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Canada’s high school students not getting full picture of climate change: study

Last Updated Jul 18, 2019 at 6:43 pm PDT

A global warming sign. GETTY IMAGES

The UBC study compares textbooks and teaching materials from Canada's 13 provinces and territories

B.C. ranked ninth but the study's author is hopeful that curriculum changes in 2019/2020 will bring that ranking up

Author says provincial and territorial curricula cover the basics but need to focus more on impacts and solutions

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — High school students across Canada are getting inconsistent and often outdated information about climate change, according to a new study.

The UBC study compares textbooks and teaching materials from Canada’s 13 provinces and territories.

Lead author Seth Wynes says while provincial and territorial curricula cover the basics, they need to focus more on impacts and solutions.

“Climate change is definitely caused by people, it’s bad for humans everywhere but there are solutions and we can fix it,” he says. “Focusing on communicating those things is really important. Part of the struggle is that curriculum documents are created and then left for years, and the science of climate change updates so quickly.”

B.C. was ranked ninth, but Wynes says changes coming to the curriculum in the 2019/2020 school year are promising.

Saskatchewan was ranked first. Wynes says part of what made the province stand out was the fact that their materials featured a thorough discussion of climate change in courses that all students are required to take.

“Because climate change is already such an important issue, and one that’s going to continue affecting these students futures more and more, it’s important that students be able to engage as good citizens and have the proper understanding on this topic. Covering it in a mandatory course is an important thing.”

Wynes adds that it’s important that curricula don’t stray from facts that have been proven by scientists, which some provinces may have inadvertently done by not updating their materials.

The study is called Climate science curricula in Canadian secondary schools focus on human warming, not scientific consensus, impacts or solutions.