Though roughly 95 percent of scientists agree that climate change is caused by humans, you might not know it if you were learning about the environment in middle school or high school. In a recent randomized study of thousands of science teachers, a group of US researchers found that nearly a third of teachers tell students that the current observed trends in global climate change are "natural."
Published today in the journal Science, the results of the study reveal that science education on the subject is unevenly distributed. Teachers are all over the map when it comes to what they're teaching about climate change, with 30 percent telling students that "recent global warming 'is likely due to natural causes,'" and another 12 percent not emphasizing potential human causes of climate change. Additionally, 31 percent of teachers appeared to be giving students "mixed messages," teaching that Earth's climate changes could be caused by humans or by natural processes.
Making this scenario even more dismal is the fact that the average teacher only devotes one or two hours to climate change in their lesson plans. That means many students will graduate from high school having been exposed to perhaps only a single hour of teaching about climate change, which is arguably one of the most important drivers of both economic and scientific transformation in our time.