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Rich Butler, Pine Lake Middle School and Issaquah School District


8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Social Studies, Economics

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plan
  • Video
  • Presentation Slides
  • Article
  • Project
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Worksheet

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West


PDF, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint, YouTube Video

Climate Crisis is a $26 Trillion Economic Opportunity

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  • This multi-lesson economics unit is focused on the economic effects of climate change on water availability in Washington state and teaches students about implementing circular economy principles.
  • Students will review economic concepts, learn about the differences between an extraction-based economy and a circular one, research companies utilizing circular economy principles, and develop an impact project that addresses community needs and encourages a circular economy.
Teaching Tips


  • Some of the videos and examples used in the lesson are student-made, which will inspire students to inform others about environmental issues.
  • Students will feel empowered and gain a sense of agency from getting to decide the focus of their impact project.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The Common Core State Standards link doesn’t work.
  • The first video, titled, What is Sustainability? in Lesson 1 Activity 1 is now private.
  • The Wind Energy Growth link in Lesson 1 Activity 2 goes to a page called Careers in Wind Energy. You must click the link that says, "Click to see full size" to get to the map referenced in the lesson (or here).
  • The case study on Splosh referenced in Lesson 1 Activity 3 no longer exists, but you can use the questions for many other case studies.
  • Some articles for researching fast fashion require a subscription or free account to read.
  • The first three articles for Lesson 2 Activity 3 are unavailable, along with the Homegrown article.
  • The What Can Governments Do? article does not have a link.
  • The link to the Art of Arguing instructional tools turns up a blank page.
  • In The Best Sustainable Products for Zero Waste Living - Lucie Fink, the speaker mentions menstrual cups.


  • For younger students, especially those with low reading stamina and comprehension, it may be best to read some or all of the articles as a class or to give them an abbreviated version.
  • After reading the article, The Surprising Link Between Science Fiction and Economic History, language arts students can read science fiction pieces, looking for themes of hope for the future.
  • Students outside of Washington can implement their student impact project with resources relevant to their state. 
Scientist Notes
This activity expatiates circular economy and its principles, and how students could apply the concept in their impact projects to solve the climate crisis and economic meltdown. It is well-sourced and suitable for classroom use.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Civics
      • D2.Civ.12.9-12 Analyze how people use and challenge local, state, national, and international laws to address a variety of public issues.
    • Dimension 2: Economics
      • D2.Eco.1.6-8 Explain how economic decisions affect the well-being of individuals, businesses, and society.
      • D2.Eco.2.6-8 Evaluate alternative approaches or solutions to current economic issues in terms of benefits and costs for different groups and society as a whole.
      • D2.Eco.3.6-8 Explain the roles of buyers and sellers in product, labor, and financial markets.
      • D2.Eco.6.6-8 Explain how changes in supply and demand cause changes in prices and quantities of goods and services, labor, credit, and foreign currencies.
      • D2.Eco.15.9-12 Explain how current globalization trends and policies affect economic growth, labor markets, rights of citizens, the environment, and resource and income distribution in different nations.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.7 Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account.
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.5 Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.
    • Writing (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-6 Develop a quantitative model to describe the cycling of carbon among the hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-2 Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.
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