The Controversial Bush Energy Program

An opening activity, four student readings, and a set of teaching strategies on the complex and interrelated energy and environmental problems facing the U.S.

by Alan Shapiro


To the Teacher:

Energy and environmental problems are complex and interrelated. Below is an opening activity, four student readings that aim to open up some basic issues for examination, and a set of teaching strategies to use in whatever combination most appropriate for your class.


1. Ask students to imagine that they are living at the beginning of U.S. history more than 200 years ago. In what ways would their lives be different? List student responses on the chalkboard. They will probably include such items as the use of horses for transportation, candles for lighting, wood-burning fires for heating and cooking.

2. Ask students to take five minutes to list every device with an energy source —overhead light, toaster, radiator— that they have used or experienced so far today. List a sampling of responses on the chalkboard. Each of us uses substantial amounts of energy, most of it from fossil fuel sources—coal, oil, natural gas—which are also the main sources of global warming. Others include methane, nitrous oxides, chlorofluorocarbons, and ozone. Climate change resulting from global warming has many potential consequences, among them changes in rainfall patterns and agricultural production, rising sea levels and floods, severe heat waves, and droughts.

3. How many miles per gallon does each vehicle in your family get? (If mpg are unknown, assume that each car gets approximately 28 mpg). Burning one gallon of gasoline produces 20 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2). Approximately how many pounds of CO2 has your driving experience over the past week released into the atmosphere? (If your family uses mass transit to get around, you are responsible for producing only a tiny amount of carbon dioxide per person!)

4. Carbon dioxide accounts for about half of all greenhouse gases—and about 13 percent of the total CO2 produced worldwide comes from cars. All fossil fuels when burned for industrial, home and other uses produce CO2, although in different amounts. Through our use of energy for heating, air conditioning, transportation, lighting, etc., each of us contributes to the increasing amount of greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere that are producing global warming.

5. The energy policies of every nation are important, but none is more important than that of the United States, which is responsible for about 25 percent of the emissions causing global warming. U.S. energy and global warming policies will be the subject of our study.


Student Reading 1:

What is President Bush's energy plan?


You switch on a lamp. You drive to a movie. You cook some scrambled eggs.

A moment's thought tells us that in each of these ordinary acts we are using energy, energy whose source is most likely to be a fossil fuel—oil, natural gas, coal—that is the provider of so many necessities and pleasures but that is also a major source of air pollution, the degradation of public lands, global warming. For 85 percent of our energy comes from fossil fuels— approximately 40 percent from oil, 25 percent from natural gas, and 20 percent from coal. Nuclear power provides just 8 percent of our energy and much of the rest comes from renewable sources like wind and solar power. The U.S. has only 4 percent of the world's population and 3 percent of its oil reserves but uses 25 percent of world oil production and must import more than one-half of that oil.

We have come to know both the blessings of energy and its dangers. So these days our nation's energy policies are of concern to every human being who breathes, drinks, eats or enjoys seeing or walking in forests and public lands.

Upon taking office, President Bush appointed Vice President Dick Cheney to lead the National Energy Policy Development Group, a special energy taskforce to make recommendations to him about U.S. energy policy. In May 2001 the taskforce issued its report, which the President supported. In a speech in St. Paul, Minnesota on May 17, 2001 he outlined its major features:

"The plan addresses all three key aspects of the energy equation: demand, supply, and the means to match them. First it reduces demand by promoting innovation and technology to make us the world leader in efficiency and conservation....Our energy plan will speed up progress on conservation, where it has slowed, and restart it where it has failed. It will underwrite research and development into energy-saving technology. It will require manufacturers to build more energy-efficient appliances....Outdated buildings and factories have to be upgraded or replaced to consume less and pollute less. And here, some well-intentioned regulations have created a Catch 22—procedures intended to protect the environment have too often blocked environmental progress by discouraging companies from installing newer and cleaner equipment. Wise regulation and American innovation will make this country the world's leader in energy efficiency and conservation in the 21st century....

"....the second part of our energy plan will be to expand and diversify our nation's energy supplies. Diversity is important not only for energy security, but also for national security. Over-dependence on any one source of energy, especially a foreign source, leaves us vulnerable to price shocks, supply interruptions, and in the worst case, blackmail. America today imports 52 percent of all our oil. If we don't take action, those imports will only grow. As long as cars and trucks run on gasoline, we will need oil, and we should produce more of it at home. New technology makes drilling for oil far more productive, as well as environmentally friendly, than it was 30 or 40 years ago....And America needs to generate more electricity. The Department of Energy estimates that America will need between 1,300 and 1,900 new power plans over the next two decades.

"More than half of the electricity generated in America today comes from coal....Yet coal presents an environmental challenge. So our plan funds research into new, clean coal technologies. It calls on Congress to enact strict new multi-pollutant legislation, to reduce emissions from electric power plants.
"My administration's energy plan anticipates that most new electric plants will be fueled by the cleanest of all fossil fuels, natural gas....But our ability to develop gas resources has been hampered by restrictions on natural gas exploration. Our ability to deliver gas to consumers has been hindered by opposition to construction of new pipelines, that today are more safe and more efficient. I will call on Congress to pass legislation to bring more gas to market, while improving pipeline safety and safeguarding the environment. America should also expand a clean and unlimited source of energy—nuclear power....nuclear power already provides one-fifth of this nation's electricity, safely, and without air pollution....By renewing and expanding existing nuclear facilities, we can generate tens of thousands of megawatts of electricity, at a reasonable cost, without pumping a gram of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere....

"Our energy plan also supports the development of new and renewable sources of energy. It recommends tax credits to homeowners who invest in solar homes, and to utilities that build wind turbines or harness biomass and other environmentally friendly forms of power. It removes impediments to the development of hydro-electricity. It proposes incentives to buy new cars that run on alternative fuels, like ethanol, that consume less oil and, therefore, pollute less. It supports research into fuel cells, a technology of tomorrow that can power a car with hydrogen, the most common element in the universe, and emit only steam as a waste product....

"And finally, we must work to build a new harmony between our energy needs and our environmental concerns....The truth is energy production and environmental protection are not competing priorities. They are dual aspects of a single purpose, to live well and wisely upon the Earth."

Through such federal agencies as the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency, the Bush administration began to implement the plan immediately where Congressional approval is not required. Its actions included:

  • Orders to open up more public lands for oil and natural gas drilling, which resulted in increases in oil and natural gas mining from 2.6 million acres in 2000 to 4 million acres in 2001: for example, oil exploration in the Dome Plateau, a scenic 36-mile area near Arches National Park and Utah's Red Rock Canyon Country and natural gas exploration in Wyoming's Powder River Basin.
  • Orders to open up more forest areas for commercial activity, such as road-building and logging in Alaska's Tongass National Forest.

Orders to facilitate coal mining leading, for example, to the lifting of limits on "mountaintop removal" in West Virginia and the dumping of waste in rivers and streams.
The Bush administration's energy plan and its actions to carry it out received both vigorous support and angry opposition. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy research and analysis organization, declared that the President's plan "corrects the imbalance of supply and demand, assures America's energy future and provides responsible stewardship of the country's natural resources." The Sierra Club, an environmental organization, said, "President Bush's irresponsible energy policies represent the wrong priorities for our long-term energy needs."

These starkly opposing views suggest questions in need of answers:

1) How was President Bush's energy plan prepared?
2) What is a responsible energy policy for the United States?
3) What are the effects of energy use on the global climate?


Student Reading 2:

How Was President Bush's Energy Plan Prepared?

Controversy erupted as soon as President Bush's energy plan was announced on May 17, 200l. Supporters like Thomas Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the Bush plan "gives us the tools we need to meet America's demand for energy and promotes new technologies that promise greater efficiency and environmental protection."

But critics demanded to know how the energy plan was prepared and called for the names of the companies and individuals who were consulted. Vice President Dick Cheney, who led the President's taskforce on energy policy development, refused to release this information, arguing that it was vital for government leaders to have confidential discussions and to receive "unvarnished advice" from outside the government. The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, and Judicial Watch, a legal watchdog group, sued for the information, ultimately forcing the release of some 11,000 pages of documents. Because the Vice President continued to refuse to release other documents, the General Accounting Office of Congress sued to obtain them. It is very unusual for one branch of the government to sue another.

According to interviews and to these documents, 18 of the energy industry's top 25 financial contributors to the Republican Party advised Vice President Cheney's taskforce. They included oil companies Exxon Mobil and BP; one of the largest electric utility companies, Exelon; and the energy conglomerate Enron, which contributed $1.7 million, the most of any energy company, to the Republican Party. Defending such access to political leaders, Frederick D. Palmer, the chief lobbyist for the world's largest coal mining company, Peabody Energy, said, "People running the United States government now are from the energy industry, and they understand it and believe in increasing the energy supply, and contribution money has nothing to do with it." He was referring to the fact that both Vice President Cheney and President Bush were oil industry executives before their election to office.

The energy taskforce met with 158 energy companies and corporate trade associations, 22 labor unions, 13 environmental groups and a consumer group. But spokespersons for environmental groups maintain that their ideas received little attention. "The documents show that the Energy Department was more interested in the views of energy industry executives than the views of environmental groups," said Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch. Jill Schroeder, an Energy Department spokeswoman, said, "We did reach out to environmental groups. We incorporated a lot of their recommendations into the energy policy."

Environmental group leaders point to the fact that Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, who was advising the taskforce and Bush about the emerging energy policy, met with more than 100 energy industry executives, trade association leaders and lobbyists but did not meet with any representatives of environmental groups, although requested to do so. Energy Department officials turned down a request on February 20, 2001 by a coalition of nearly 30 environmental groups to meet with Secretary Abraham because of his "busy schedule." But in the following days the secretary did meet with leaders of coal, oil and nuclear companies. Questioned about this, Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, said, "News flash—no surprise to anybody, the secretary of energy meets with energy-related groups." Larry Klayman, chairman and general counsel of Judicial Watch, said, "The documents indicate that great deference was given to energy industry executives and lobbyists and almost none was given to the environmental industry and the concerns of consumer groups."

Since his election President Bush has named at least 30 former energy industry executives, lobbyists and lawyers to top jobs in his administration. They include in the Interior Department Special Assistant Secretary for Alaska Camden Toohey, a former executive director of Arctic Power, a group supporting opening the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling; Deputy Secretary J. Stephen Griles, who worked most recently for a firm that represents the National Mining Association; and an executive for policy management and budget, Patricia Lynn Scarlett, who was President of the Reason Foundation, which is financed by oil and mining companies.

"Big energy companies all but held the pencil for the White House taskforce as government officials wrote a plan calling for billions of dollars in corporate subsidies, and the wholesale elimination of key health and environmental safeguards," said John Adams, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

A White House spokeswoman, Ann Womack, counters: "...we received input and ideas from a variety of sources, whether it be an industry group or an environmental group, an individual citizen or a member of Congress." If their ideas "were consistent with the goals of the group to provide more energy to the American public in a cleaner, safer way, then we incorporated those ideas into the final product."



Student Reading 3:

What is a responsible energy policy for the United States?


To answer the question posed by this reading is to enter a fierce controversy. On the one side are President Bush, the leaders of federal agencies whom he has appointed, and executives of energy-producing companies in the oil, natural gas, and coal mining industries and of automobile companies. On the other are host of environmental organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club, and public interest groups such as Public Citizen.

President Bush's energy policy emphasizes producing more energy through providing additional incentives for expanded development of fossil fuel—oil, natural gas, coal—and nuclear fuel. It would therefore open up public land for oil and natural gas exploration and promote coal-mining and nuclear energy plants. Opponents who emphasize what they see as the negative environmental effects of the Bush policy would provide additional incentives for better energy efficiency standards for automobiles and appliances; it would also promote renewable and clean sources of energy like wind, solar, and biomass technologies they view as much underutilized.

Here are some samples of the pro- and anti-Bush perspectives:

Pro: President Bush's energy plan would provide $33.5 billion in tax breaks and incentives to oil, natural gas and coal producers that would "increase oil and gas exploration," "lead to 27 percent more production of oil" and "curb U.S. dependence on foreign oil." (Heritage Foundation)

Con: The oil and gas industries are already very profitable, and the Bush plan "is blatantly pandering" to the energy industry by lavishing on them billions at the expense of taxpayers. The United States can cut its dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil by promoting greater efficiency in cars and appliances
(Public Citizen)

Much of the increased oil and gas development is taking place "just outside national parks and monuments on lands that provide crucial habitat to threatened and endangered species". (NRDC)

Pro: The tax breaks and incentives "would develop new, cleaner, coal-burning technologies."

Con: "Clean coal is still the dirtiest fuel around." (Public Citizen )

Pro: The plan would "boost energy efficiency" and "promote nuclear energy."
(Heritage Foundation)

Con: Nuclear power is "economically inefficient" and produces radioactive waste that "poses serious environmental and proliferation problems." (Public Citizen)

Pro: The plan would "develop better conservation techniques and alternative fuel sources." (Heritage Foundation)

Con: The plan would cut by 36 percent programs in renewable energy sources and energy efficiency research and development by 27 percent. (Sierra Club)

In summary, the Heritage Foundation says, "President Bush is right to pursue a pro-growth, taxpayer friendly course in refining the nation's energy policy....Washington policy makers have three choices. They can do nothing and prolong the imbalance between energy demand and supply. They can opt for quick fixes that may be popular but won't solve the problem for any period of time. Or they can enact a long-term strategy that will meet the nation's energy needs for decades to come. President Bush has chosen the third course."

The Sierra Club says, "President Bush's irresponsible energy policies represent the wrong priorities for our long-term energy needs. His budget slashed funding for program that promote fuel efficient and renewable energy technologies. An environmentally responsible energy policy should emphasize (1) Efficiency....The United States can cut its dependence on fossil fuels—and consumer can save money—by driving more fuel-efficient cars and using more efficient appliances....(2) Renewable energy....wind energy alone could economically provide 20 percent of America's electricity."

While as indicated in Student Reading 1, federal agencies have moved to enact the Bush plan, other elements of it require Congressional approval. Some of them are highly controversial, like permitting drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and resisting higher fuel standards for automobiles. During the current session of Congress, the energy policy law has been stalled in a House-Senate committee and no resolution is expected until the 2003 session.

In the meantime, the dispute continues as does a related one over the impact of energy and economic development on global warming.

Meanwhile, the 15-nation European Union has set a goal of obtaining 22 percent of its electricity and 12 percent of all energy needs from renewable sources like the sun and wind. It intends gradually to eliminate fossil fuels and all other polluting energy sources that also contribute to global warming. Romano Prodi, the President of the European Commission, says, "Neither the United States nor Japan is clear in its goals," and without them there is little progress.



Student Reading 4:

What are the effects of energy use on the global climate?


  • Stifling heat waves as the country experiences a 5-9 degree rise in average temperature
  • The threat of drought in much of the country
  • Damage to buildings and roads as a result of increased storms and rising sea levels
  • Increased heat stress, air pollution and diseases spread by water, rodents, insects and ticks
  • Possible disappearance of alpine meadows and barrier islands as well as the breakup of Southeastern forests

These are some of the results of climate changes that Americans are likely to experience in coming decades, according to the Bush administration's United States Climate Action Report 2002.

What energy policy the U.S. and other countries follow is not simply an academic issue for politicians, energy executives, scholars, and environmentalists to argue about. Energy policy affects every American and every person all over the globe. The reason is global warming. For more than 20 years scientists have recorded the fact that the average temperature of the earth is rising. Globally, the hottest year on record was 1998. The second hottest was 2001.

Why? The main reason is that as we burn oil, gas and coal—the fossil fuels—in cars, power plants and factories—we pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, where it traps solar heat that raises the earth's temperature. The U.S. is responsible for about 25 percent of the emissions causing global warming. Once carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases get into the atmosphere they stay there for centuries. If we continue the energy policies now in existence, U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide by 2020 will have risen still further, by 43 percent.

The Kyoto Protocol, a treaty accepted by most nations, requires reductions in carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases by 2012 to levels well below those in 1990. President Bush, however, rejected the Kyoto Protocol shortly after he took office, saying that the treaty's schedule was too costly and its terms, which are applied mainly to the large industrialized nations, unfair. In "Understanding Climate Change," a publication of the administrators of the protocol, its authors write that because most of the emissions causing global warming come from the developed, industrialized nations, the protocol "put the lion's share of the responsibility for battling climate change—and the lion's share of the bill—on the rich countries." The President's press secretary announced on February 14, 2002, what he regards as a better alternative. "Rather than making drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that would put millions of Americans out of work and undermine our ability to make long-term investments in clean energy—as the Kyoto Protocol would have required—the President's growth-based approach will accelerate the development of new technologies and encourage partnerships on climate change issues with the developing world." In March 2001, in keeping with the President's concerns about endangering economic growth, he decided not to impose new controls on carbon dioxide emissions.

The President's plan, unlike the Kyoto Protocol, relies on voluntary measures, uses tax breaks and other incentives, and allows greenhouse gas emissions to continue to rise but aims at slowing the rate of growth by 18 percent over the next 10 years. "The initiative also supports vital climate change research and...."puts America on the path to slow the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, and—as the science justifies—to stop, and then reverse that growth....If, in 2012, we find that we are not on track toward meeting our goal...the United States will respond with additional measures...."

"This emphasis not only removes a large part of the economic risk associated with goals based on a fixed emission limit, but gives American industries a target...that they can shoot for in practical ways," said R. Glenn Hubbard, chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors. Meeting the President's goal "will require real reductions....For too long, the loudest voices in the climate change debate have either called for large emission reductions in the next 10 years or ignored the fact that climate change is a real risk. President Bush's plan makes sense: focus on a reasonable approach to slow, stop and then reverse growth in greenhouse gas emissions; don't wreck the economy in the process; and adjust future policy in response to scientific and technical progress."

But Philip E. Clapp, President of the National Environmental Trust, criticized this approach: "The President's global warming proposal appears to be another faith-based initiative: We should have faith that major corporations will line up to volunteer cuts in their carbon pollution. That approach has failed for a decade now, since the President's father set up the first voluntary program."

"The Bush administration now admits that global warming will change America's most unique wild places and wildlife forever," said Mark Van Putten, the President of the National Wildlife Federation. "How can it acknowledge global warming is a disaster in the making and then refuse to help solve the problem, especially when solutions are so clear?"

But Kevin J. Fay, the executive director of the International Climate Change Partnership, was reasonably satisfied: "The most significant thing is that they now have entered the dialogue with a fairly well-rounded proposal."

European and Asian supporters of the Kyoto Protocol did not think a voluntary plan was satisfactory. A French expert said of the plan, "It lacks credibility. We worry that without sanctions it just won't work." And a Japanese environmental minister said it would be best if the U.S. returned to the protocol.

Asked about his own administration's United States Climate Action Report 2002, President Bush dismissed it, saying "I read the report put out by the bureaucracy." (New York Times, 6/4/02)




Possible starting points


1. Inquiry-oriented Approach

Write "global warming" on the chalkboard in the center of a large circle and ask students for whatever comes to mind when they see or hear the words. List responses in web fashion, showing as well as possible the links among them. For example: global warming—higher temperatures—more air conditioner use—higher electric bills—power outages.

When you have finished posting student responses, ask some questions. What, for instance, do students know about the causes of global warming? About the Kyoto Protocol? About President Bush's reasons for rejecting the protocol? About his energy plan? What do they think they know but aren't sure about? Where does their information come from? What questions do they have?

Write the questions on the chalkboard. Then have the class examine them closely. See "Teaching Critical Thinking" on this website for detailed suggestions on the analysis of questions.

Begin independent and small-group inquiries into each question that seems worth close study. For background, all students can read "Energy and the Environment."


2. Current News Approach

Energy and the environment are frequently in the news. Have students look for such news in a daily newspaper, a news magazine or on TV newscasts for reports on drilling for oil on public land, nuclear power safety issues, the use of Yucca Mountain in Nevada for the disposal of nuclear waste, pollution problems, use of alternative sources of energy, evidence of the effects of climate change and the like. What issues, problems, and questions do students raise? Use one or more of them to launch a study of energy and the environment.

Discussion questions

1. What is President Bush's energy plan?

  • What are the key elements in the plan?
  • Why does President Bush think the U.S. needs to expand its production of fossil fuels?
  • What makes this a controversial issue?
  • Why do you suppose that the Heritage Foundation says the plan "provides responsible stewardship of the country's natural resources" but the Sierra Club views the plan as "irresponsible"? What does each mean by "responsible"?

2. How was President Bush's energy plan prepared?

  • Describe the controversy over the preparation of the plan.
  • What is your opinion about the fairness with which the plan was prepared? Why?
  • Should Vice President Cheney be required to release all records on how the plan was prepared? Why or why not?

3. What is a responsible energy plan for the United States?

  • What do supporters of the energy plan mean by "responsible"?
  • What do opponents mean?
  • Which point of view do you favor? Why?
  • Why do you suppose that drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge is controversial? Fuel standards for automobiles?

4. What are the effects of energy use on the global climate?

  • What are the causes of global warming?
  • What will be some of its likely effects?
  • What is the Kyoto Protocol? Why did President Bush reject it?
  • How does the President propose to deal with global warming?

Writing Assignments

1. Write an editorial discussing your view of global warming and what should be done about it.

2. Write a letter to President Bush telling him what you think is most important about his energy policy and why.

3. Write an essay on what you view as the three most important things you have learned during your study of energy and the environment.


Discussion Groups

1. Divide the class into groups of four to six students. Their assignment is to imagine they are about to interview President Bush about his energy and/or his global warming policies. What would be the three most important questions they would want to ask? Why? Each group should appoint one student to report its conclusions to the class. The class might then determine which are the three best questions produced by the groups and why.

2. Divide the class into groups of four to six students for a group "go-around." Each student is to respond in turn to the following question without interruption. The group should appoint one person to summarize what was said for the rest of the class. Question: What should be U.S. priorities for its long-term energy needs? Why?

3. Students pair up. Each has one to two minutes to express him or herself on the question without interruption. Then for another few minutes they are to talk informally about each other's views. Afterwards, have a general class discussion. Question: Should the U.S. accept the Kyoto Protocol? Why or why not?


Relevant, coherent, probing questions are at the heart of the critical thinking process. One way to emphasize their importance and to help students learn to ask good ones is this: Instead of providing teacher questions for a reading assignment, require students to write two or three of the best questions they can think of after they have completed the reading. The student does not necessarily have to be able to answer the question in part or whole. A criterion for a good question should be: Will this question, if answered well, promote better understanding of the issue or problem under study?


For further inquiry

This overview of energy and environment problems suggests many opportunities for independent or small-group inquiries. Among the possible subjects are studies of U.S. dependence upon fossil fuels; nuclear power—its advantages and disadvantages; the environmental impact of mountaintop removal; automobile, SUV and truck fuel efficiency standards; alternative sources of energy; the Kyoto Protocol; air, water and land pollution; drilling for oil and natural gas on public land; the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge; the status of and the elements in the energy bill that has been stalled in a House-Senate conference committee for months.

The suggestion here is that in preparation for any inquiry the teacher help students to formulate a coherent, answerable question that will provide guidance for the inquiry. For example, the inquiry should not be about "Alternative sources of energy," but rather, "What is solar power and what is its potential for providing the U.S. with non-fossil fuel power?" Not "the Kyoto Protocol." Rather: "What are the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol and why do so many nations support it?"

Possible student action

The study of energy and the environment can provide opportunities for student informational and political activities such as the following:

  • Preparation of an informational pamphlet to be distributed to other high school students or in the wider school community on the controversy over President Bush's energy plan, his global warming response, and/or the Kyoto Protocol
  • A class inquiry project into a local energy or pollution issue with a subsequent report on findings and recommendations to the city council
  • Select an issue related to the global warming problem, for example passing legislation requiring vehicle manufacturers to produce more fuel-efficient cars. Students could contact their representative and senators to find out what legislation on this matter is under consideration and what the Congressperson's position is on it. Students might also pursue such questions as: What are the Congressperson's reasons for the position? What are the financial sources of the Congressperson's support and how might they affect his/her decision-making process? What legislation do students think is necessary on fuel efficiency? What can they do to influence their legislators?
  • Preparation of a poll on global warming. What do people in the community know about the issue? What do they think should be done about global warming? Students could bring their findings to the attention of local radio and TV stations as well as to the town council.
  • A study of the many ways in which students could promote greater energy efficiency in their homes and publicizing the study in the school newspaper and announcements over the PA.


Heritage Foundation—
Natural Resources Defense Council—
Public Citizen—
Sierra Club—
U.S. Chamber of
U.S. Department of Energy—
White House—

The New York Times (2002: 2/14, 2/15, 3/1, 3/27, 3/28, 4/11, 4/21, 6/4, 10/16)

Roberta Snow and Richard Golden, "Global Warming"


This lesson was written for TeachableMoment.Org, a project of Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility. We welcome your comments. Please email them to: