Lesson Plan – Climate Change and Migration
Climate Change and Migration
Students explore the choices communities face as they grapple with the effects of climate change in this five day introduction to climate change and migration.
- Examining a variety of perpectives for an in-depth look at the complexities of the choice
- Designing a resillience rubric focused on available choices and imminent effects of climate change
- Making a hypothetical choice to stay on or leave Isle de Jean Charles and using various resources to explain the choice (example: Sea Level Rise Models, etc)
- Following the possible consequences of the proposed choice as random impacts unfold
- Organizing and communicating the take-aways from this exploration
Students will identify the specific impacts that an effect of climate change is having on a community.
Students will examine the complexities of possible choices for individuals and the state as they react to the effects of climate change.
Students will generate a tool that can be used to measure resilience as the effects of climate change evolve.
Students will identify possible outcomes of a variety of impacts related to climate change and migration.
Visit the Isle de Jean Charles band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe's "Tribal Resettlement" webpage and read the following Los Angeles Times article for background on this topic.
"On a sinking Louisiana island, many aren’t ready to leave"
Students will examine a variety of perspectives concerning Isle de Jean Charles using evidence from an article about the choice of whether to stay or go in the face of environmental and economic factors.
Students will identify concerns and needs, influencing factors, and adaptive strategies of residents faced with the possibility of migrating from their homes.
Short Film: Isle de Jean Charles
1963 and 2008 aerial photos of Isle de Jean Charles (source USGS/PBS)
Article: "The Skeleton of Isle de Jean Charles"
Worksheet: Isle de Jean Charles' Perspectives
Ask students if they have ever moved from one place to another. Why did they move? Ask them to share their feelings about the move. Did they have any input on the move?
Explain that moving, or migration, has always been a part of the human experience, and that species move for many different reasons.
Make a list of the reasons people move with the students. If they specify climate change, use it to segue to the Isle de Jean Charles video. Add climate change to the list if students do not include it.
Share the video on Isle de Jean Charles. Do the students recall similar feelings they may have had when they moved?
Find Isle de Jean Charles on Google Maps. Have students reflect on how this location determines what risks the population may be exposed to.
View the 1963 and 2008 aerial photos of Isle de Jean Charles and discuss them. What factors have contributed to the current situation? (construction of the levees, oil industry channelization, saltwater intrusion, strong storms, sea-level rise)
Pair up and read the "The Skeleton of Isle de Jean Charles" article. Have students use the article to explore the various perspectives.
Complete Isle de Jean Charles' Perspectives. Have students pair up and focus on one perspective. Make sure each perspective is represented. Students can add the evidence from the article and their own inferences based on prior knowledge and conclusions.
Discuss each of the perspectives as a class. What is the author's agenda? Who has been left out of these perspectives? How has poverty influenced any of the perspectives? Why might the Army Corps of Engineers have left Isle de Jean Charles out of the levee protections? How could the oil companies be held accountable for not following through on their promises? What are the economic opportunities for each of the perspectives?
Assessment: Completed worksheets and observation during discussions.
Students will create a resilience rubric for use in measuring coastal communities ability to adapt to the effects of climate change.
Students will identify important factors to consider when measuring a community's resilience.
Article: "How Native American Communities are Addressing Climate Change"
Reference Material: "Synthesis of Adaptation Options for Coastal Areas"
Worksheet: Climate Change in Isle de Jean Charles and the Republic of the Marshall Islands
Reference Material: A Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu
Map: Indigenous People's Resilience Actions Map
Isle de Jean Charles Information: "The Story of Isle de Jean Charles"
Republic of the Marshall Islands Information: "An Evacuation Notice in the Middle of the Night"
Ask students what it means to be resilient in the face of sea-level rise and climate change? How would they determine a communities' ability to be resilient? What factors should be considered? List their ideas.
Read and discuss "How Native American Communities are Addressing Climate Change."
Explain that rubrics, like the risk assessments generated by the tribes, can be used to measure resilience based on the factors (i.e. economic opportunities, health services, education access, disaster preparedness, cultural heritage preservation, natural resources, etc) they identified. Review rubrics if necessary.
Pair up and create a rubric that incorporates the factors that they feel are most important in determining a communities' ability to adapt to sea-level rise.
Compare and contrast (use the Climate Change in Isle de Jean Charles and the Republic of the Marshall Islands worksheet) Isle de Jean Charles with a second coastal native community. Many tribes are determining their own responses to climate change's effects. Find Isle de Jean Charles on the Indigenous People's Resilience Actions Map. (Feel free to explore the climate adaptation plans of other tribes on the map.) Ask students to compare the information for Isle de Jean Charles with the information for the Republic of the Marshall Islands. (Find it on the map, Pacific Ocean.) How can their rubric help determine if these communities might be resilient?
Completed rubrics, worksheets, and observation during discussions.
Students will make and defend their hypothetical choice to stay or go based on their own analysis of various data.
Students will analyze data to inform a decision.
Article: "Isle de Jean Charles Tribe Turns Down Funds to Relocate First US 'Climate Refugees' as Louisiana Buys Land Anyway"
Article: "Deadline set for Residents of Vanishing Isle de Jean Charles to Apply for Relocation"
Worksheet: An Informed Decision - Data's Role
Computer and Internet
Data to Explore:
Coastal Master Plan Projects Map
A CPRA map highlighting projects designed to mitigate coastal land loss and other coastal threats.
Coastal Snapshots: Terrebonne Parish
A NOAA website that focuses in, by parish, on data such as ocean-based jobs, wetland benefits, and flood exposure with easy to read graphs and charts.
A NOAA website that shows the tracks, categories, and other information about named and unnamed storms.
The Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Home Page
A webpage that explores this tribe's history and cultural ties to Isle de Jean Charles.
A States at Risk webpage with data on coastal flooding in Louisiana including sea level rise by zip code.
A CPRA report with easy to read data on coastal land loss, flood depths from storm surge, insurance premiums, flood losses and risks, population changes, job changes, etc. Can be given as a printed set (specific pages) of a variety of data.
Resettlement of Isle de Jean Charles: Background and Overview
A PDF from the State of Louisiana outlining the resettlement proposal for residents of Isle de Jean Charles.
NOAA's tool that allows people to view areas that will be impacted by varying degrees of sea level rise.
A CPRA PDF that has data on a variety of factors that can be used to determine vulnerability in populations in coastal Louisiana.
A NOAA website that allows for searches, by parish, for specific weather-related events over specified timelines.
An EPA resource that focuses on data for severe coastal threats such as hurricane tracks and frequency, as well as storm surge.
Reflect on the previous two sessions. What concerns/issues were voiced? How do you know if a community can be resilient in the face of climate change? How does this information inform someone's decision-making process? How do historical and cultural ties to a place factor in to someone's choice to stay or leave?
Read and discuss "Isle de Jean Charles Tribe Turns Down Funds to Relocate First US 'Climate Refugees' as Louisiana Buys Land Anyway" and "Deadline set for Residents of Vanishing Isle de Jean Charles to Apply for Relocation."
Explain that they will be making a hypothetical decision to stay or leave the island based on data they find to support their decision, but that they should also consider qualitative data that includes historical and cultural ties to the island.
Ask students what factors they think they would be considering when making this choice. Where would they find data about these factors. Why is data important when making this decision? What factors would be important but not be framed by data? Record their answers.
Pair up and complete the An Informed Decision - Data's Role worksheet. Students can use the included websites and Pdfs (see "Data to Explore" under materials) or websites that they locate.
Share and discuss the choices that each pair made. Graph the results. How many people decided to stay on the island? How many people are leaving the island? What was the most compelling factor that influenced their choice? Was it data or another factor (ex. historical ties, cultural heritage, etc)? Remind students that though this was a hypothetical exercise, actual people are faced with these critical decisions.
Completed worksheets and observation during discussions.
Students will follow the consequences of their hypothetical choices by creating mind maps that incorporate art and information about possible impacts.
Students will identify possible outcomes for various choices.
Video: Next Wave
Article: "How-to-Guide for Environmental Refugees"
Possible Impacts Reference Sheet
Paper and Colored Pencils
Reflect on the choices that students made in Session 3. Why did they decide to stay or leave? How will their choices be shaped by various impacts as the years pass?
Share the video Next Wave. How are the choices these islanders faced similar to the choices the residents of Isle de Jean Charles have to make? What might be the consequences of these choices?
Explain that they will be exploring a variety of impacts (example: natural disasters, economic changes, environmental projects, community relations, etc) that could affect residents of Isle de Jean Charles as they decide whether to stay or leave.
Ask students to imagine what types of events and actions could impact them after they have made their choice to stay or leave. Create a list.
Pair up and complete the Possible Impacts Reference Sheet. How many of the possible impacts that they identified are included on the worksheet? Have students chose two impacts to focus on and explore. The outcomes and connections should be related to their own hypothetical decisions on whether they chose to stay or leave Isle de Jean Charles.
Create mind maps for each of the two impacts that the teams explored on their worksheets using oversized paper and colored pencils. Review mind maps if needed. Encourage artistic creativity with solid connections between the impacts and their consequences.
Share and discuss the resulting mind maps. In what ways did their decisions to stay or leave change the effects of the same impact, a hurricane, for example? What impacts had positive effects? Why? How did both choices present challenges in regards to the outcomes of various impacts?
Completed worksheets, mind maps, and observation during discussions.
Students will share their new understandings on the available choices and consequences for climate migrants while considering the importance of who controls the narrative for potential climate migrants.
Students will consider the importance of who shapes narratives concerning potential climate migrants.
Reference Material: Preserving Our Place
Article: "Saving a Town from Rising Water"
Press Release: "The Isle de Jean Charles Tribal Resettlement: A Tribal-driven, whole community process"
Worksheet: Isle de Jean Charles' Inconceivable Choice
Read and Reflect on page 25 and 26 of Preserving Our Place. In what ways have these sessions shaped the narrative of the people of Isle de Jean Charles? What questions should outsiders hold space for as they explore the issues facing communities they are not a part of?
Share the article"Saving a Town from Rising Water" with the students and the press release, "The Isle de Jean Charles Tribal Resettlement: A Tribal-driven, whole community process." How have choices outside the community shaped the current situation (examples: oil companies' channels and the Army Corps of Engineers' decision to leave the island out of the levee system, the State of Louisiana's proposed auction of lots to non-tribal members). How is Diamond, LA a cautionary tale for vulnerable communities?
Explain that environmental justice is a factor that is central to communities that have been historically marginalized.
Ask students to reflect on whether the peoples of Isle de Jean Charles who are still there or who have already moved may or may not have had adequate input into the fate of Isle de Jean Charles. How should the perspectives of residents and former residents of Isle de Jean Charles, including members of the United Houma Nation and non-natives, be factored in to discussions about Isle de Jean Charles? How could consultation with these community members have altered projects such as the oil company channels? The levee protections? If Isle de Jean Charles is not a federally recognized native reservation, what protections do they have in regards to their land?
Complete the Isle de Jean Charles' Inconceivable Choice worksheet as a way to reflect on what each individual student has learned.
Share and discuss students answers. Where can they find out more about this topic? What aspects of this exploration had the most impact on their thinking about this topic?
Completed worksheets and observation during discussions.