Climate Change Education weblog
International blog for teachers dealing with Climate Change education. It’s part of the Teacherscop15.dk site. Denmark is hosting the UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen, Dec. 2009. Comments are very welcome; moderated before publishing.
by Anders Raun
By Anders Raun, Specialist Consultant at UNI-C - The Danish IT Centre for Education and Research - editor at the Teachers' COP15 website - http://teacherscop15.dk
After a warm welcome from Brian Krogh Christensen (Adviser to the Danish Ministry of Education) and Mikkel Bohm (Director at the Danish Science Communication)
(Poor photo quality, sorry about that)
Jens Hesselbjerg Christensen (Research Manager at the Danish Climate Centre/Danish Meteorological Institute) introduced us to "the way of the IPCC" - the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Among other things Jens told how the IPCC body under the UN works - for instance the "line by line" acceptance of the written text in the IPCC reports and the challenge of dealing with the vast amount of comments on the reports before publishing the final edition on which politicians all over the world are to build their decisions. (By the way Jens was only working on chapter 11).
Afterwards Søren Breiting (Associate Professor at the Department of Curriculum Research at the Danish School of Education/University of Aarhus) spoke on teaching climate issues. One of the main points was that over time teaching action comptence is worth much more than campaigns when the talk is on behavioral change.
So what are we to do? Change our own behaviour in the present? Teach future generations to gain action competence? Maybe both!
To finish this conference "liftoff" Minik Thorleif Rosing (Professor and Head of the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen) explained how the hypercomplex (as said just 60 minutes ago by Jens Hesselbjerg) structure of climate system is actually quite simple: The sun adds a lot of energy and Earth emits heat energy. On top of this humans burn some energy (mainly from fossile fuels). The point being that we do not lack energy, we just utilize the existing energy in a rather stupid manner - because we are used to it. If we were to start from scarth again we would probably look at the sun for answers.
What a morning - the stage is set!
By the way... don't forget to click here to check out Mark McCaffreys' blog too (opens a new window) - he will be speaking tomorrow.
by Anders Raun
By Anders Raun, Specialist Consultant at UNI-C - The Danish IT Centre for Education and Research - editor at the Teachers' COP15 website.
Working with a high profile topic - climate change - we are in the middle of a very busy Autumn. To speed things further up Denmark is hosting the conference ICE2009 - Inspiring Climate in Education this week - October 12th through 14th. Click here to open the conference web page (opens a new window).
The conference takes place at the Copenhagen Business School (CBS) in Copenhagen, it is financed by the Danish Ministry of Education and planned by The Danish Science Communication (DNF). At Teachers' COP 15 we are happy to work closely with DNF to feature posters from the conference's poster session on our climate world map. Click here to open the climate world map and put your project in the map as well (opens a new window).
Earlier we also had a blog entry from one of the speakers at the upcoming ICE09 conference - Mark Stanislaus McCaffrey. Mark from Colorado has arrived early in Copenhagen and you can read some of his thoughts on climate and climate in education on his blog from CIRES, Colorado. Mark is Associate Scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder Click here to read Marks blog (opens a new window).
We are also looking for bloggers for the workshops at the ICE09 conference. Please contact us if you are attending one of the workshops and want to share your thoughts! (Use the contact details on the Teachers' COP15 website).
If you are wondering what else is being done to promote "climate change" in education you might want to click here to take a look at the official COP15 website describing the Climate Education 2009 project from the Danish Ministry of Education.
We look forward to meeting you all here in Copenhagen this week!
by Claus Berg
Tom Bowman is president of Bowman Design Group and Bowman Global Change, creator of climate exhibitions at the Marian Koshland Science Museum (Washington, DC) of the National Academy of Science and the Birch Aquarium at Scripps (La Jolla, California) and energy exhibitions in the electric utility industry. He is a co-author of “Essential Principles of Climate Sciences” and author of a NOAA-sponsored report assessing research on public attitudes about climate change (NOAA = National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Tom lives and works in California, USA.
Which Climate Questions Are Most Urgent?
In his post, “Toward a Climate Literate and Energy Aware Society,” Mark McCaffrey asked, “What are the most essential principles relating to climate science and energy solutions that people should understand?” This is an urgent question, yet formal educators and public communication practitioners might arrive at different answers. In fact, a persistent tension between the longer-term goals of formal education and the immediacy with which the public must make decisions about our future tends to mask some important educational priorities.
The results of public surveys in the United States indicate that an overwhelming majority of American adults already knows that the climate is changing, that human activities are at least partly responsible, and that the consequences of climate change will, on the whole, be harmful. But many Americans think that harmful consequences will only be felt in the future and in distant lands, and there is confusion about whether viable solutions are available.
On the one hand, understanding of the basic climate change formula is widespread—that fossil fuel burning and deforestation increase the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which warms the planet and causes the climate to change. On the other hand, the nature of climate risks and scale of effort required for minimizing them, as well as the timetables for effective mitigation, are poorly understood. Most American adults realize that there is a problem, but they are not equipped to make informed decisions about managing the risks and opportunities.
Informed citizens need to know how risks correlate with rising temperatures. For example, what risks are associated with the European Union and G8 decisions to allow warming to 2°C above pre-Industrial temperatures? How do various emissions trajectories correlate with global temperatures and impacts on humanity and other species? Valuable as the answers would be, mining the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments for information and correlating the results are well beyond the capacity of most non-scientists. So, too, is the task of making information about policy mechanisms, costs, and other tradeoffs comprehensible to non-experts.
In the 3 April 2009 issue of Science, a group of climate scientists, communication experts, and I called for a focused initiative to explain where humanity stands on a scale of escalating climate risks and what can be done to manage those risks. In contrast to the comprehensive approaches used in the “Essential Principles of Climate Sciences” and many popular books, a more surgical approach to informing citizens is necessary now.
During the next few years the public will hear a debate about whether to limit rising temperatures and, if so, where and how. During that time, some risk management opportunities will probably slip away. An informed public needs to understand the risks, the various risk management pathways, and the tradeoffs involved in choosing our future. They will need this information very soon. A key question for the formal and informal education communities is how to address these priorities in their programs.
|“Summary Report: A Meeting to Assess Public Attitudes about Climate Change” assessed the state of public attitudes research in April 2008. Participants included principle investigators from the political psychology and advocacy research communities. The report provides a survey and analysis of recent opinion research, plus a bibliography of seminal papers by the principle investigators. http://www.climatechangecommunication.org/resources_reports.cfm|
| “Creating a Common Climate Language” calls on the science and communication communities to overcome specific barriers to public understanding of climate risks.
by Claus Berg
Mark S. McCaffrey is an Associate Scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, a co-author of the Essential Principles of Climate Literacy, co-Principle Investigator of the Climate Literacy Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN) and was lead author of the NOAA Paleo Perspective on Abrupt Climate Change. He will be sharing his experience and research on climate science misconceptions and related topics at the Inspiring Climate Education 2009 Conference October 11-13, 2009 in Copenhagen.
As I prepare to visit the Copenhagen to attend the Inspiring Climate Education Conference, it occurs to me that the enormous confusion that many (if not most) Americans have about climate science and energy issues may not be as acute in Europe and particularly Denmark, where awareness – and action-- seem much more robust.
My perspective as a science educator who has spent much of the last decade in the United States struggling inside and outside of government agencies to convey the basics of climate, the water and carbon cycles through education and outreach programs, may seem odd to Europeans who haven’t had to deal with powerful political obstructions and vocal deniers of climate science.
That said, when it comes to mitigating and adapting to climate disruption, we’re all in the same proverbial boat . And we all have substantial “room for improvement” when it comes to fostering science savvy societies that are able to make informed, strategic decisions based on current science. Indeed, the outlook of this and future generations depends in many ways on our collective coming to grips with the climate crisis and related environmental disruptions.
While we continue to learn about the complexities of climate, scientists have had a good handle on the basics of the climate system and the greenhouse effect for the past 150 years after John Tyndall identified carbon dioxide and water vapor as gases that amplify the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere. We’ve also known the potential for burning fossil fuels adding to that warming effect for over a century when Svante Arrhenius did his calculations on “the influences of carbonic acid in the air upon the temperature of the ground.”
And for over fifty years science education has noted—not always clearly and sometimes as a mere footnote lost amongst the myriad other human impacts on the environment—that human activities could in time melt ice caps and cause sea levels to rise. Indeed, the changes anticipated by Arrhenius and others generations ago are now occurring, not in distant places but in our own communities and backyards, perhaps most crucially in our ocean, where carbonic acid is altering the chemical balance of the seas and the ocean expands and rises.
Yes, climate is complex and can certainly be confusing. It is highly interdisciplinary, cutting across numerous disciplines. Many if not most science educators teaching traditional biology, chemistry and physics may never have been trained in the basics of climate science. Earth sciences have also been traditionally rooted in geology, where rocks rule and deep time prevails. Climate fits between geological and meteorological processes, and all too often falls through the disciplinary cracks.
Most students learn the basics of weather at a young age. It’s a good place to start—observing local weather events and seasonal changes. But climate, while obviously related to weather is inherently different, requiring different theories, models and pedagogy. At least in the United States, few teachers have training—or the time or mandate—to dig deeply into climate processes. When climate change is taught, it is often ad hoc, emphasizing polar bears and carbon calculators over in-depth understanding of carbon, climate and complex interactions.
There are a few glimmers of progress in terms of increased awareness. People around the world are now taking human-caused climate change seriously, though many perceive it as something occurring elsewhere, sometime in the future. Not an immediate concern.
For others, especially the several billion people around the planet who are in daily survival mode and are already (or soon will be) the most vulnerable to changes in climate and rising ocean levels, climate change is abstract and not something they can relate to. Food, jobs and basic sustenance are the necessary priority in their lives?
However, for the young people in our communities and classrooms who are learning about the planet, acquiring skills and insights into the complex socio-environmental and economic realities of the world, knowing the basics of climate and energy is imperative. As we move (ideally quickly and strategically) to provide young people in particular and society in general with the basic information and tools to address the challenges we face, there are a number of key questions that should to be addressed:
- What are the most essential principles relating to climate science and energy solutions that people should understand?
- How crucial is an understanding of the water and carbon cycles to making informed climate decisions?
- What are common misconceptions that students (and in some cases teachers) often hold about the basics of climate and energy sciences, and what are the “best practices” to address them?
- How can climate science best be coupled with energy solutions?
- Given what we know about cognitive and emotional development of young people, isn’t overwhelming them with gloom and doom about melting ice caps and the demise of the polar bears counterproductive at best? (In fact, many young people have very apocalyptic views of the future, as do, for that matter, many adults. Minimizing “ecophobia” without glossing over the issues of population, consumption and environmental impacts requires tact and skill.)
- Where does climate and energy equity fit into the curriculum, and how can these discussions be informed by science?
- How do we best balance emerging opportunities with a sober analysis of the facts?
Human-induced global change is really a symptom of outdated ways of thinking, worldviews, and ideologies that are not only unsustainable but threaten the very survivability of the human species and environmental systems we depend on. Discovering ways to encourage whole systems, holistic thinking and behavior (“walking the talk”) is perhaps the ultimate conundrum of this generation as we move to address the phenomenal challenges of the 21st century.
The Essential Principles of Climate Science
"The Essential Principles of Climate Science" presents important information for individuals and communities to understand Earth's climate, impacts of climate change, and approaches for adapting and mitigating change. Principles in the guide can serve as discussion starters or launching points for scientific inquiry. The guide can also serve educators who teach climate science as part of their science curricula
The Essential Principles of Climate Literacy version 2
"The Essential Principles of Climate Literacy" version 2 was released in March, 2009 with additional input from climate experts and federal agencies participating in the U.S. Climate Change Science Program. While the original focus was on providing a framework for K12 science teachers, the new version is geared to serve not only educators but all individuals and communities interested in learning the basics of climate science