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Frosty view on climate lessons

Teaching of global warming in schools is flawed by simplification and misrepresentation, according to Richard Pike, the chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Dr Pike said that the real picture was not being made clear because of limited references to climate change in school textbooks.

"The problem needs to be addressed if the UK is to play a key role in tackling the issues raised and exploiting related business opportunities,"

he said.

"These deficiencies are partly the result of needing to give youngsters easily digested concepts, but many teachers now agree that in doing so there is the risk of losing sight of the bigger picture.

"Support from web-based organisations is making progress, but is fragmented and lacks engagement with leading academics and industrialists in the field."

Dr Pike believes that four key facts that children should know have been distorted or overlooked: that it is water vapour, not smoke, that emerges from cooling towers; that very low-sulphur fuels can be worse for the environment than higher-sulphur fuels; that oil and other fossil fuels may be burned for another century; that energy storage and transportation will be essential for long-term sustainability.

Dr Pike added: "Young people are clearly concerned about global warming and we have a collective responsibility to ensure that they are well-informed and feel confident in challenging the status quo for the benefit of us all."

* For more information, visit The Royal Society of Chemistry website at www.rsc.org

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