Lesson 3: Human Health and Climate Change


Climate change is altering the health of our planet, and human health is being affected at the same time. There are many ways in which this is happening, including pollution, hunger that increases susceptibility to disease, and air and water quality. For more information about climate change and human health in general, explore this link.

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will understand the various ways climate change can affect human health
  • They will gain specific knowledge of ozone depletion and measures that have been taken to decrease it by the UN
  • They will learn about what they can do to mitigate the effects of climate change on human health

Settling In/ Chalice Lighting

(5 minutes)

Use the words below or one you find yourself.

We light this Unitarian Universalist chalice
with open minds, helping hands, and loving hearts.


(5 minutes)

Go around in a circle or have participants randomly share how their week has been. Remind them to be respectful of whatever each person has to share and to keep their thoughts brief. It is important to make a space where everyone feels safe and comfortable and to respect where each person is coming from that day. If time allows, go around twice; once for news and once for joys and sorrows. It is important that the leaders participate in the check-in to build a relationship with the participants.


If you have access to a computer and internet, you can show this poem/rap about heat taking a toll on human health. Feel free to share some of the background information below the video with your participants as well.


Health Effects Brainstorming

(20-25 minutes)


Human health is a very personal and important justification for taking action against climate change. It can affect our health in two major ways; by making existing conditions worse or aggravated or by causing the development of new conditions. In this activity participants will understand these two roles climate change can play and specific examples of its effects. This site has important information about the varied effects of climate change on human health.


  • Note cards (optional)


Space for participants to share where everyone can hear and see.


  1. Break the participants up into four groups. Assign each group a role. One is doctors, another the elderly, a third infants, and the fourth pregnant women.
  2. Explain that the participants should brainstorm ways in which climate change could affect the health (or in the case of doctors, the work) of their group for about 10 min. They should create short dialogues to explain to the class what they came up with. These can either be presentations or short skits. Encourage each group member to participate in the presentation.
  3. Make sure to walk around to the groups to add to their ideas.

Health and Pollution in Your Community

(30-35 minutes)


Pollution is one of the largest causes of human health problems in relation to climate change. Gases such as carbon monoxide can cause poisoning problems, while particles can affect the respiratory system. In this activity participants will understand the pollution problems in their community, the implications, and what they can do to mitigate the release of pollutants.


  • Computer with internet access(optional)
  • Projector (optional)
  • White board or butcher paper
  • Markers
  • Printer paper
  • Stapler/tape/thumbtacks


Area with a large blank wall for projection.


  1. Go to 10Green and enter your town (where your fellowship is located) into the box at the bottom of the left bar. Project the score for your class to see. If you don’t have a computer or projector you can print a screen shot or write down the information.
  2. Walk through the score with your class. Click on each type of pollution and talk about what could release those pollutants. Make a short list of what they could do to prevent the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. You may want to review the effects carbon dioxide has on climate change and what extreme temperatures and drought or flooding could mean for human health.
  3. Have each student pick either carbon dioxide or another greenhouse gas and pledge to take an action against it. For example, the participants could pledge to rake leaves so leaf blowers that release carbon dioxide and small particles don’t have to be used. Explain that you are not ignoring the other pollutants, but focusing on the ones that cause climate change. This should be something different, and smaller, than the participants’ DOT projects.
  4. Ask the participants to write down their pledges and illustrate them. Then put them up in a public place so the community can support and be inspired by the ideas. Make sure to check with the administrator for permission before putting anything up.


(10 minutes)

Have the student check in about their DOT projects. Do they have questions? What is hard? What is easy?


Have one student extinguish the chalice while everyone reads the closing words.

We extinguish this flame but not the light of truth,
the warmth of community,
or the fire of commitment.
These we carry in our hearts until we are together again.