Climate Denial Textbooks, Coming Soon to a Public School Near You

by Dartagnan – 

It’s bad enough that a hateful propaganda site like Breitbart News has its sordid tentacles entwined with the critical mental functions of the current White House occupant. It’s even worse when one of its featured columnists mates with a right-wing think tank to spawn poison aimed at our children in the public schools.

The Heartland Institute is a tool of major fossil fuel producers and the Koch Brothers network of polluters salivating to maximize their profits with a clueless, malleable dupe like Donald Trump in the White House and a compliant Congress eager to serve them. Heartland propaganda is at the core of the climate denial industry which still seeks to convince the American public that there is some type of “debate” among scientists about the science of climate change.

The latest well-funded salvo from this noxious organization comes in the form of a thin, glossy book, titled Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming”  that it has mailed, thus far, to 200,000 public school teachers and educators throughout the United States.

The book, “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming,” presents the false premise that the evidence for human-driven climate change is deeply flawed. To understand where the Heartland Institute is coming from, consider a recent comment by its president, Joseph Bast, who called global warming “another fake crisis” for Democrats “to hype to scare voters and raise campaign dollars.”

The purpose of the book is to dupe educators into spewing misinformation about climate change to their students, many of whom will be unsophisticated and unaware of the overwhelming scientific consensus about man-made greenhouse gas emissions. College professors are also being targeted with the book, which is wrapped in misleading packaging designed to prompt educators to open it with oblique references to more familiar publications such as the New York Times.

The cover letter inside, however, made the book’s premise clear. “Claims of a ‘scientific consensus’ ” on climate change, it read, “rest on two college student papers, the writings of a wacky Australian blogger, and a non-peer-reviewed essay by a socialist historian.” In fact, multiple surveys of the scientific literature show that well over 90 percent of published climate scientists have concluded that recent global warming is both real and mostly the result of human activity.

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As the Times article uncovering this bogus propaganda campaign points out, agreement of the scientific community on the reality of human-induced climate change and the dire future it portends for all of us is on the order of 97%.  In essence, this Koch-funded tome carries with it all the credibility of Dianetics and the veracity of the Protocols of The Elders of Zion.

The connection between the book and the Breitbart News network, formerly run by Steven Bannon, now Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff, is apparent from the opening page:

This latest edition contains a foreword by Marita Noon, described by the book as a columnist for Breitbart and executive director of Energy Makes America Great.

Ms. Noon introduces the book’s three authors as “highly regarded climate scientists.” Not quite true. Despite their academic credentials, none have the publication record of an accomplished expert in the field, though they may be lauded by the conservative media.

One might be tempted to scoff at this crass attempt to delude schoolchildren by peddling this garbage to their teachers, but the Kochs and their ilk don’t spend millions on an effort like this for nothing. 30% of our public school science teachers are so ignorant and uninformed that they regularly teach their children that global warming is occurring due to natural causes, according to a recent survey by Science magazine. There seems to be no shortage of dupes with teaching certificates willing to swallow the Koch’s lies, particularly if they come wrapped in a professional looking package. The article points out that at the very minimum, in some states like Louisiana and Texas where teaching “alternatives” to evolution is permitted, teachers may feel compelled to pass on the Heartland’s disinformation in the name of “balance.”

Even if a small amount of teachers use the tract, tens of thousands of students could be misled. But if enough of them grow up to vote Republican, listening only to Fox News and sneering at science, particularly the science of climate change, the corporate polluters’ goals will have been accomplished.

Brandie Freeman is a high school science teacher in Georgia. She is also a member of the Georgia Science Teacher’s Association Board of Directors, and helped rewrite Georgia’s science curriculum to incorporate climate change topics into Biology classes for Georgia public schools. Freeman received a copy of the Heartland’s text, and while she acknowledged most of her colleagues were likely to throw it straight into the recycling bin, she nevertheless believes the book presents a real danger to young minds:

“As soon as you just even open the door to your students that there is doubt among scientists – which there isn’t – then that allows them to have the seed planted that they can go to these climate-skeptic websites.”

Freeman painstakingly chronicled the book’s inaccuracies and posted them on her blog, The Sustainable Schoolteacher.

The Times article is all the more impactful as it is authored by Curt Stager, a self-acknowledged “former” climate skeptic and professor of Natural Sciences. Stager concludes:

The book is unscientific propaganda from authors with connections to the disinformation-machinery of the Heartland Institute. In a recent letter to his members, David L. Evans, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, said that “labeling propaganda as science does not make it so.” He called the institute’s mass mailing of the book an “unprecedented attack” on science education.

 

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos