Views of the Uncertainties of Climate Change: A Comparison of High School Students and Specialists

Stephen Adams

Abstract


Scientific uncertainty permeates the issue of climate change, and public policy decisions must be made in the context of this uncertainty. This article describes interviews with high school students and specialists (scientists and policy analysts) about reasons for scientific disagreement about climate change and whether action is needed now. A comparison of these two groups suggests both pitfalls in the responses of the students and ways in which they effectively made use of non-specialized knowledge or even utilized strategies similar to those of specialists. Educational efforts to prepare students to make judgments about climate change should include not only the science that is certain, but should also address the nature of the uncertainties, reasons for scientific disagreement, and strategies for making decisions given the uncertainties.

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Copyright © Canadian Journal of Environmental Education (CJEE) ISSN 1205-5352