes, 17 seconds
  • Worksheets
  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables
  • Lesson Plans

Regional Focus

North America, United States



Public Opinion and Climate Change

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  • This lesson plan discusses media literacy, climate change in politics, and the motivations for creating controversy about climate change. 
  •  It discusses availability bias, confirmation bias, the error in presenting "both sides" of an issue that is not two-sided, and a recent survey of climate opinions in the United States.
Teaching Tips


  • The materials included with the podcast make it easy for educators to use this resource in many subject areas.
  • It encourages students to think holistically.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with the terms bipartisan, regulatory action, economy, and salience. 
  • The podcast explains that in the early 2000s, the media reported on both sides of the issue of climate change. It may be helpful for students to see an example of the media downplaying the scientific consensus that climate change is human-caused.
  • The link for Conservatives for Energy Freedom in the Dive Deeper section is broken.
  • The link to Common Sense Media on page four of the teacher pages is broken.


  • Civics, government, or media literacy classes could discuss how all types of media (including social media) influences public opinion. Students could think about the role that the influencers and others they follow on social media have on their own beliefs.
  • The interactive media bias chart could be used for social studies or language arts classes to investigate the reporting of an issue from a number of different media outlets. Consider looking up a specific topic on multiple media websites to see how they covered the topic differently.
Scientist Notes
This lesson from MIT dives into why there is such a stark political divide in who is demanding climate action. All of the sources are provided for this non-partisan discussion. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Civics
      • D2.Civ.10.9-12 Analyze the impact and the appropriate roles of personal interests and perspectives on the application of civic virtues, democratic principles, constitutional rights, and human rights.
      • D2.Civ.13.9-12 Evaluate public policies in terms of intended and unintended outcomes, and related consequences.
      • D2.Civ.5.9-12 Evaluate citizens' and institutions' effectiveness in addressing social and political problems at the local, state, tribal, national, and/or international level.
    • Dimension 4: Taking Informed Action
      • D4.6.9-12 Use disciplinary and interdisciplinary lenses to understand the characteristics and causes of local, regional, and global problems; instances of such problems in multiple contexts; and challenges and opportunities faced by those trying to address these problems over time and place.
      • D4.7.9-12 Assess options for individual and collective action to address local, regional, and global problems by engaging in self-reflection, strategy identification, and complex causal reasoning.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.10 By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.9 Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.
  • Common Core Math Standards (CCSS.MATH)
    • Statistics & Probability: Making Inferences & Justifying Conclusions (9-12)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSS.IC.B.6 Evaluate reports based on data.
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