Quantcast

Majority of Americans Want Climate Education in Schools

Climate
iStock

In a rebuke to efforts by the Heartland Institute and at least 10 state legislatures, a large majority of Americans believe climate change should be taught in schools, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) reported Wednesday.

When the YPCCC asked Americans, "Should schools teach our children about the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to global warming?", a national average of 78 percent either somewhat or strongly agreed that they should.


Moreover, a large majority shared that view in all of the 50 states and more than 3,000 counties surveyed, whether or not they favored Republicans or Democrats in elections.

Yale Program on Climate Change Communication

The results suggest that efforts in at least 10 states to alter how climate change is addressed in state educational standards are out of step with voters.

For example, YPCCC holds up the case of Idaho, where state legislators argued that no section on human-caused climate change should be included in state science standards, but instead arguments for and against a human role should be presented. Scientists and educators successfully argued that such a move would damage the education and futures of students by presenting a scientific consensus on an urgent issue as up-for-debate. The final decision was in line with the majority of Idahoans views, since, according to YPCCC data, 76 percent of them support climate education.

The same is true for the residents of other states debating their science standards, including Texas, Oklahoma and Kentucky.

Yale Program on Climate Change Communication

National Center for Science Education Deputy Director Glenn Branch told Business Insider in 2017 that, when it comes to determining state science standards, "the two topics that arouse the most discontent and controversy are climate change and evolution."

But the YPCCC data suggests that that controversy is manufactured at the political level and not felt by most Americans.

One key controversy-monger, according to YPCCC, is the climate-denying think tank the Heartland Institute. In March 2017, the fossil-fuel-funded group sent out 25,000 copies of a book called Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming to science teachers nationwide.

Despite that effort, majority opinion seems more in line with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a science-education template that Branch called "the gold standard." The NGSS clearly link human activity to climate change and have been accepted by 19 states and Washington, DC, Business Insider reported.

However, more teacher education is needed to ensure U.S. school children are learning accurate climate science. YPCCC cited research published in Science that found that only 30 percent of middle school and 45 percent of high school science teachers understand the degree of scientific consensus on human-caused climate change. Worse, 30 percent of teachers who teach climate change tell their students it is due to natural causes.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pick one of these nine activism styles, and you can start making change. YES! Illustrations by Delphine Lee

By Cathy Brown

Most of us have heard about UN researchers warning that we need to make dramatic changes in the next 12 years to limit our risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty caused by climate change. Report after report about a bleak climate future can leave people in despair.

Read More Show Less
Jamie Grill Photography / Getty Images

Losing weight, improving heart health and decreasing your chances for metabolic diseases like diabetes may be as simple as cutting back on a handful of Oreos or saying no to a side of fries, according to a new study published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
A boy gives an impromptu speech about him not wanting to die in the next 10 years during the protest on July 15. The Scottish wing of the Extinction Rebellion environmental group of Scotland locked down Glasgow's Trongate for 12 hours in protest of climate change. Stewart Kirby / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

It's important to remember that one person can make a difference. From teenagers to world-renowned scientists, individuals are inspiring positive shifts around the world. Maybe you won't become a hard-core activist, but this list of people below can inspire simple ways to kickstart better habits. Here are seven people advocating for a better planet.

Read More Show Less
A group of wind turbines in a field in Banffshire, Northeast Scotland. Universal Images Group / Getty Images

Scotland produced enough power from wind turbines in the first half of 2019, that it could power Scotland twice over. Put another way, it's enough energy to power all of Scotland and most of Northern England, according to the BBC — an impressive step for the United Kingdom, which pledged to be carbon neutral in 30 years.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Beekeeper Jeff Anderson works with members of his family in this photo from 2014. He once employed all of his adult children but can no longer afford to do so. CHRIS JORDAN-BLOCH / EARTHJUSTICE

By Jessica A. Knoblauch

It's been a particularly terrible summer for bees. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is allowing the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor back on the market. And just a few weeks prior, the USDA announced it is suspending data collection for its annual honeybee survey, which tracks honeybee populations across the U.S., providing critical information to farmers and scientists.

Read More Show Less

tommaso79 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Rachel Licker

As a new mom, I've had to think about heat safety in many new ways since pregnant women and young children are among the most vulnerable to extreme heat.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

It's easy to get confused about which foods are healthy and which aren't.

Read More Show Less