HEAT Teacher’s Guide home page


About the Film

Melting glaciers, rising sea levels, fires, floods and droughts. On the eve of a historic election, award-winning producer and correspondent Martin Smith investigates how the world's largest corporations and governments are responding to Earth's looming environmental disaster. With that sense of urgency in mind, Smith traveled to 12 countries on four continents to investigate whether major corporations and governments are up to the challenge. The report paints an ominous portrait. Despite increasing talk about "going green," across the planet, environmental concerns are still taking a back seat to shorter-term economic interests.


Watching the Film

Teachers can either assign the film for viewing as homework or show the film in class. Suggested discussion questions are provided. The lessons and activities in this guide are focused on excerpts from the film and can be viewed on DVD in class or online. Introduction and exit indicators are provided for each segment.


Note to Teachers

This guide is intended for classes in social studies, civics and government, environmental studies, language arts, current events and history; Grade Level 9th 12th. The guide examines the political, economic, and social costs and benefits of addressing the global change issue as presented in the HEAT documentary. You can modify the lesson to accommodate instructional time and student abilities.


Discussion Questions:

This guide includes a list of questions for students to discuss after viewing HEAT.


Featured Lesson Plan:

“A Daunting Task: Cost/Benefit Analysis of Acting on Global Warming”

Lesson Objectives:

Students will:

  • Examine the costs and benefits of the continued use of fossil fuels, developing fuel-efficient vehicles and renewable resources
  • Analyze the political, economic, and social costs and benefits of addressing issues surrounding global climate change


Additional Lesson Ideas:

FRONTLINE’S Hot Politics
FRONTLINE'S Hot Politics examines the politics behind the U.S. government’s failure to act on the biggest environmental problem of our time. The teacher’s guide examines the wide range of viewpoints and scientific evidence that surrounds the issue of global warming and climate change.

Energy Companies’ Media Messages
Students review and analyze energy companies’ media messages on global warming.

The President’s Energy Policy
Assessing President-elect Barack Obama's energy policy for addressing climate change

PBS NOW with David Brancaccio The Heat over Global Warming Lesson Plan
This lesson is based on the 2007 NOW episode The Heat over Global Warming. Students will explore the causes and impact of global warming and explore perspectives on the global warming debate.



An annotated list of relevant Web sites.


Purchasing the Film:

HEAT can be purchased from Shop PBS for Teachers. Also, teachers and students can watch the film streamed on FRONTLINE’s Web site



This teacher’s guide was developed by Simone Bloom Nathan of Media Education Consultants. It was written by Greg Timmons, curriculum writer and educational consultant. Advisers were Ellen Greenblatt of The Bay School, San Francisco, and Debra Plafker Gutt, Stuyvesant High School, New York.

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