NESTA poll on climate change education

The National Earth Science Teachers Association released the executive summary of its 2011 on-line survey on climate change education, which examines (PDF) the responses of 555 K-12 educators in the United States who teach about climate change. These teachers generally accept the scientific consensus on climate change, with 89% agreeing that global warming is happening and only 13% attributing it mainly to natural changes in the environment. Only 63% of the general public in the United States agree that global warming is happening and as many as 35% attribute it to natural changes, according (PDF) to a 2011 report from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.

Over a third of respondents to the NESTA survey — 36% — reported that they "have been influenced in some way (directly or indirectly) to teach 'both sides' of climate change." Although only 5% reported that they were required to teach “both sides” of climate change, 47% reported that they taught "both sides" because they thought that "there is validity to both sides." About 38% of respondents agreed that "students have misconceptions about climate change that are hard to address"; about 25-30% reported that students, parents, administrators, or community members have disputed with them that climate change is happening or is the result of human activity.

A full report of the NESTA survey responses from active K-12 climate change educators is expected to be released in early 2012. NESTA's survey was informally conducted on-line, as was a similar survey conducted among the members of the National Science Teachers Association in 2011. (The NSTA survey found that 82% of respondents reported having faced skepticism about climate change and climate change education from students, 54% reported having faced such skepticism from parents, and 26% reported having faced such skepticism from administrators.) A rigorous survey of the prevalence and nature of climate change skepticism in the classroom apparently remains to be performed.

If you support evolution education, support NCSE.

National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, EIN 11-2656357. NCSE is supported by individuals, foundations, and scientific societies. Review our annual audited financial statements and IRS 990 forms at GuideStar.

© Copyright 2020 National Center for Science Education. Privacy Policy and Disclaimer | Disclosures Required by State Law