The top scientific experts in the United States have released a study that’s been making the rounds for years, and it has a lot in common with the work done by a similar group of high school science teachers, including the ones who created the popular meme “What do students know about climate science?”
The researchers found that students were actually more likely to be able to answer “yes” when asked to describe climate change in terms of what scientists have been saying for decades.
As Wired’s Matt Zoller Seitz writes, the findings “show that even those who know a lot about science know little about what’s actually being said by climate scientists.”
The research was published in the journal Science Advances on June 14.
The study involved a team of students from the University of California, San Diego.
“We looked at how students’ knowledge of climate science has changed over time and how this has influenced how they think about and respond to climate change,” said senior study author Laura Seltzer, a senior lecturer in the department of psychology at UC San Diego and one of the study’s authors.
“Our research shows that students are more likely than their teachers to be more aware of the science and to be willing to take action to make climate change a reality.”
This was the first time that the students had had the opportunity to interact with a real climate scientist, Seltzzer told the AP.
The researchers looked at students’ answers to three questions, and found that “yes,” “maybe,” and “maybe not” were the top answers, according to the AP: The number of students who said that climate change was a reality was lower than it had been in years.
The number who said it was not a reality fell from around a third of students in 2015 to about one in ten in 2018.
The students’ opinions about climate research changed over the past year.
Those who were asked about climate as a real science topic in the past few years tended to be less likely to say “yes.”
The students also tended to say climate was a real issue that needed to be addressed.
“They were asking the question of whether climate change is real and it didn’t feel like climate was being addressed,” Selter said.
“What I find fascinating is that the student scientists were able to get a different response, and I think that’s what we really wanted to see.”
As part of the experiment, the students were given a “Climate Change Survey” where they were given to four questions about climate and climate change.
Selters said the questions were about “what we know about global warming, the extent of global warming to which we are at, and how we can respond to that,” and the answers were a mix of “yes, maybe, and maybe not.”
Seltzers told Wired the results showed that “when it comes to climate science, the public has a really broad and complicated picture that doesn’t necessarily fit with what climate scientists are saying.”
SELTZER: ‘Students are more interested in climate science than they were five years ago’ The authors of the new study said they wanted to take a look at the impact of climate change on students.
“As scientists, we have been interested in how the public reacts to climate issues and how students respond to those,” Sels told Wired.
“The results of our study show that students and teachers were more interested than they had been five years before in the climate science.
But what is really exciting is that we found that climate science is now a topic that students really care about.”
For example, the researchers asked students to write a short essay on climate change and what they could do about it.
They found that they were less likely than before to write an essay about climate-related topics and were much more likely, in fact, to write about climate.
“It was a very different story when we asked students if climate change can be solved by technological means,” SELS said.
SELS: ‘We can’t get climate change out of the classroom’ “This study was an attempt to explore the ways in which climate science can be taught to students, and the impact that climate education has had on our understanding of climate issues,” SELTs co-author Alex Pasternak told Wired of the results.
“One thing that struck me was that climate awareness, as it is now being taught in schools, was lower for students who were exposed to climate education in the last five years.
I don’t think we can get climate out of this classroom, and that’s something that we need to continue to focus on.”
Pasternat said that “a lot of this is about teaching climate change to kids who are not climate scientists, because they’re not necessarily interested in science in general.”
But, he added, “We can make the climate change into an important part of education, and we can show them that it can be done safely and effectively.”