Three years ago when I was asked to help launch ACE as Executive Director, we were on the doorstep of a new administration, one determined to design the first real comprehensive policy that would put America on a more sustainable energy path. DC based environmental organizations were poised to pass comprehensive environmental education standards, and congress was considering federal climate change legislation. There was an optimistic air in Washington.
Fast-forward three and a half years – there is no energy legislation and there are no formal national standards. Despite valiant efforts and considerable investment, progress has been slow. The majority of media coverage continues to focus on political party divides and debates over what should be taught in schools, and the environment ranks last in our priorities.
If you’ve read the latest news, you might have noticed that climate science has replaced evolutionary biology as the debate of the day. Unfortunately, high schools are emerging as the next battleground for attacking consensus climate science. Recently, four states have introduced legislation that would require teaching climate skepticism in schools, and two states have introduced resolutions to deny the existence of climate change.
ACE restores my optimism despite the fray. ACE has made tangible progress bringing climate education into America’s classrooms. We’ve educated 1.2 million students through our award-winning programs and we’ve activated hundreds of thousands of youth to reduce their carbon impact in their personal lives, schools, communities, and civic lives. ACE is committed to results, and we’re on track to scale these achievements.
In this issue, you’ll learn how well ACE works. We are constantly looking at ways to best engage our constituency. With new partnerships with NOAA’s Climate Program and Surfrider Foundation, ACE is creating a series of short educational animations that explore the impact of climate change on our world’s oceans. Through a partnership with National Center for Science Education, we are developing more resources to support and connect teachers to the science behind climate change. With new hires in Kansas, Texas, North Carolina, and Nevada we are now bringing our programs to new and critical states.
My wife and I have three young children under the age of seven. My hope is that climate science will be learned in the classroom, not from the media as a divisive political issue. I want their experience to be about discovery, where people’s energy is no longer subsumed in the debate, but guided by the consensus science. I want their education to nurture the limitless potential of their ideas and innovation, and for this to be the minimum standard for all American students. I believe their generation will have the courage to take on this issue and lead us toward a more sustainable future, but first they need to be taught the science and be provided the opportunity to take part in the solution.
Until then, ACE will continue to educate, inspire, and activate our country’s emerging leaders. An often-used moniker at ACE is, ‘We Got This’, but we need your support to stay the course.