Climate Voices

January 20, 2023
By: Kristen Poppleton, Senior Director of Programs

Your voice is needed to support climate change education

Your voice is needed to support climate change education - Photo

The Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5) draft was recently released for public comment.

We’re concerned about the lack of mention of climate change education throughout the draft –– can you submit a comment calling for its inclusion? 

The NCA5 will analyze the global impact of climate change in the U.S. and serve as a report to catalyze science-based action by local and national actors. Just, inclusive, and well-funded climate change education provides students and the public with the knowledge, skills, and inspiration necessary for effective and equitable solutions to the climate crisis.

Did you know that in 1989 the Global Change Research Act was signed into law under President George Bush with the purpose of “assist[ing] the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change”? 

One of the requirements of the Act is the development of an assessment every four years that “analyzes the effects of global change on the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, human social systems, and biological diversity.” The NCA5 is a critical report for understanding climate change impacts globally as we activate solutions into the next decade and beyond. 


Follow these steps to review the draft report and submit your comments: 

  1. Register in the review and comment system. Once registered, read the draft report (labeled “NCA5 Third Order Draft: Public Review”). You can view or download the whole document or individual chapters. 
  2. When you’re ready, submit your responses either one at a time (by chapter, page, passage, etc.) or by downloading, completing, and uploading a response spreadsheet. (There are extensive directions for both options provided on the system.)

Although you should use your own words, there are three basic points developed by our partners at National Center for Science Education to bear in mind with regard to climate change education:

  • Climate change education is a critical component of any plan for responding to climate change, since future generations will face, and thus need to be equipped with the requisite knowledge and know how to cope with, the challenges of climate change.
  • While climate change education is important in both formal and informal learning environments, PreK to Gray, secondary science education in the public schools is particularly important, since a majority of Americans receive the bulk of their science education there.
  • The most effective way to improve the treatment of climate change in the public schools is to improve the treatment of climate change in the state science standards and ensure that teachers are prepared to teach in accordance with the improved standards.


If you agree that the report would benefit from the addition of a unit (whether a chapter, or a section of a chapter, or something else) devoted to discussing climate change education and outreach specifically, we encourage you to leave the suggestion as a comment on the whole document.

You may wish to make specific suggestions for including references to climate change education in the draft report. We want to make locating these sections as easy as possible –– check out below the primary sections to which references to climate change education could be added:

  • chapter 15, pp. 8-9: “Children and Adolescent Mental Health”
  • chapter 20, pp. 5-6: “How People Know and Think About Climate Change”
  • chapter 20, pp. 8-10: “Engaging Diverse Stakeholders is Possible”
  • chapters 21-30 which separately discuss different regions of the country — climate change education is explicitly discussed in ch. 26, pp. 31-32, so why not in the others?
  • chapter 31: pp. 3-8, “Introduction”
  • chapter 32: p. 3, “Introduction”

Different chapters of the NCA5 are written by different authors, so there’s no harm in repeating yourself in your comments: a degree of repetition seems inevitable for chapters 21-30, since every region of the country would benefit from improved climate change education.

Be aware that your comments will be attributed to you by name and released to the public, along with responses from the draft’s authors.


You can submit (and if necessary revise) your comments until 11:59 p.m. ET on January 27, 2023. We encourage you to advocate for the inclusion of climate change education in NCA5 and to recruit your friends and colleagues to do the same.

Kristen Poppleton

Kristen Iverson Poppleton is the Senior Director of Programs for Climate Generation. Climate Generation empowers individuals and communities to engage in solutions to climate change. Kristen develops a vision for and provides strategic coordination, oversight and support for all Climate Generation programs focusing on youth, educator and community engagement. Kristen holds a BA in Biology and Hispanic Studies from St. Olaf College, a MEd in Environmental Education from University of Minnesota, Duluth and a MS in Conservation Biology from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is a fourth generation St. Paulite, and in her spare time loves to be in the boreal forest with her husband, two children and Lab, canoeing, hiking, nordic skiing, or with her nose in a new novel.