Climate change is occurring, is very likely caused by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems. Each additional ton of greenhouse gases emitted commits us to further change and greater risks. In the judgment of the Committee on America's Climate Choices, the environmental, economic, and humanitarian risks of climate change indicate a pressing need for substantial action to limit the magnitude of climate change and to prepare to adapt to its impacts. A principal message from the recent National Research Council report, America's Climate Choices, this brief summary of how climate change will shape many aspects of life in the foreseeable future emphasizes the vital importance of preparation for these changes.
The public's limited understanding of climate change is partly the result of four critical challenges that have slowed development and delivery of effective climate change education. As one response to these challenges, Congress, in its 2009 and 2010 appropriation process, requested that the National Science Foundation (NSF) create a program in climate change education to provide funding to external grantees to improve climate change education in the United States. To support and strengthen these education initiatives, the Board on Science Education of the National Research Council (NRC) created the Climate Change Education Roundtable.
This report is a summary of the discussions and presentations from the first workshop, held October 21 and 22, 2010, and focuses on two primary topics: public understanding and decision maker support. It should be viewed as an initial step in examining the research on climate change and applying it in specific policy circumstances.