You are here

Voices for Climate Change Education

Voices for Climate Change Education in PDF

Teaching Climate Change logo by Paula Spence for NCSE, 2012

Many leading scientific and educational groups have expressed support for teaching climate change in college, high school, grade school and informal settings. Here are some of their statements:

US Government

National Research Council of the National Academies of Science of the US, Climate Change Education: Goals, Audiences, and Strategies (2011):

The reality of global climate change lends increasing urgency to the need for effective education on earth system sciences, as well as on the human and behavioral dimensions of climate change, from broad societal action to smart energy choices at the household level.

National Research Council of the National Academies of Science of the US, Informing an Effective Response to Climate Change (2010):

The climate-related decisions that society will confront over the coming decades will require an informed and engaged public and an education system that provides students with the knowledge they need to make informed choices about responses to climate change. Today’s students will become tomorrow’s decision makers as business leaders, farmers, government officials, and citizens. Our report finds that much more could be done to improve climate literacy, increase public understanding of climate science and choices, and inform decision makers about climate change, including an urgent need for research on effective methods of climate change education and communication.

US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP):

People want to know how climate change and variability affect their lives and livelihoods and whether humans can and should do something about global warming. There is a growing imperative for the actionable climate and environmental information that is needed to inform resource management, planning, and other decisions taking place across the [n]ation.

Educational Organizations

American Federation of Teachers

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers affirm, through a positional statement on its website, the validity of using scientific inquiry methods to address the issue of global climate changes; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT affirm, through a positional statement on its website, that arguments against the current scientific model on climate change be subjected to the standard rigor and scrutiny of the relevant field instead of being subjected to manipulation by special interest groups; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT call upon its members to assist those engaged in overseeing science education policy to understand the nature of science, the content of contemporary climate science and the inappropriateness of including non-science in our science curriculum.

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego:

Human activities are changing the composition of the atmosphere and causing Earth's temperature to rise at an unprecedented rate. Educating the public, especially school-age children, about the environmental changes likely to occur within the next 50 years due to climate warming is not only socially responsible; history shows that the fortunes of human health and civilization may depend on it.

California Science Teachers Association:

There is broad scientific consensus that the Earth’s climate is warming and the observed increase in warming over the past several decades is attributed to human activity. Moreover, climate change is one of the greatest scientific challenges this generation of students and teachers will face. The California Science Teacher Association understands that (1) the Earth’s climate is changing, (2) the evidence demonstrates recent warming is the result of human activities, and (3) there are direct impacts already observable in California. As science educators we recognize that we have a responsibility to help students understand the evidence, impacts, and possible solutions of climate change. 

Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (PDF):

CAZA and its Institutional Members, recognizing the threats from climate change facing species, habitats and biomes both in Canada and throughout the world, commit to increasing the quality and quantity of their actions to counter the threat of climate change as well as promote awareness of the impact that climate change is having on the Earth’s biodiversity.

National Association of Geoscience Teachers:

The National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) recognizes: (1) that Earth's climate is changing, (2) that present warming trends are largely the result of human activities, and (3) that teaching climate change science is a fundamental and integral part of earth science education.

Professional Science Organizations

American Geological Institute:

The American Geological Institute (AGI) strongly supports education concerning the scientific evidence of past climate change, the potential for future climate change due to the current building of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and the policy options available. Understanding the interactions between the solid Earth, the oceans, the biosphere, and the atmosphere both in the present and over time is critical for accurately analyzing and predicting global climate change due to natural processes and possible human influences.

American Geophysical Union:

Members of the AGU, as part of the scientific community, collectively have special responsibilities: to pursue research needed to understand it; to educate the public on the causes, risks, and hazards; and to communicate clearly and objectively with those who can implement policies to shape future climate.

American Meteorological Society:

Efforts to properly teach climate science are regularly challenged by those seeking to frame it as somehow different from other scientific subjects, often with claims that it is either “uncertain” or “controversial.” They advocate the need for a special approach to its teaching, such as added effort to balance perspectives. With this statement, the AMS seeks to confirm the solid scientific foundation on which climate change science rests, and to emphasize that teaching approaches different from other sciences are not warranted. Uncertainty is a natural component of all scientific endeavor. The existence of uncertainty does not undermine the scientific validity of climate change science; to the contrary, it provides a sound example for broader instruction of the scientific method.

Geological Society of America:

[T]he Geological Society recommends that its members take the following actions: Actively participate in professional education and discussion activities to be technically informed about the latest advances in climate science. … Engage in public education activities in the community, including the local level.

The American Chemical Society recommends the development of:

a national strategy to support climate change education and communication that both involves students, technical professionals, public servants and the general public, as well as being integrated with state and local initiatives. A national climate education act could serve as a catalyzing agent to reinvigorate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education across the nation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics calls on government at all levels to:

Support education and public awareness of the threats from climate change for public and children’s health now and in the future.

State and Municipal Governments

New York City Council, Resolution 0375 (2016):

Whereas, According to the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), “it is important for the science of climate change to be taught, both in formal and informal educational environments, in order for future citizens to be able to make scientifically informed decisions about the consequences of climate change;” and ...

Whereas, It is important that today’s students are equipped with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to navigate in a changing world; ...

now, therefore, be it

                     Resolved, That the Council of the City of New York calls upon New York State Department of Education to include lessons on climate change in K-12 schools’ curriculum.

International Organizations

UNESCO, Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development (2010, PDF):

What children learn today will shape tomorrow’s world. Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development (CCESD), therefore, has a central role to play in helping the general public and especially the next generations understand and relate to the issues, make lifestyle changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and adapt to the changing local conditions. While CCESD at all levels and in both formal and non-formal settings is needed, instilling climate change awareness and understanding at a young age is ultimately the best way to change behaviours and attitudes.