National Climate Assessment draft skimps on climate change education

Mammatus clouds form over the Hayman BurnScar in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Photo by NOAA on Unsplash.

Climate change education is mentioned in the current draft of the Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5) report — but the treatment is scattered and unsystematic. "The National Climate Assessment report is intended to enhance the nation's ability to anticipate, mitigate, and adapt to changes in the global environment," commented NCSE's Executive Director Ann Reid. "But climate change education is the essential basis for any future action on climate change, so it is particularly unfortunate that the draft report skimps on it."

According to the United States Global Change Research Program, which is responsible for preparing the report, the quadrennial NCA reports are required to "a) integrate, evaluate, and interpret the findings of the Program and discuss the scientific uncertainties associated with such findings; b) analyze the effects of global change on the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, human social systems, and biological diversity; and c) analyze current trends in global change, both human-induced and natural, and project major trends for the subsequent 25 to 100 years." Prepared by experts under the guidance of a federal steering committee, the report undergoes internal and external review from federal agency experts, a panel of experts from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, and the general public.

In formal comments submitted on the draft NCA5 report, NCSE strongly recommended the inclusion of a separate section especially devoted to discussing the current state and future needs of education and outreach efforts on climate change. In addition, NCSE offered suggestions for improving the existing treatment of climate change education in the report. To review the draft NCA5 report and to submit comments of your own (by January 27, 2023), visit the United States Global Change Research Program Review and Comment System.

Glenn Branch
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Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.