Warming Warning

How much warmer is the planet now than it was in 1980?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does the chart tell?

  3. Make a claim that can be substantiated by data in the chart.

  4. Explain whether this story is good news.

  5. What is the most significant cause of the trend in the chart?

  6. What is the most significant consequence of the warming of the planet?

  7. The people who made most of this climate mess (my generation and older) won’t be around to suffer from it as much as your generation (and younger). The people who made most of this climate mess (the wealthy) won’t suffer nearly as much as the poor. What do you think about that?

  8. What is the Trump administration’s position on whether the real information in the chart above is even true?

  9. What is the Trump administration’s position on what we should do about the trend in the chart?

  10. Last year, The Trump administration nominated oil lobbyist David Bernhardt to run the Department of the Interior, whose role it is to “manage and sustain” America’s lands. Describe the confirmation process that Bernhardt will have to go through to become the Secretary of the Interior.

  11. Today is the beginning of the Global Climate Strike. How are you fighting against climate change?

  12. What would you consider the most effective political method to fight climate change?

  13. Given the fact that the U.S. House of Representatives is Democratic controlled, and the U.S. Senate and the Presidency are both Republican controlled, Describe how difficult appointment processes like Bernhardt’s are.

  14. What are some tactics interest groups could take to try to fight A nomination or to generally limit climate change?

  15. List some government department, agencies, or groups that have a role in measuring or regulating climate change.

  16. Explain how the United States’ federal system impacts our ability to tackle climate change.

  17. Donald Trump recently decided to take away California’s ability to have higher emissions standards than the federal government. How will increasing emissioins impact Climate change?

  18. How is that an example of Federalism?

  19. What would a supporter of states’ rights say about trump’s plan to take away California’s regulatory power?

  20. What steps could California take to stop trump’s plan?

  21. Climate change is clearly one of the most significant threats to our future. What about our political system has made it so hard to do anything to solve this problem?

  22. Climate is never mentioned explicitly in the U.S. Constitution (neither were elevators, airplanes, self-driving cars, Intercontinental Ballistic missiles, or ROOMBAs). What clause in the U.S. Constitution empowers the U.S. government to tackle climate change?

  23. How do demographics (age, political party) impact American’s views on climate change? (see chart below)*

  24. Explain why the young and the old have such different opinions about climate change.

  25. Why do you think Americans are more worried about climate change under trump than they were under Obama? (see below)*

  26. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez released a Green New Deal outline today. In our divided government, how likely is this New Deal to become a reality?

  27. In a democracy, public opinion on an issue (climate change) and public policy on that issue should be aligned - maybe not perfectly, but at least closely. Given that American pubic opinion does not closely match U.S. public policy regarding climate change, what claim would you make about the level of democracy in America?

  28. What is one policy the government could implement to help ameliorate the problem of climate change?

  29. What is the most effective thing you could do to fight climate change?

  30. In general what argument would adherents of the following ideologies make about the role of government in solving the climate change problem:





Visual Extension*


Learning Extension

Plug your city or town into the temperature calculator to see how much your home has warmed. Here’s mine…

Action Extension

In question #19 you were asked to list the best way to fight climate Change. Take one step towards that action now and share your step in class or online.

Our World In Data Extension



Budget Me Elmo

What US Government department or agency has the largest budget for Fiscal Year 2020?

  1. How inaccurate was your crazy prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this crazy data?

  3. When you think about where the largest portion of the money goes, what is the big story this data tells?

  4. Why is that?

  5. What is one political consequence of this distribution of money?

  6. Explain whether this is good or bad news.

  7. How surprised would the average American be by this data?

  8. How much input do you personally have in the budgetary process?

  9. Let’s say that you wanted to influence the budgetary process as much as possible. What would be the most efficacious first step to take to wield the most influence?

  10. The department with the highest budget is the Department of Health and Human Services ($1.2 TRILLION!!!) What exactly is all this money going for?

  11. And what about the Social Security Agency? What does that money go for?

  12. In the budget for Fiscal Year 2020 the Department of Defense (fights wars) gets 706 BILLION dollars while the Department of State (prevents wars) gets 24 BILLION dollars. Explain whether you believe that is a good ratio of spending.

  13. I like the defense department. I do not want the U.S. to be invaded by Canada, Jamaica, or North Korea. At the same time, I like the environment, and the Defense Department budget is over 100 times larger than the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency. Explain what you would like the ratio on military protection versus environmental protection to be in the ideal world.

  14. Explain which department or agency is the most underfunded.

  15. Explain which department or agency is the most overfunded.

  16. If you could change the budgetary spending in on way, what would you change?

  17. Who decides on the budget?

  18. How is the budgetary process an example of checks and balances?

Visual Extension *


Learning Extension

Learn about the U.S. government’s budgetary process.

Action Extension

Remix the U.S. budget as you see fit. Share your new budget in class or online.


Mike Drop

Are there more Johns and Mikes or more female members of the House GOP (Republican Party)?

  1. What story does the chart tell?

  2. Explain why that is the case.

  3. Because of the data from the chart, explain one consequence on American politics.

  4. Is this good news?

  5. Does this information surprise you?

  6. List one question you have about this data:

  7. 50% of Americans are female. 23% of Congress is female. Imagine that 50% of the House was female. Consider how that would that change American public policy. Describe three specific policies that would impact.

  8. Explain whether you personally think that would be a good change.

  9. 50% of Americans are female. 23% of Congress is female. List the top three reasons for this lack of gender parity:

  10. How different do you imagine this data will be in 40 years (if there is a Congress in 40 years)?

  11. How different do you predict this data was 100 years ago?

  12. How do you think the number of Johns or Mikes compares to the number of female House members of the Democratic Party?*

  13. What about the demographic (race,age, gender, religion, etc.) makeup and ideological (beliefs and values) makeup of the two major US parties explains this difference?

  14. A student of mine once asked, in exasperation, “How could any woman be a Republican?” How would you answer her question?

  15. Based on the terms lengths and the way members of the House and the Senate are elected, explain whether the Senate or the House is more male or female?*

  16. In the comments section below list the first year you believe the U.S. Congress will achieve gender parity and be 50% female:

*Visual Extension

*There are 7 Democratic House Members named John or Mike. Believe me, I read the entire list.

*Fun Fact-The following House members first names are real:

Learning Extension

Read more about all the Republican and Democratic women in the U.S. House from the Center For American Women and Politics

Action Extension

Find out how many women, Mikes, and Johns represent your state in the U.S. House of Representatives. Share your answer in class or online.

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Incarceration nation

What has happened to the number of sentenced inmates in federal custody (federal prisoners) over the past 30 years?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What is the big trend over the past 30 years?

  3. Why do you think that is?

  4. What is one consequence of this trend?

  5. Who pays for this all?

  6. Is this good news?

  7. What is one thing a president could do about this?

  8. What is one thing a citizen could do about this?

  9. Based on the data from the chart, which president would you hold most responsible for increasing the number of federal prisoners?

  10. Describe the trend in the number of federal inmates during President Obama's time in office?

  11. Why do you think that is?

  12. What do you imagine the trend will be like under Donald Trump?

  13. If you were president explain whether you would try to increase or decrease the federal prison population.

  14. In a country like Finland or Norway, criminals are not incarcerated in American style prisons, but live in rehabilitation centers where they are generally allowed to come and go as they please. Explain whether you think that sort of incarceration system would work in the US.

Learning Extension

Read the Pew Research Center's report on incarceration.

Action Extension

Contact Donald Trump and express your opinion about whether or not he should follow President Obama's direction of reducing the federal prison population.

Visual Extension

Our World In Data Extension

Our Animals in Clothing Extension


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World's Deadliest Animal

What is the world's deadliest animal?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What surprised you about this infographic?

  3. Write down two questions this infographic raises for you:

  4. Boil down the essence of this infographic into a 140 character statement (Tweet):

  5. Are you scared of mosquitoes?

  6. Which of the animals on the chart are you most scared of?

  7. How rational is your fear?

  8. What exactly do mosquitoes do that makes them so deadly?

  9. In the comments section write your reaction to the fact that every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria -  a disease that can be prevented for a child for 5 years for only $10.

Action Extension

Learn: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Malaria Strategy and then take one action at: Malaria No More