This week, an article came out in the LA Times describing climate change education as the new "evolution debate" in schools, reporting that some states are considering new policies that would require teachers to "teach climate change denial as a valid scientific position."
ACE was founded to fill an enormous gap in our educational sciences curriculum around this very subject. Currently, there are no state or national science standards in public high schools that address teaching of the science of global warming, even though 98 percent of the world's climate scientists agree that humans are causing climate change, and the consequences could be extraordinary.
In 2009, ACE amassed a team of the best educators, communicators, and creative minds in the country to develop a 45-minute multimedia assembly presentation that explains basic climate science in a way that sticks with high school students. We take an issue that could be complex and ground students in the most current science, drawn from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). We felt young people deserved to know what nearly all climate scientists understand -- and we set out to help communicate their scientific conclusions to our nation's youth. In just 2 years, ACE has reached over 1 million students nationwide.
With that in mind, one might find the news in the LA Times article disheartening. However, at ACE, we see it as an opportunity.
Science is all about discovery. It's about learning how the world works, and why, and connecting empirical data to a better understanding of the world we live in. It's about questioning hypotheses and building conclusions. ACE believes that if students in our nation's schools have the opportunity to learn the conclusions of 98 percent of the world's leading climate scientists -- no matter what else they hear -- it will help to reverse the recent increase in public skepticism about global warming.
Moreover, the recent effort to force climate change denial into the classroom underscores the importance and power of youth, the foundation of ACE's program. The cornerstone of a successful program for ACE is an inspired, educated and motivated youth population.
Students may well hear about climate change denial. For its part, ACE will continue to work every day to ensure that students also have the opportunity to learn about climate science, based on the scientific consensus, from an ACE Educator. This gives students a chance to begin the process of discovery and understanding about science for themselves.
ACE also helps young people focus on solutions. In our first nationwide energy efficiency competition last fall, called "Biggest Loser: Energy," student-led teams at over 60 schools across the country competed to see which school could achieve the greatest energy savings over a 20-day period -- and the results were amazing. While climate change might be a hot topic of debate for some, few people will argue that saving schools money in challenging economic times is not a good thing.
In our first two years of operations, ACE has already reached over 1 million high school students nationwide. Our goal is to continue to expand our program -- we want to reach every high school student in America. Sure, there will be challenges along the way, but we believe in the passion, authenticity, and leadership of youth. This Millennial Generation is diverse and large -- in 2012, this generation will make up 25 percent of the electorate. 13,000 young Americans turn 18 every single day. This demographic is important, powerful, and deserves our attention.
We believe it is important to convey to students the consensus of the world's scientific community, not the dissenting views of a very small minority. Students will benefit from a basic understanding of what we believe will be the greatest challenge their generation will ever face.
Follow Rebecca Anderson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/climateed