The study found that students are taught that climate change is happening and that it is caused by humans, but that teaching is coming up short about the strength of the scientific consensus behind climate change, its impacts or solutions.
“That’s important because if students don’t understand that there are solutions or that experts agree this is a problem that’s caused by humans, they’re unlikely to be motivated to help solve the problem,” Seth Wynes, a University of British Columbia doctoral candidate who was lead author on the study, told Canadian Press.
The study, co-led by Kimberly Nicholas at Sweden’s Lund University, found only the Saskatchewan curriculum covers that there is overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is real and only five provinces teach possible solutions for climate change.
The study analysed high school science textbooks and curricula in Canada’s 10 provinces and territories and interviewed people responsible for curriculum design in six provinces.
Researchers rated high school science curricula documents across Canada on six core areas: basic knowledge of the physical climate system (“it’s climate”); observations of rising temperatures (“it’s warming”); warming is caused by human activities (“it’s us”); scientific consensus (“experts agree”); negative consequences associated with warming (“it’s bad”); and the possibility of avoiding the worst effects of climate change through rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions (“we can fix it”).
Wynes says the researchers were motivated by 2015 research that suggested a large portion of young adults were not that concerned about climate change
Wynes says it’s up to provincial governments, curriculum writers and local teachers to make the needed changes.
He says young people “want to know they can be part of addressing the problem. And it’s important to me they’re getting the best possible information.”
With files from CP, Huffington Post, University of British Columbia