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Climate change courses for civil servants – BC sets another first

The following is a joint media release from the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) and the BC Minister of Environment Terry Lake about today’s launch of the Climate Insights 101 online short courses series on climate change available at www.pics.uvic.caPDF media release

The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) has today announced the launch of an innovative series of online climate change short courses for civil servants and British Columbians. Throwing the old-fashioned textbook approach out the window, “Climate Insights 101” uses a combination of animation, interviews and click-thrus to engage people on the basic concepts and findings of climate science research.

Today’s 10 a.m. official launch by Environment Minister Terry Lake at the Institute of Public Administration of Canada’s 63rd annual conference in Victoria sees the first of four planned modules in the series become available online at www.pics.uvic.ca. These courses, targeted for civil servants, are the first of their kind.

PICS Executive Director Dr. Tom Pedersen says the courses provide a vital bridge between the scientific community and BC’s 26,000 civil servants who help inform and shape the province’s policies and planning. “People who don’t work in science are often intimidated by it, so these courses will go a long way towards demystifying the physics of the climate change we are seeing. It makes traditionally tough subject matter accessible as well as entertaining.”

Lake says building a solid knowledge base within the province’s civil service is essential because climate change will impact not only the environment but also the economy, the way we live, how we use our land and water, and what our future agricultural options are. “BC is already a world leader in mitigating and preparing for climate change and these courses will help ensure we maintain that momentum.”

Module one, entitled “Climate Science Basics” consists of an introduction and four, 30-minute lessons on: CO2 and the greenhouse effect; climate change and Mother Nature’s influence; observable changes; and introduction to climate modelling.

A useful menu feature allows participants to click on specific subjects or questions, rather than having to go through the entire lesson from start to finish. Participants can also chose how in-depth they wish to go, having the option of an overview or a “learn more” function. Most lessons contain a “Clear the Air” segment that explores and corrects common misconceptions about climate change. These are on YouTube.

Module one’s content has been provided by climate change experts Pedersen and Dr. Francis Zwiers, director of UVic’s Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change contributor. Environment Canada and the BC Ministry of Environment have also provided input.

Pedersen says the courses have a strong BC context but the global scope of the science makes it relevant to a wide audience. “I anticipate that schools, media and general society, as well as the target audience of people working in local government or ministries, will find the series invaluable for clarifying what is too often seen as a difficult or complicated issue.” Module two (regional climate change and its impacts), module three (adaptation) and module four (mitigation) are currently in production and are planned for release next year by PICS.

PICS is hosted and led by the University of Victoria in collaboration with the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the University of Northern British Columbia.

Media contacts: Robyn Meyer (PICS Communications) at +1-250-588-4053 or rmeyer@uvic.ca

Suntanu Dalal (Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Environment) at +1-250 387-9745 or Suntanu.Dalal@gov.bc.ca

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