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Global Warming Swindle

  • Key Stage 3
  • GCSE
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Planning
Topic: Atmospheric pollution

Science changes fast in this area! We are developing a new activity for this context, as part of upd8 Crucial. Find out more. The original activity is no longer available.

2010 may have been the world's warmest ever, but it doesn't seemed that way in Europe, which has experienced its coldest winter in 1000 years. Scientists are generally agreed about global warming, but there are still many deniers with loud voices who think it's all a lot of hot air. The stimulus is a video documentary – the Global Warming Swindle, that starts: "the ice is melting, the hurricanes are blowing, and it's all your fault. Scared? Don't be, it's not true!" The activity gets students to weigh up the evidence for the global warming theory, in comparison to an opposing theory – that that human activity causes global warming. The format of the activity is inspired by the TV programme 'The Weakest Link' - so the Weakest Theory' gets voted off at the end.

11-16 How Science Works:
1c how explanations of many phenomena can be developed using scientific theories, models and data.

Published: 14th February 2008
Reviews & Comments: 21

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Learning objectives

Students will learn that:
• there can be more than one theory to explain phenomena
• theories are accepted or rejected depending on well they fit with available evidence

Try the activity

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11-14 (KS3)

From September 2008
1.1b Critically analyse and evaluate evidence from observations and experiments.

Until September 2008
QCA unit 9g Environmental chemistry
• decide whether evidence is good enough to answer a question
• evaluate evidence put forward by others
• discuss and evaluate conflicting evidence to arrive at a considered viewpoint

14-16 (KS4)

How science works
1c how explanations of many phenomena can be developed using scientific theories, models and data.

GCSE specifications
Please see downloadable teachers notes for more details.

Running the activity

Page 1 introduces this activity with news headlines about climate change. Students have the opportunity here to explore the changes and problems created by global warming.
Page 2 describes the issues raised by the Channel 4 documentary "The Great Global Warming Swindle." The video is available on DVD, but is 75 minutes long. The trailer of the documentary available on the Channel 4 website is a good alternative to introducing the programme and the issues it raises.
Page 3 recaps the meaning of key terms used in this activity.
Give half the class copies of page 10, and the others copies of page 11. Each page describes and lists some evidence for each of the two opposing theories.
Next, display question 1 on page 4. Ask students from each sides of the debate to select evidence that gives the best explanation in answer to the question. Emphasise that there are no 'right answers' and that the students are the decision-makers in this exercise. Get students to vote for which theory presents the better evidence for the question. Then repeat for the questions on pages 5 – 9.
Finally, get students to vote off the 'Weaker theory' in the style of the TV programme 'The Weakest Link'.
This activity can be extended for higher ability classes, with students making a presentation on the strengths and weaknesses of each theory.

News links

Information for and against the theory that humans are responsible for global warming
The Great Global warming Swindle
Dedicated website

Media links

Watch the Global Warming Swindle online
The TV documentary (do check link still working)

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?

Global Warming Swindle review

Sep 20th, 2011

5 Star

Good resource, thank you. It got the pupils thinking about both sides of the issue not just one that is fed to them from general media - transferable skills for all topics.

Reviewer: R Khoo

Y10 Science low ability

Apr 24th, 2010

5 Star

I thought that this resource was great as it gave be information about both sides of the argument. I was able to use this with a low ability class (with some extra guidance) and they understood what was happening in this argument and so were able to make their own informed choice about "nature" or "man-made". They also asked some awesome questions about the vilidity of the information presented in the media.

Reviewer: Carmen Kenton


Mar 13th, 2010

3 Star

First of all, this is a great concept. I really like the idea of getting my kids to think outside the box and question the mainstream views, and I must say it's a relief not having to do that with religion.

I had high hopes with this game, and when we first tried it, it started off really well. The kids were engaged and seemed interested, but then it got really hard to keep them focused. For example, we got onto the topic of... no surprise... CO2 emissions, and one of the students suggested it could have been cosmic rays. Another student referred to an article on this topic:

which suggests that cosmic rays were not responsible. I don't mind discussing these issues but the problem was that many of the discussed issues (I only kept the link from this one, but there were others) were highly specialised and difficult to discuss. Anyway, this isn't really the fault of the program. My advice: don't let them go on the internet during the activity, and do some research beforehand!

Reviewer: John Simmons

Global Warming Swindle review

Aug 20th, 2009

5 Star

Used as part of G and T competition. Produced excellent work from students. A very worthwhile activity.

Reviewer: George Hurst

Global warming swindle

Mar 5th, 2009

5 Star

This has been very useful for leading into a case study discussing whether global warming is caused by humans. Thanks.

Reviewer: Claire Butler


Jan 25th, 2009

4 Star

About time we debated the whole issue instead of following the politicians. The weakest link made it fun. I'm sick of teaching a theory that i don't believe and being told that "scientists think this". Scientists are individuals too!!

Reviewer: Deborah Bradley

Global Warming Swindle

Jan 20th, 2009

5 Star

I have run this several times with both low and high sets and it gets a great response each time. Its brilliant as revision or introduction to P2 21st Century Sci. Lots can be done with your own extra materials to extend it or keep it as as. This is def one on my USB!

Reviewer: J E Jennings

Global warming swindle

Jun 17th, 2008

3 Star

Used a some of the materials as info for a cover lesson. Worked really well.

Reviewer: kantha choudhury

global warming swidle

Jun 13th, 2008

4 Star

Used this to good effect with a year 9 mixed ability class. Had lively discussion .

Reviewer: Kelly Susan

Global Warming Swindle review

Jun 11th, 2008

5 Star

At last we can translate the Powerpoint and use these resources in Welsh medium schools. Diolch.

Reviewer: nigel graham


Jun 8th, 2008

5 Star

had key facts

Reviewer: komal patel

Global Warming Swindle review

May 19th, 2008

4 Star

I used this for my observed lesson and it was great. i also played a video to go with it and was able to keep pupils engaged.

Reviewer: Uzma Karim

Global Warming Swindle

May 18th, 2008

4 Star

Thank you so much for this activity. I have been teaching my students to really think out of the box. The idea of Global Warming is an idea that many of my students have questioned. This activity has really helped in getting a clear picture of both sides of a story.

Reviewer: William Green

Global warming swindle

Apr 1st, 2008

5 Star

Have not tried this myself, but having read the content I think it brillliant as it will make sure ADULTS have the right information about global warming as I think the majority of them have the media theories locked in their brains and pass these onto their pupils.
A colleague of mine has used this lesson for an interview for a new position...she introduced the sound effects for the weakest link and got the job!

Reviewer: Joanna Hinds

Global Warming Swindle review

Mar 18th, 2008

5 Star

Once again you have delivered the goods!. This cuts through all the hype and provides sufficient evidence to have an informed learning conversation with the students, something we often avoid due to 'content'.

Reviewer: Kevin Smith

Global warming swindle

Feb 25th, 2008

5 Star

We are experiencing the same conversations here in the U.S.A...This actvitiy is great for helping the students begin to make up their own minds based on collective data!

Reviewer: Kathy Benash

global warming swindle feedback

Feb 25th, 2008

4 Star

The provision of a resource that can be edited is great. Ran the activity as an introduction to the idea of a case study for the 21st Century KS4 course. This was done for a higher ability group and it worked very well, particularly in highlighting the need for alternative explanations of the same experimental observation. The activity was a very good way of cementing the concept that models can only be considered a success if they can reasonably account for an observation. Indeed it stimulated some very intersting discussion regarding importance of questioning scientific models rather than accepting them as truths. Thanks for the resource!

Reviewer: Marc Leaver

customisable activities

Feb 24th, 2008

5 Star

Thank you for making this change - I spent ages trying to add a question mark to the title of the conjoined activitiy out of sensitivity towards my Hindu pupils.
I have had no other need to make changes as I am still impressed at the quality of these activities and find that pupils are very engaged by them.
Well done

Reviewer: catherine spencer

Customisable activities

Feb 23rd, 2008

5 Star

Excellent idea to put the activities in a PowerPoint file. This has saved me a lot of extra work and will allow differentiation. Thank you. Keep up the good work.

Reviewer: Emma Stanley-Isaac

Climate Change Debate

Feb 22nd, 2008

5 Star

Thanks for this resource. I have downloaded a copy and hope to use it as I am teaching C21st Science P2 to a bottom set.

If anyone is interested in similar resources, here is a link to the TRE website that compares An Inconvenient Truth and Great Global Warming Swindle. (You can download resources without joining)

There is a card sort to explain the 'science' behind each theory that might be useful.

There are argumentation statements which pupils discuss whether support one theory or the other; both or neither.

The lesson plan has timings for where to find the explanations for each documentary.

This was prepared by myself for my final PGCE assignment.

Many thanks for including this link and congratulations on producing such an excellent resource - Ed

Reviewer: Ruth Mulenga

Global Warming Swindle review

Feb 22nd, 2008

5 Star

Great to see it on editable media and already on PowerPoint. Well Done, keep the rest in this format please. How about past ones?
Kevin B

Reviewer: Kevin Betts


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