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Welcome to the National Center for Science Education’s climate change education initiative. Long respected for its work in defending and supporting the teaching of evolution in the public schools, in 2012 NCSE launched this new initiative to defend and support the teaching of climate change. This section of the website includes the four main sections of the climate change education resources here.
There is substantial scientific agreement about the occurrence, causes, and consequences of climate change. Yet due to the inherent complexity of the topic and the social controversies surrounding it, confusion and doubt often persist. “Climate Change 101” presents the central questions about climate change — is the climate changing? are humans causing that change? what will the consequences be? what can be done about it? — answering them based on the current best scientific understanding.
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. But educators face challenges in helping their students attain climate literacy. “Teaching about Climate Change” reviews these challenges and offers suggestions and resources to help meet them.
The social controversy over climate change is in part due to climate change denial. In order to defend and support the teaching of climate change, it is important to understand — and be able to rebut — arguments about climate science, and to understand why people choose to attack such well-tested science. “Climate Change Denial” provides the essential tools, and also describes how climate change denial is already threatening the integrity of science education.
There are obstacles to climate change education beyond the attempts of climate change deniers to undermine climate change education. Even in the absence of such attacks, it is often difficult to find resources, support, or even a niche for teaching climate change within the educational system. Fortunately, there are solutions. “Taking Action” provides resources and tips for defending and supporting climate change education.
Here are our resources on climate change and climate change denial:
NCSE Climate publications
Recent NCSE climate publications
Eric Plutzer, Mark McCaffrey, A. Lee Hannah, Joshua Rosenau, Minda Berbeco, and Ann H. Reid, "Climate Confusion Among U.S. Teachers" (PDF), Science 351 (6274):665-666.
Minda R. Berbeco and Mark McCaffrey, "Fostering Educator Resilience" (PDF), a chapter in Communicating Climate‐Change and Natural Hazard Risk and Cultivating Resilience (Springer 2015).
A flyer explaining why a denialist pamphlet from the so-called Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) does not belong in classrooms (PDF). The pamphlet was mailed to thousands of teachers.
"Toward a Climate & Energy Literate Society" (PDF), a report on the Climate and Energy Literacy Summit organized by NCSE in December, 2012, recommending steps to increase climate and energy literacy.
"Defending Science Education: Climate as a Second Front for Biologists", an essay in BioScience by Glenn Branch.
"Will Climate Change Denial Inherit the Wind?", an invited essay by Josh Rosenau, examining the climate change denial movement similarities to its growth and the early growth of the creationist movement.
"Getting the Science Right: Teaching Climate Change in the Classroom," by Minda Berbeco, offers guidance to science teachers looking for lesson plans and activities to use in teaching climate change.
In "Teaching controversy" Mark McCaffrey addresses the danger in calls to teach climate change as if it were scientifically controversial.
Presentations on communicating climate change, including talks by Mark McCaffrey and Minda Berbeco, from the American Geophysical Union's 2013 Chapman Conference.
Public presentations by staff, available on YouTube.