Lesson Plan: Perspectives on Energy Production and Climate Change

Natalie Mahowald

Natalie Mahowald, Professor at Cornell University, testifies before the house on the state of climate change and why it matters.


This lesson plan explores the current perspectives regarding the balance between energy production and the prevention and mitigation of climate change in the United States. Students will watch and respond to an introductory video clip regarding current efforts and technologies. Students will then view three of six different perspectives on the issue, including those from U.S. representatives, energy employees and business leaders, and other stakeholders, as part of a choice board activity. The lesson concludes with a culminating writing prompt and includes several potential extension activities.


  • Set Up

    This lesson offers several options for you to use with your students whether you are teaching in class, using a hybrid model, or engaging through distance learning. It can be completed in steps as a class or students can move at their own pace and complete the activities independently.

    You can post links to the videos in the lesson along with the related handouts and engage in discussion to share responses on a discussion board or learning management system.

    You can also save and share the following Google resources for students to use with this lesson.

    Handout: Choice Board (Google Slides).

    Resource: Vocabulary Activity (Google Slides).

    In Google, choose "File" then "Make a Copy" to get your own copy. You can make any needed adjustments in the instructions such as which activities students need to complete, when it is due, etc. and then make it available to them via Google.

  • Warm Up and Introduction

    Play this introductory video clip [Clip 1} (5:06) for your students. Direct your students to answer the following questions on their choice board. Engage your students in a think-pair-share or similar activity to share their responses.

    • According to Natalie Mahowald, what global revolution is currently happening?
    • What is the “old-fashioned view” regarding the environment and business?
    • Based on the clip, what could slow global warming or meet an agreed-upon temperature target?
    • What specific policy and research suggestions does Mahowald provide?
  • Vocabulary

    This lesson comes with a vocabulary activity with potentially unfamiliar terms heard throughout each video clip. The vocabulary file can be used at the beginning and throughout the lesson. Have students review the vocabulary terms and phrases before beginning the lesson.

    Direct students to drag and drop each definition in the orange boxes to the correct term in the houses.

    Encourage students to reference the vocabulary activity when they encounter an unfamiliar word in the video clips. A potential extension to the use of the flash cards could be having your students define and present the terms in a Frayer's Model activity, where each student takes one-to-two words. Students can then post their models around the room for reference throughout the lesson. As a note: additional potentially unfamiliar vocabulary terms are listed to the right.

  • Choice Board Activity

    Have students choose three (3) perspectives on energy production and climate change from the choice board. Direct them to view the video clips and respond to the accompanying questions (listed below). Students can watch each video independently or with a partner. Students should take notes and prepare responses to the questions to share them in small group or class discussion.

  • Perspective: U.S. Chamber of Commerce [Clip 2] (4:47), Suzanne Clark, President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, testifies at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on climate change.

    • According to Suzanne Clark, what is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s position on climate change?
    • What two goals is the Chamber advocating for?
    • Based on the clip, which groups play roles in addressing climate change? What are these roles?
    • What examples of progress does Clark mention? What next steps does she mention?
  • Perspective: Exxon Mobil Corportation [Clip 3] (5:33), Darren Woods, Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, testifies at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on climate change.

    • What does Darren Woods say ExxonMobil provides to Americans? How does he contrast this with other countries?
    • How does ExxonMobil view climate change? What does Woods say about oil and gas?
    • What steps has ExxonMobil already taken to “accelerate the transition to a world with fewer emissions?”
    • According to Woods, how has ExxonMobil used carbon capture? What are the company’s planned future steps?
  • Perspective: Energy Worker [Clip 4] (5:51), Neal Crabtree, a former Keystone XL pipeline welder, testifies at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on climate change.

    • What happened to Neal Crabtree with the stoppage of pipeline construction? What other effects does he mention?
    • What does Crabtree say is the cause of rising prices?
    • What reason does Crabtree say for why more pipelines have not been built? What effect does this have?
    • What does Crabtree say about his employment opportunities? What is his “crisis?”
  • Perspective: Republican Representative [Clip 5] (2:32), Republican Representative Michael Cloud of Texas submits documents for the record and makes comments at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on climate change.

    • Describe some of the articles that Representative Michael Cloud presents for the record?
    • What does Cloud say about the “national climate emergency?”
    • What does he say about “fear” and “government control?”
  • Perspective: Democratic Representative [Clip 6] (5:25), Democratic Representative Katie Porter of California testifies and asks questions at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on climate change.

    • What point does Representative Katie Porter make with the M&Ms example?
    • How much already-leased land is unused by fossil fuel companies?
    • To whom does Porter say the public land belongs to?
  • Perspective: Oil and Gas Trade Assosication [Clip 7] (5:07), Mike Sommers, President and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API), testifies at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on climate change.

    • According to Mike Sommers, what do the members of the American Petroleum Institute (API) do?
    • What is the first point that Sommers makes?
    • What is the second point that Sommers shares? What does he say about climate change?
    • What are the five main actions of API’s Climate Action Framework?
  • Closure

    After your students are finished with the choice board, have them share their findings with the class, either in a jigsaw rotation or as a whole-class presentation. Once all students have shared per teacher discretion, direct students to complete the final culminating writing prompt: "Of the six perspectives presented in the lesson, which do you agree with the most, and why? Use supporting evidence from the clips, your notes, and your responses in your answer."

    You can also provide the related articles linked below to your students to help them further support their arguments.

    Have students share their responses, comparing their responses with their classmates'.

  • Extension Activities

    This lesson includes several potential extension activities to build upon student learning from the lesson. Ask students to consider the videos they watched, their notes and responses to questions, and class discussion. Direct them to choose one of the perspectives from the choice board activity and complete one of the following extension activities to demonstrate their understanding of that particular stance and how it impacts their local community.

    • Be a journalist! Write an article or create a short video reporting on the issue.
    • Create a Public Service Announcement to inform the public about the issue.
    • Write a song that reflects your perspective on the issue.
    • Write a letter to your elected officials detailing your position on the issue and how it is affecting your community. Offer suggestions on how you believe it should be addressed.

Additional Resources


  • 2020 Energy Act
  • Acre
  • Adaptation
  • Alterative Energy
  • American Petroleum Institute
  • Atmospheric
  • Biofuels
  • Bipartisan
  • Build Back Better Program
  • Carbon
  • Carbon Capture
  • Casualty
  • Celsius
  • Climate Change
  • Coal
  • Colonial Pipeline
  • Committee
  • Congress
  • Convention
  • Demand
  • Developed Countries
  • Diversify
  • Emissions
  • Envoy
  • Eradicate
  • Finance
  • Fossil Fuels
  • Green Energy
  • Greenhouse Gases
  • Greenwashing
  • Hearing
  • House Of Representatives
  • Hydrofluorocarbons
  • Hydrogen
  • Hysteria
  • Inauguration
  • Inflation
  • Innovation
  • International Energy Agency
  • International Plant Protection
  • Keystone Xl Pipeline
  • Leasing
  • Liquified Natural Gas
  • Lobby
  • Louisiana Purchase
  • Mandate
  • Methane
  • Mitigation
  • Mutually Exclusive
  • Net Zero
  • Non-governmental Organization
  • Oil
  • Organization Of The Petroleum Exporting Countries
  • Paris Climate Agreement
  • Permit
  • Poverty
  • President
  • Prosperity
  • Renewable Energy
  • Sanction
  • Shortage
  • Soviet Union
  • Standard Of Living
  • Subsidies
  • Supply
  • Testify
  • Trade Association
  • Transparent
  • Union
  • United Nations


Economics & Financial LiteracyEnvironmental Policy & Land Use


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