Climate Science Language in US Secondary School Student Textbooks, 2002–2012
Climate science language has a profound effect on students, lending voice and power to a complex, and at times, controversial subject despite scientific consensus. Climate science language usage for US secondary earth science textbooks from 2002 to 2012 is examined. Future decision-makers will need to be climate-literate in order to make choices about how to mitigate and/or adapt to climate change. Formal education plays a key role in creating an informed citizenry – one that is able to evaluate information for its reliability, validity, and veracity in order to draw reasonable and logical conclusions. In the US’s K-12 schools, science education is largely reliant on educational textbooks and publisher-supplied materials. Textbooks strive to reach a broad national audience often using general language and simplified topics, but climate science is an interdisciplinary and complicated topic. As such, understanding what earth science textbooks include and how it is conveyed provides an opportunity for publishers, scientists, and schools to better communicate scientific results and human decisions in order to address and understand climate change’s complexity.
KeywordsClimate change education Textbooks Secondary education Earth science Climate literacy
- California. (2016). California climate change. Retrieved from http://www.climatechange.ca.gov/climate_action_team/index.html. Accessed 15 Jan 2016.
- Castree, N. (2001). Socializing nature: Theory, practice, and politics. In N. Castree & B. Braun (Eds.), Social nature: Theory, practice and politics (pp. 1–21). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Castree, N. (2005). Nature. In S. Valentine & G. Holloway (Eds.), Key ideas in geography. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Choi, S., Niyogi, D., Shepardson, D. P., & Charusombat, U. (2010). Do earth and environmental science textbooks promote middle and high school students’ conceptual development about climate change? Textbooks consideration of students’ misconceptions. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 91, 889–898.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Cloke, P., & Johnston, R. (2005). Spaces of geographical thought. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Demeritt, D. (2002). What is the “social construction of nature”? A typology and sympathetic critique. Progress in Human Geography, 26(767), 24.Google Scholar
- IPCC. (2007). Climate change 2007: The physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the 4th assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, 2007. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- IPCC. (2014). Climate change 2014: Impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Part A: Global and sectoral aspects. Contribution of working group II to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Kincaid, J. P., Fishburne Jr, R. P., Rogers, R. L., & Chissom, B. S. (1975). Derivation of new readability formulas (automated readability index, fog count and flesch reading ease formula) for navy enlisted personnel (No. RBR-8-75). Naval technical training command millington TN research branch.Google Scholar
- Leiserowitz, A., Smith, N., & Marlon, J. R. (2011). American teens’ knowledge of climate change. Yale project on climate change communication. New Haven: Yale University Retrieved from http://environment.yale.edu/climate-communication/article/american-teens-knowledge-of-climate-change. Accessed 20 Sep 2015.Google Scholar
- Maine. Department of Environmental Protection. (2013). Sustainability: climate change. Retrieved from http://www.maine.gov/dep/sustainability/climate/. Accessed 15 Jan 2016.
- McCaffrey, M. S. (2012). Teaching controversy. The Earth Scientist, 28(3), 25–29.Google Scholar
- Melillo, J. M., Richmond, T. C., & Yohe, G. W. (Eds.). (2014). 2014: Climate change impacts in the United States: The third national climate assessment. Washington, DC: US Global Change Research Program.Google Scholar
- Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). (2013). Final next generation science standards released. Retrieved from http://www.nextgenscience.org/final-next-generation-science-standards-released.
- Niepold, F., Herring, D., & McConville, D. (2007). The case for climate literacy in the 21st century. The fifth international symposium on digital Earth. Retrieved from http://www.isde5.org.
- Nisbet, M. (2009). Communicating climate change: Why frames matter for public engagement. Environment, 51(2), 12–23.Google Scholar
- Pearce, W., Brown, B., Nerlich, B., & Koteyko N. (2015). Communicating climate change: conduits, content, and consensus. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 6(6), 613–626.Google Scholar
- Scripps Institute of Oceanography. (2016). The Keeling curve. UC San Diego. Retrieved from https://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/.
- Shanahan, M. (2007). Talking about a revolution: Climate change and the media. In COP13 briefing and opinion papers (pp. 1–4). London, UK: IIED.Google Scholar
- Sherwood, S. (2011). Science controversies past and present. Physics Today, October, 39–44.Google Scholar
- Tarbuck, F. K., & Lutgens, E. J. (2012). Earth science (13th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
- US Global Change Research Program/Climate Change Science Program (USGCRP/CCSP). (2009). Climate literacy: The essential principles of climate sciences. (2nd version). Retrieved from www.climatescience.gov.
- Virginia. (2015). Governor Terence R. McAuliffe’s climate change and update commission. Report and Final Recommendations to the Governor. Retrieved from https://naturalresources.virginia.gov/reports-and-documents/. Accessed 15 Jan 2016.