NCSE staffers in Nature Climate Change

Nature Climate Change

"Science literacy still matters" — a letter by NCSE's Mark McCaffrey and Joshua Rosenau — was published in the journal Nature Climate Change (2012; 2[9]:636; subscription required). Responding to mischaracterizations in the media of a recent study finding that science literacy is negatively correlated with concern about climate change, they noted that the study in question failed to examine people's understanding of climate science in particular, and thus cannot be regarded as evidence that climate literacy efforts are fruitless. Different researchers have found a correlation between understanding of climate science in particular and concern about climate change, they added.

McCaffrey and Rosenau observed, "in US schools, climate change is often skipped entirely and, if taught, is presented briefly or as a political controversy. ... Most students rely on their schools for climate change science and — with rare exceptions — they are not getting what they need." They concluded, "strategic framing, including minimizing doom and gloom by integrating science with solutions, is vital, especially in educational settings. But dismissing literacy as unimportant or irrelevant is wrong. Although literacy alone can't solve the climate problem, it provides society with the tools and shared basis for understanding the science and solutions before us."