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January 29, 2008

For More Information, Contact:
Hema Sareen Mohan (650) 688-6384


SACRAMENTO - The world’s warming climate is a prime concern of California’s elected officials, international diplomats, venture capitalists, and even Hollywood filmmakers.

“California’s students need to understand what’s happening and what’s causing it,” said State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), announcing that he has proposed his Senate Bill (SB) 908, which would require climate change to be included in California schools’ science curriculum and in textbooks for environmental education.  The bill is slated to be voted on by the State Senate tomorrow.  If passed, it will move next to the State Assembly.

“A rigorous program of science instruction has to be both current and relevant,” said Simitian, “and that certainly has to include climate change.”

No issue more dominates the environmental agenda today. California has been pressing the federal government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. International conferences are formulating global warming treaties. Venture capitalists are pouring billions into green technologies. And Hollywood is creating disaster scenarios.

“Global climate change is a complex environmental issue that will be facing society for a long time to come. Senator Simitian’s bill, SB 908, recognizes that our children are tomorrow’s leaders and gives them the education they need to make informed decisions,” said Melissa Hippard, Loma Prieta Chapter Director of the Sierra Club.

If the bill becomes law, climate change will be added to the list of topics—among them energy, water and wildlife conservation—that the state requires in the environmental part of the science curriculum. The change would occur at the next regularly scheduled update of curriculum standards. Textbook publishers follow the standards in deciding what to include in books eligible to be used in California schools.

“Today’s students have little opportunity to learn about environmental concepts and problem solving—areas where they urgently need to be equipped.  SB 908 is a high priority because it will give them the tools to become stewards of the environment,” said Dan Haifley, Executive Director of O’Neill Sea Odyssey and a member of the Santa Cruz County Commission on the Environment.

Simitian added, “Students need to be able to discern the facts among the doomsayers and the naysayers. Today’s students are tomorrow’s decision-makers. If they’re going to make the right decisions about climate change in the future, they need to understand the underlying science.”

This new effort blends Simitian’s interest in environmental and educational issues. He is the author of AB 1330, which established Californian’s Outdoor Environmental Education Program, and a co-author of AB 32, California’s landmark global warming bill.

For more information on SB 908, visit and click on the link for Legislation.