NOAA's Climate Teachers' Guide: 'Alarming Students' Causes Them to 'Succumb to Denial'

By Craig Bannister | October 28, 2014 | 4:10pm EDT
If educators scare students too much about the threat of climate change, they may "succumb to denial," a teachers' guide by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warns. In its guide, "Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness," NOAA presents seven "essential principles":
  1. Sun is primary energy
  2. Climate is complex
  3. Life affects climate; climate affects life
  4. Climate is variable
  5. Our understanding of climate
  6. Humans affect climate
  7. Climate change has consequences

Principle 7 - "Climate Change Will Have Consequences for the Earth System and Human Lives" - warns educators that scaring students can cause them to succumb to denial:

"Alarming students and the public about the impact of climate hazards, such as droughts and extreme events, can be counter-productive and cause people to ignore the warnings or succumb to denial."

Marc Morano, publisher of Climate Depot and producer of upcoming documentary 'Climate Hustle,' tells MRCTV the guide is making it sound like disagreement on climate change is a disease:

"Does our government now think that the greatest threat kids face is 'succumbing" to climate 'denial?!' They make it sound as bad as succumbing to Ebola.

Parents need to be very vigilant when it comes to their children's education about man-made global warming."

"Despair Deficit" is another challenge facing teachers trying to indoctrinate students about climate, the teachers' guide warns:

"However, just glossing over the severity of the impacts and the enormous social and environmental ramifications of climate change can lead to a society that is ill-prepared to deal with change. Finding a balanced approach and avoiding a 'despair deficit' is clearly a good practice, both inside and outside of the classroom."

The guide suggests some tactics for teachers to employ:

  • Drawing on case studies showing successful emissions reduction strategies.
  • Examining adaptation strategies for humans, plants and animals.
  • Creating an atmosphere of creativity and problem-solving as we all strive to meet this grand challenge.

It also recommends varying tactics based on the student's age. In middle school, for example, the guide suggests teachers focus on the plight of "polar bears and penguins." In high school, teachers should incorporate climate doctrine into "traditional courses" such as geography, biology and chemistry.

College professors should expose students to climate change theory via blogs, Google Earth, and climate websites, the guide says. And, "upper-level college students" should be put to work researching the impacts of climate change, it says.

Principle 6 - "Human Activities are Impacting the Climate System" - also warns that teaching climate threat theory "can result in denial' if not handled deftly:

"Quite simply, this principle is challenging to teach because some sectors of the public continue to debate whether these ideas can be true, despite the well-established science. There are several possible reasons why students may resist the conclusion that humans are altering the climate."

"This concept may be uncomfortable to students due to feelings of guilt, political resistance or genuine lack of scientific understanding. Furthermore, projections of the effects of climate change on our society can frighten, overwhelm, or discourage students. This can result in denial or resistance to learning. "

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