Poisoning the Minds of Children: Climate Denial Book Sent to Schools

BY ON April 10, 2017

Climate denial book sent to teachers

Fake news is a phenomenon of “alternative facts” that’s been sweeping the news. It continues to challenge our nation with divisive diversions.

But what about fake science? (Tweet this)

According to the Washington Post, a fake science book aimed at our children, titled “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming” has been delivered to 25,000 science teachers. Another 175,000 books will be sent in the coming weeks, and that will continue until every science teacher in the country has a copy.

This is worth repeating…

Every science teacher, across America will receive a “free” copy of a book of climate lies.

The cover seems pretty harmless, right? It has the look of a trustworthy, fact filled, well-researched textbook.

But wait. Do scientists disagree about climate change? No. There is a consensus of 97% of scientists that human-made climate change is real and that these climatic changes are warming our planet and already causing widespread health and environmental impacts.

Just this week, a new report from the American Psychological association links climate change with lung and heart disease, malnutrition and increased risk for asthma and insect-borne diseases such as Zika. This report also adds the psychological effects of human suffering caused by climate change in regards to extreme weather such as flooding and hurricanes.

How would a book that lies about science get into the classrooms of our nation’s teachers?

The Heartland Institute produced the book. This group is a well-known organization funded by the Koch brothers, among other climate deniers. According to FRONTLINE:

“The Heartland initiative dismisses multiple studies showing scientists are in near unanimous agreement that humans are changing the climate. Even if human activity is contributing to climate change, the book argues, it “would probably not be harmful, because many areas of the world would benefit from or adjust to climate change.”

In the introduction, the book tosses climate change aside because “we have Isis beheading people.” This is a classic technique employed by disinformation campaigns  – ignore the issue or question at hand, and raise a different issue to distract from the original one.

The Washington Post article mentions Heartland’s CEO Joe Bast as saying that no one has contacted them for “expert” opinions in the last 8-12 years, until now, with the new Trump administration.

With a climate denier in the White House, “alternative science” – delivered by The Heartland Institute – aims to unravel years of environmental and public health policy.

The book ends with this:

“As this summary makes apparent, there is no survey or study that supports the claim of a scientific consensus that global warming is both man-made and a problem, and ample evidence to the contrary. There is no scientific consensus on global warming.”

What leads to this inaccurate conclusion? Two references.

Now, as someone who has just written a university dissertation with 12 pages of references, all of which were carefully selected over months of reading and study, I strongly question the validity of their sources.

The first reference leads to BBC news. But that takes you to the Heartland website, where the link is broken.

The second reference is from British journalist, Mike Hume, who writes about climate change as a social and cultural issue, and the complexity of its social history.

The book essentially has one reference, and that reference is light on scientific data or information.

Here’s where things get even messier…

I am an educator and I work with teachers. And I know that teachers are short on time, and in a high need of resources. New teachers, teachers who live in states with climate denying legislators, could use this book and present it as fact. And we know students are vulnerable to fake news that appears to be valid – they have difficulty discerning fake news from credible news sources. This is not their fault – they are children and are just learning the skills necessary to determine if information is credible.

What will children learn from a book that’s not based on scientific facts or consensus? What will children learn from a book that’s published by a climate-denying group with a budget of 5.3 million dollars?

Unless they have been taught to recognize fact from fiction, our schoolchildren will be misinformed, and may perpetuate the lies in this book.

And that is a huge problem for our democracy.

When this article posted on our Moms Clean Air Force Facebook page, there was collective outrage. Teachers shared photos of receiving the package from the Heartland Institute. Many returned the package with strong words of their own. One teacher said:

“So the question is, who do you want influencing your child’s education? Multi-million-dollar anti-science lobby and propaganda groups, or local school boards, states, teachers, parents, communities, and the scientific community?

Exactly. Parents, we must stay vigilant. We are our children’s first teachers, and we must demand that fake science has no place in the hearts and minds of our children.

Photo: Brenna Verre, FRONTLINE



TOPICS: Climate Change, Schools, Science