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Home » NOAA, Smithsonian and fed partners seeking suggestions to update key climate literacy guide

NOAA, Smithsonian and fed partners seeking suggestions to update key climate literacy guide

Suggestions and feedback are due by May 31, 2023

NOAA, as part of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), is requesting suggestions on structure, topics, and content to help update a key national climate literacy guide used by educators, policymakers, and scientists across the U.S. and internationally for more than a decade. 

“The climate literacy guide is an essential reference for communities across the country,” said Frank Niepold, NOAA senior climate education program manager. “Its strength emanates from the diversity of communities that contribute perspectives to it. We need a significant public response to ensure we create the best, most impactful update to the guide. We urge your feedback and input.”

The last climate literacy guide, “Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science,” was released in 2009. Eighteen federal agencies and departments, in partnership with many science and education organizations, produced it. The guide, available in English and Spanish, helped inform national education standards adopted or adapted by many states.

The 2009 guide’s purpose was to describe the fundamental knowledge and skills needed for climate literacy. The guide listed the key knowledge and skills as:   

  • understands the essential principles of Earth’s climate system
  • knows how to assess scientifically credible information about climate
  • communicates about climate and climate change in a meaningful way
  • is able to make informed and responsible decisions with regard to actions that may affect climate.

NOAA and the Smithsonian Institution are co-leads of the interagency federal team at USGCRP working to update the climate guide to reflect current climate science, engagement, workforce development, education methods, and include a focus on informed climate decisions. USGCRP seeks to create an updated guide that is broadly relevant and provides useful information to all people in the United States. The team is interested in personal narrative and experience; Indigenous Knowledge; local knowledge and lived experience; and technical, legal, and scientific content, or research from any discipline. 

“Climate literacy is inherently transdisciplinary and affects us on both a local and global scale,” said co-lead Carol O’Donnell, director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center and member of the InterAcademy Partnership Science Education Global Council. “The Smithsonian is pleased to collaborate with NOAA and other federal partners as we collect feedback from users of the Climate Literacy guide from across the nation and world.”

We are seeking feedback on the following questions:

  • How should the updated document be structured?
  • What topics should be included?
  • How should topics be weighted and ordered within the document?
  • Are there pieces that are missing from the 2009 guide?
  • Are there pieces of the 2009 Guide that aren’t relevant anymore?
  • What audiences do you think should use the guide?
  • How do you see yourself or your community using this guide?

How to submit comments, suggestions

Comments can be submitted electronically at until 11:59 PM ET on May 31, 2023. To submit comments, you will need to register and set up an account.

USGCRP will also be hosting a series of workshops and listening sessions to collect feedback throughout April and May 2023. Notice and registration information for these events will be added to

For more information, contact Monica Allen at or Haley Crim at

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