A nationally coordinated effort is needed to assess the state of formal and informal climate change education and communication in the United States, identify knowledge gaps and opportunities, and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of different national organizational structures and approaches to promote climate change education and communication. This requires coordination between relevant organizations involved in education and increased federal funding for research on education and communication.
The federal government should establish a national task force that includes formal and informal educators, government agencies, policy makers, business leaders, and scientists, among others, to set national goals and objectives and to develop a coordinated strategy to improve climate change education and communication.
The informational needs of American society to respond to climate change range from basic awareness and understanding of the problem itself to highly technical information used only by specialists in specific fields. Communicators at all levels of government and across all sectors of society will thus need to provide a wide range of different information types for different audiences, from individual households to the nation as a whole. When information is tailored to user needs, communicated clearly, and accompanied by decision support tools that enable the exploration of alternatives and encourage flexible responses, decision makers can develop more informed, credible, and effective responses to climate change. The federal government can and should play a leading role in setting national goals, objectives, and strategies and coordinating effective information systems to support America’s climate choices.