New Guide Aims to Improve Public Climate Literacy  

March 18, 2009

Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science.
Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science. (high and low resolution report)

High resolution still (Credit: NOAA)

A guide is now available to help individuals of all ages understand how climate influences them -- and how they influence climate. A product of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, it was compiled by an interagency group led by NOAA. 

“As climate policy is being discussed, it is very important for the citizens of our nation to have an appreciation for some of the fundamental aspects of climate and climate change,” said Tom Karl, director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., and lead for NOAA's climate services. “This guide is a first step for people who want to know more about the essential principles of our climate system, how to better discern scientifically credible information about climate, and how to identify problems related to understanding climate and climate change.”

Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science is available online at: and It is also being distributed to teachers attending the National Science Teachers Association meeting this week in New Orleans.

“There is so much misinformation about climate. We want to provide an easily readable document to help everyone make the most informed decisions,” said Karl. “Having one product endorsed by the nation’s top federal science agencies, as well as leading science centers and associations, makes this document an essential resource.”
The 13-page guide includes information on how people can help reduce climate change and its impacts. It also defines important terms and concepts used when talking about climate and approaches to adaptation and mitigation. For print copies of the guide, e-mail NOAA Outreach or call 301-713-1208.

NOAA, the National Science Teachers Association, and TERC, an educational non-profit organization, are working with education leaders to revise state standards using this framework. The materials also will provide the basis for educator resources and professional development.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.