Leading article: Today's lesson

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The Independent Online

For the first time, the science of global warming and sustainable development is to make its way on to the national curriculum in secondary schools. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, which advises the Government on what should be on the curriculum, proposes that climate change should be taught as part of geography lessons, which are compulsory up to age 14. And the Education Secretary, Alan Johnson, today throws his weight behind the idea, ensuring that it will actually happen.

This is not before time. Last week Richard Pike, the chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, described that what teaching of the subject there is at present as dogged by "omission, simplification and misrepresentation". But teachers should not take all the responsibility for this. Many school textbooks are so out of date that they refer to climate change as a new theory which has yet to be proved or disproved. As the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will demonstrate today, there is little doubt in the scientific community now that climate change is a man-made and urgent problem.

There is a clear appetite for such lessons among students. A poll last year of 8- to 14 year-olds last year by Friends of the Earth found that young people are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of climate change.

We should not be surprised by this. After all, climate change seems set to ravage the world they will inherit. School children at least have a right to be told why - and to learn what the world must do to avert disaster.