For most Americans—and virtually all credible climate scientists—the reality of climate change is finally undeniable. However, educational science standards have not kept pace with evolving climate science; in fact, they have not been updated in the United States since 1996.
Two-thirds of students in the US report that they have not learned much about climate change.
Fortunately, that is about to change. After three years of consultation and research, the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Achieve will unveil the Next Generation Science Standards this week. “For the first time, the proposed education standards identify climate change as a core concept for science curricula and focus on the relationship between that change and human activity,” reports the Los Angeles Times.
In the US, each state has the power to determine their educational priorities and accept or reject recommended standards. Experts anticipate that 40 states will choose to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards—a huge win for the field of education and the environment.
In the past, many states have been reluctant to teach climate literacy. It is now widely recognized that scientific evidence needs to be used to link knowledge, skills and actions to tackle climate change. With its impacts felt locally and internationally, educators are committed to strengthening society’s ability to understand changes in our environment.
The Rainforest Alliance’s Role
Because many educators lack the resources and knowledge to teach climate literacy, the Rainforest Alliance has been working to introduce teachers to our Climate Educator Guide since 2010. Developed in conjunction with Project Learning Tree, the free curriculum is available in English and Spanish and provides easy-to-use lessons for middle school students.
Through these lessons, pupils learn climate science basics and discover how these concepts relate to the importance of reducing carbon emissions from deforestation. “In the community of Carmelita, Guatemala, we saw firsthand how environmental, social and economic concerns are interconnected with the day-to-day life of local people,” explains the Rainforest Alliance’s climate director Jeff Hayward. “Students learn how carbon credits can support communities who protect and manage forests sustainably while fighting climate change.”
In addition to this free online Climate Educator Guide, the Rainforest Alliance provides in-person professional development and community training related to climate change domestically and internationally.
Now more than ever, we need leaders in education to ensure that students are prepared to use scientific evidence to make informed decisions and take responsible actions. Together, we can foster the development of climate literate nations that contribute to a sustainable future and a prosperous planet.
Learn how the Rainforest Alliance’s climate program is helping communities and business through training, certification and verification.