Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students explore how humans alter the environment to produce food, and the environmental effects of these alterations, specifically within the beef industry. 

Subjects: Geography.

Year Levels: Year 9.

Topics: Climate change, Food.

Teaching Time: 60 minutes.


Cool would like to thank the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and The Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation for generously supporting the development of these lessons.


21st-century skills: 

CommunicatingCommunity EngagementCreative ThinkingCritical Thinking

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 9 Geography:

  • Human alteration of biomes to produce food, industrial materials and fibres, and the use of systems thinking to analyse the environmental effects of these alterations (ACHGK061)

Relevant parts of the Year 9 Geography achievement standards: Students analyse interconnections between people, places and environments and explain how these interconnections influence people, and change places and environments. They predict changes in the characteristics of places over time and identify the possible implications of change for the future. Students analyse alternative strategies to a geographical challenge using environmental, social and economic criteria.

Syllabus Outcomes: GE5-2, GE5-3, GE5-5.

General capabilities: Literacy, Critical and Creative Thinking.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability.

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work IPCC Climate Change Solutions.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – Lead students through discussion and support them in independent work.

Resources required:

  • Art supplies – coloured pencils and textas
  • Individual devices capable of accessing the internet – one per student
  • Student Worksheets – one copy per student
  • White paper – A3 size.

Related Professional Development: If you’re interested in learning more about how to approach challenging topics around climate change and sustainability in your classroom through a Hope and Optimism lens, consider our PD course.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ... understand the impact of the beef industry on climate change.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... use critical thinking to analyse studies on the impact of the beef industry on climate change.
  • ... inform and creatively persuade audiences of the impacts of the beef industry on climate change by creating pieces of media. 

Teacher content information: 


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was created to:

  • provide policymakers (governments) with regular scientific updates about climate change;
  • highlight the impact climate change will have on the planet in the future; and,
  • offer some ideas about how to tackle the challenges of climate change's potential effects on the planet.

In 2021-22, the IPCC released their sixth assessment report. This is the most up-to-date physical understanding of the

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Student Worksheet

Thought-starter: “Eating beef raised on grain produced in the Amazon is like coal-fuelled power plants – the worst thing you could possibly do.” -  Prof Walter Willett, a leading nutritionist at the public health school of Harvard University

New analysis shows that while meat and dairy provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein, it uses the vast majority – 83% – of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions. If cattle were their own nation, they would be the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

This is because cows and sheep are “ruminants” – meaning that their stomachs contain specialised bacteria capable of digesting tough and fibrous material, such as grass. The digestive process causes the animals to belch out methane.

What are the challenges?

Conventional livestock production is land and water thirsty: farmed animals graze 30% of the earth’s land and consume 8% of all water usage mediated by humans.

One reason for this is that co

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