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Fred Pearce


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, English Language Arts

Resource Type

  • Articles and Websites

Regional Focus


Collateral Damage: The Environmental Cost of the Ukraine War

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  • This article outlines the environmental threats caused by the war in Ukraine including fires, pollution, damage to nuclear facilities, and logging.
  • It discusses the sensitive habitats, such as steppe grasslands and beech forests, that face severe damage and degradation, putting rare species at risk.
  • It also discusses the concern about radiation levels and nuclear waste containment at multiple nuclear energy facilities that are sites of conflict in the war in Ukraine.
Teaching Tips


  • This article covers the environmental cost of war, a topic that is often overlooked in news headlines.
  • There are links to many relevant and diverse primary sources that discuss the environment in Ukraine, including the Ukrainian Nature Conservation Group.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be emotionally prepared to discuss the consequences of war, and instructors should be prepared to discuss the human toll of war, too.
  • Students should be familiar with the terms and concepts of biodiversity, logging, nuclear radiation, and pollution.


  • It may be helpful to lead a discussion to gather students' background knowledge of the war in Ukraine and assess their level of comfort in discussing topics of war.
  • Before reading the article, have students do a turn-and-talk activity to discuss what they think potential environmental consequences of armed conflicts may be.
  • Consider having students independently research and learn more about some of the unique habitats and species present in Ukraine that are discussed in the article.
  • It may be helpful to create an interdisciplinary lesson with a social studies class when examining these topics.
Scientist Notes
This resource presents a "state of the environment" outlook in Ukraine. It spotlights the impact of shelling and heavy bombardment by the Russian forces on Ukraine's forests, territories, protected areas and also the extent of damage on physical infrastructure, green technologies, industrial plants, nuclear plant facilities, biodiversity, islands, etc. This presents a huge cost to human and environmental health. The resource has been thoroughly fact-checked and is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-3 Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.
    • LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
      • HS-LS4-5 Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in: (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.5.9-12 Evaluate how political and economic decisions throughout time have influenced cultural and environmental characteristics of various places and regions.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: History/Social Studies (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.10 By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.10 By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.
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