TEC Students’ work may impact global policy on climate change
Students at Technology, Engineering, and Communications High School (TEC) got the attention of national policy advisors when they gave feedback on an important document about research into climate change.
Comments prepared by Dr. Michael Town’s class at TEC featured prominently in feedback on the policy document. Dr. Town was approached to review the document due to his work as a researcher in polar climate change prior to entering the teaching profession.
The students reviewed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Summary for Policy Makers, which brings together current research, and is used by decision-makers at local, regional, national, and international levels in business and government as they consider changes to policies related to climate change.
The students concluded that the report, as initially drafted, would not be understood by readers who are not experts in climate science. They cited the extensive use of technical scientific jargon, lack of clear explanation of climate science concepts, and graphs that were difficult to understand.
“The review had an impact in Washington, D.C.,” said Town. “The manager of the U.S. review committee said that our review was one of the top 5 or 10 out of the 3,000 comments submitted.”
The comments made by Dr. Town’s students were so important that the concepts are featured in the state’s feedback to the report authors. The feedback reads, in part, “As written, the SPM is not accessible to a policymaker or general population audience.”
“Being a small class of teenage high school students, reviewing the IPCC document was something I thought we could never pull off,” said TEC student Michelle. “And even when we did finish reviewing the document, I didn’t expect it to make any impact on the final report because of the number of different people from all over the world who also reviewed it. I was really surprised, but happy, we made it so far. This is definitely going on my resume.”
“I am so proud of the work my students did,” said Town. “They could have felt defeated by their initial inability to understand the document, but they persisted. The IPCC SPM will be more readable for everyone because of the efforts of these students.”
The research report will be published later in 2013 by IPCC, the same organization that shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore in 2007.