WASHINGTON - MARCH 2:  Activists hold signs as they participate in the Power Shift '09 rally on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

WASHINGTON - MARCH 2: Activists hold signs as they participate in the Power Shift '09 rally on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

There’s an international consensus that man-made climate change exists. But are we preparing the next generation to combat it?

A new poll from NPR shows that 84% of parents and 86% of teachers think climate change should be taught in schools. And while learning standards in most states at least mention man-made climate change, only 42% of teachers actually cover the subject in their classrooms.

From the study:

[A]s millions of students around the globe participate in Earth Day events on Monday, our poll also found a disconnect. Although most states have classroom standards that at least mention human-caused climate change, most teachers aren’t actually talking about climate change in their classrooms. And fewer than half of parents have discussed the issue with their children.

When it comes to one of the biggest global problems, the default message from older generations to younger ones is silence.

Many members of younger generations are breaking that silence — like Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist behind an international movement of school strikes to address climate change.

What are we teaching kids about climate change? And what are they teaching us?

Show produced by Morgan Givens. Text by Kathryn Fink.


  • Leah Qusba Deputy director, Alliance for Climate Education; @lqusba
  • Ann Reid Executive director, National Center for Science and Education; @ncsereid
  • Daniel Morales-Doyle Assistant professor of Science Education Curriculum and Instruction, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • James "Jim" Sutter Teacher, advanced placement environmental science, Wellston High School

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