Climate Choices

by Scott London

At yesterday’s White House Science Fair, President Obama called on our current generation of students—those in elementary, middle and high schools today—to take up the grand challenges of our time, from forging new solutions to cancer to combatting climate change.

To advance the cause, he launched the Climate Education and Literacy Initiative, a program aimed at giving students the knowledge and skills they need “to develop and implement climate solutions.”

As part of that initiative, the White House is including Climate Choices, a new publication I helped to develop for the National Issues Forums (NIF) and the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE).

Climate Choices explores the advantages and disadvantages of multiple options for addressing climate change, from reducing carbon emissions to protecting our communities to accelerating innovation in the search for new solutions.

The guide will be used as a springboard for deliberative conversations across America over the next year—not only in schools, but also in communities, on college and university campuses, and online. The fact that the President singled it out as part of his initiative within weeks of its publication represents an exciting and promising start for the project.

I led the development of Climate Choices for NIF beginning in 2013, doing most of the initial research, issue framing, and writing of the manuscript. When the NAAEE came on board as a partner , we worked closely to develop a guide that would be useful and effective in classrooms and on campuses. The idea was to create a tool for having meaningful, robust, and deliberative conversations about how to tackle climate change.

Getting the science right was a key priority, and we received input from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and several other leading climate scientists. It made for a rigorous and time-consuming review process that delayed the production. We had hoped to have Climate Choices published in time for the Paris climate talks last December, but it simply wasn’t ready in time.

But today, with the guide finally published, the roll-out of a national conversation on climate change set to begin, and now the President’s inclusion of it as part of his climate education initiative, the timing seems rather auspicious after all.

For a copy of Climate Choices, or to find out how you can be part of the national conversation on climate change, go to NIF or the NAAEE’s Environmental Issues Forums page.


Climate change threats in the U.S. by region—from “Climate Choices”