Discussion Guides

Environment Questions: Be Informed, Speak Up, Act Lesson Plan (Grades 6–8)

  • Grades: 6–8

This article is part of the "Be Informed, Speak Up, Act" lesson plan.

Policymakers must determine how to best manage land and natural resources, protect the environment, and respond to the needs of the ever-growing U.S. population.

1.    Rising oil and natural gas prices are a source of concern, and some people are trying to come up with solutions that are environmentally and economically sound. Some people say that expanding the territory currently allowed for offshore drilling could help ease gas and oil prices. Offshore drilling is the act of drilling from off the coasts in the ocean. However, others argue that drilling off the shores of the United States harms the environment. A ban on new offshore drilling is still in place, but there has been talk of overturning this ban.

Should government remove the ban on expanding offshore drilling?

  • What are the benefits of offshore drilling?

  • What are the drawbacks of it?

  • What are the positive and negative issues with removing this ban?

  • Can you think of any energy related issues that pit environmental protection against the economy in your own community?

2.    Policymakers must consider how to manage the tensions between land use and development and the protection of animals and the environment. Undeveloped land is land on which construction has not yet taken place. Typically undeveloped land has natural resources such as trees and grass. Animals can easily live on this land. As people continue to develop new communities, with housing complexes, office buildings, and shopping centers, on undeveloped land, animals and natural habitats are increasingly displaced.

In what ways should government balance the importance of allowing people to develop new properties with the importance of protecting animals and natural habitats?

  • Is balance required? Why or why not?

  • What are the benefits of land development (e.g., for the economy, for society)?

  • What are the drawbacks of it (e.g., for the economy, for society)?

  • Can you think of any areas of undeveloped land, in your own community, that people would like to build on? 

3.    Alternative energy is a hot current issue, with many people encouraging the use and development of other sources of energy besides fossil fuels and gas (e.g., wind power, solar energy, and water power). Some say that the use of alternative energy is a solution for meeting increasing energy demands. Many of these same people argue that the use of alternative energy sources protects the environment.

How should government address the development of alternative energy sources? Should government, business, or both fund research and development of alternative energy solutions? Explain your position.

  • Should government place a higher priority on expanding offshore drilling, advancing nuclear energy, or researching other alternative energies? Explain your position.

  • What are some of the benefits associated with alternative energies?

  • What are some of the drawbacks associated with alternative energies?

  • What is the public's responsibility regarding energy use?


Displaced: forced to move

Overturning: cancelling

Pit: setting two or more things up in competition against one another

  • Subjects:
    Social Studies, Environmental Conservation and Preservation, Animals, Natural Resources, Energy, Politics