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      Climate science curricula in Canadian secondary schools focus on human warming, not scientific consensus, impacts or solutions

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      PLoS ONE

      Public Library of Science

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          Abstract

          Despite an overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change poses severe risks to human and natural systems, many young Canadian adults do not view it as a major issue. We analyzed secondary science curricula in each province for their coverage of climate change according to six core topics: physical climate mechanisms (“It’s climate”), observed increase in temperature (“It’s warming”), anthropogenic causes of warming (“It’s us”), scientific consensus (“Experts agree”), negative consequences associated with warming (“It’s bad”), and the possibility for avoiding the worst effects (“We can fix it”). We found that learning objectives tend to focus on knowledge of the first three elements, with little or no emphasis on scientific consensus, climate change impacts, or ways to address the issue. The provinces of Saskatchewan and Ontario provide the most comprehensive standards for climate change education, while Nova Scotia and New Brunswick provide the least. We conducted interviews with individuals responsible for curriculum design in six different provinces to understand how curriculum documents are developed and whether political controversies influence the writing process. Interviewees described a process relying on input from professionals, institutions, and members of the public where curriculum developers made decisions independent of political concerns. In some cases, efforts to provide balance may have led to a focus on social controversy, contrary to overwhelming scientific consensus. Curriculum documents are the basis for teacher instruction and textbook content; aligning these documents with the best possible evidence can improve student learning and engage the next generation of Canadians on the critical issue of climate change.

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          Most cited references 56

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          Mind the Gap: Why do people act environmentally and what are the barriers to pro-environmental behavior?

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            The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks

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              Climate change. Accelerating extinction risk from climate change.

               Mark Urban (2015)
              Current predictions of extinction risks from climate change vary widely depending on the specific assumptions and geographic and taxonomic focus of each study. I synthesized published studies in order to estimate a global mean extinction rate and determine which factors contribute the greatest uncertainty to climate change-induced extinction risks. Results suggest that extinction risks will accelerate with future global temperatures, threatening up to one in six species under current policies. Extinction risks were highest in South America, Australia, and New Zealand, and risks did not vary by taxonomic group. Realistic assumptions about extinction debt and dispersal capacity substantially increased extinction risks. We urgently need to adopt strategies that limit further climate change if we are to avoid an acceleration of global extinctions.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: Writing – original draftRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: MethodologyRole: Project administrationRole: SupervisionRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                1932-6203
                18 July 2019
                2019
                : 14
                : 7
                Affiliations
                Lund University, Centre for Sustainability Studies, Lund, Sweden
                Royal Holloway University of London, UNITED KINGDOM
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                [¤]

                Current address: University of British Columbia, The Department of Geography, Vancouver, BC, Canada

                Article
                PONE-D-18-18206
                10.1371/journal.pone.0218305
                6639000
                31318862
                © 2019 Wynes, Nicholas

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 4, Pages: 21
                Product
                Funding
                The authors received no specific funding for this work.
                Categories
                Research Article
                Earth Sciences
                Atmospheric Science
                Climatology
                Climate Change
                Anthropogenic Climate Change
                Earth Sciences
                Atmospheric Science
                Climatology
                Climate Change
                Social Sciences
                Sociology
                Education
                Textbooks
                People and Places
                Population Groupings
                Professions
                Teachers
                People and places
                Geographical locations
                North America
                Canada
                Social Sciences
                Sociology
                Education
                Schools
                Science Policy
                Science and Technology Workforce
                Careers in Research
                Scientists
                People and Places
                Population Groupings
                Professions
                Scientists
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Neuroscience
                Cognitive Science
                Cognitive Psychology
                Learning
                Human Learning
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Psychology
                Cognitive Psychology
                Learning
                Human Learning
                Social Sciences
                Psychology
                Cognitive Psychology
                Learning
                Human Learning
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Neuroscience
                Learning and Memory
                Learning
                Human Learning
                Custom metadata
                All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files.

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