~ Increase or Improve Public Awareness, Education & Outreach Efforts

This strategy includes increasing and improving the links between climate science, management, conservation, and public awareness. Informal and formal education mechanisms (e.g., presentations, websites, fact sheets and brochures, school curriculums) can be used to support this strategy. Enabling managers and decision makers to incorporate climate adaptation into practice requires that the appropriate information be available in useable forms when needed. The broader public also needs to be engaged and made aware of the potential ways that climate change may affect the economy, natural resources, livelihoods, health, and well-being. Gaining public buy-in may also increase political and social capital to support climate adaptation action at local, regional, national, and international levels.



Ottawa National Forest held a climate change outreach event for staff and area high school and college students. The event included presentations from local experts on climate change and its current and expected impacts on northern Michigan forests, presentations on sustainable operations of buildings, and a facilitated group discussion between personnel and experts about managing the Ottawa National Forest under changing climate conditions.140



Climate Wisconsin is a website dedicated to telling local stories of climate change impacts around the state through multimedia formats. The stories provided (on Farming, Forestry, Extreme Heat, Shipping, Ice Fishing, Birkebeiner ski race, Sugaring, Phenology, Fly Fishing, and Adaptation and Mitigation) are supported and informed by research conducted by the WICCI. The site also hosts two interactive sections for users to view changes in temperature and ice cover. Both the stories and interactive pieces contain descriptive text and directives for teachers on how to apply the information provided in the classroom.141

The Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region: Starting a Public Discussion website hosts recordings, PowerPoint presentations, and summaries of eight seminars held in Wisconsin between March and September 2007 on climate change.142 The initiative was supported by Wisconsin Sea Grant, the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, and NOAA. In order to extend the utility of the series and continue the discussion, all of the seminars are provided for free on the website; in addition, a summary report and DVD of the series are available in the Wisconsin Sea Grant store.143 The Lake Superior Binational Forum also has a dedicated page on its website to raising climate change awareness that includes a three-part video series created by scientists at the Large Lakes Observatory on climate change and Lake Superior.144


Fact Sheets

Researchers at Michigan State University have developed a series of fact sheets (available in English and Spanish) on climate change and agriculture, which explain the basics of greenhouse gas emissions, how they are related to agriculture, how climate change will affect Michigan field crop agriculture, and what the industry can do about it. They also host trainings for communicating climate change in order to inspire people to adapt; organize in-service trainings for educators on water, climate change, and agriculture; and host workshops linking climate scientists to journalists.145



The Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, a watershed protection group based in Big Bay, Michigan, commissioned a report examining how regional climate change is likely to affect the mining industry, the environment, and humans in the Great Lakes region. Specifically, the report discusses problems that the Kennecott Eagle Mine, an underground nickel and copper mine, might face as a result of projected regional climate change impacts and recommends actions for protecting the environment and human health. The report was disseminated to local municipalities and federal and state representatives with the hope of influencing them to require Kennecott to revise its environmental protection plan to include climate change.146

The Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC) released a report that sought to educate Huron River communities and the public about the impacts of climate change on the region’s freshwater resources. The report included a discussion of the effects of climate change on Michigan, sections of the watershed, and fish populations, and described solutions to help increase the resilience of the watershed to climate impacts. This report has served as the impetus for the HRWC to create targeted climate change projects, such as Climate-Resilient Communities and Saving Water Saves Energy.147


Formal Education & Curricula

Ohio Sea Grant is updating existing lesson plans for middle and high schools to include climate change and its likely effects in the Great Lakes region. Specifically, they plan to update references to coupled climate-ocean models with regional projected changes; regional examples of specific changes already being documented; and science background references for further information. Products will be disseminated online and through national and state public presentations and meetings. Educators and teachers will also have opportunities to participate in short courses on regional climate change and impacts to coastal communities and ecosystems in order to increase awareness of regional climate issues.148

140 U.S. Forest Service

141 Climate Wisconsin

142 Gregg 2012: Enhancing Climate Change Education and Outreach for Wisconsin’s Coastal Communities

143 UW Aquatic Sciences Center

144 Lake Superior Binational Forum

145 Kershner 2012: Helping Michigan’s Farmers Understand and Adapt to the Impacts of Climate Change

146 Feifel, K. M. & Whittaker, E. (2012). Climate Change, the Great Lakes, and Mining [Case study on a project of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program (Last updated October 2012)

147 Gregg, R. M. (2012). Building Capacity for Climate-Resilient Communities and Water Conservation in the Huron River Watershed [Case study on a project of the Huron River Watershed Council]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program (Last updated October 2012)

148 Ohio Sea Grant