NY Times Tests Our Literacy on Climate Change

Last week I posted on the "Misunderstood Meanings of Science Literacy," noting that scientists, policymakers, and journalists tend to narrowly focus on the recall of facts about science as the most important dimension of knowledge. Usually this dimension of knowledge is tested in quiz like survey questions.

In the paper's monthly Education section, the NY Times provides just such an example, asking several scientists to provide questions for readers.

Yet why is the most important thing to know about climate change defined exclusively in terms of science? Why not ask experts who study the social, political, and policy dimensions of the debate to provide a similar set of questions tapping the public's knowledge of, for example, the trade offs between an emissions system and a carbon tax? Or Bush's position on the Kyoto treaty? Or the difference between mitigation and adaptation policies? Or the connection between energy policy and climate change? Or even the identification of the chief regulatory and political institutions charged with dealing with climate change nationally and internationally?

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