Home > Uncategorized > Heartland Institute’s Efforts to Sow Doubts Places Climate Change Instruction in Public Schools in Peril

Heartland Institute’s Efforts to Sow Doubts Places Climate Change Instruction in Public Schools in Peril

April 28, 2017

Yesterday’s NYTimes featured an op ed piece by Curt Stager, a professor of natural sciences at Paul Smith’s College in Upstate NY describing the full court press by the Heartland Institute to inject doubt in the minds of public school science teachers regarding the science behind climate change. He writes:

The Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank known for attacking climate science, has been mailing a slim, glossy book to public school teachers throughout the United States. The institute says it plans to send out as many as 200,000 copies, until virtually every science educator in America has one.

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.”

Stager describes the slick presentation of the materials, which were mailed “…in an envelope bearing the headline of a New York Times article about an investigation into Exxon Mobil for possibly lying about climate change”, in an effort to get climate change realists to read more. A self-professed late adopter to the position that man is the cause of changes in the climate, Stager notes with a hint of dismay that many science teachers are still open to the idea that there is not a consensus on the issue:

Unfortunately, many teachers seem unaware of this (consensus among scientists). A survey of 1,500 American science teachers published last year in the journal Science found 30 percent of those surveyed said they emphasized in their classes that recent global warming “is likely due to natural causes.” Less than half also correctly identified the degree of consensus among climate scientists that human activities are the primary cause of global warming.

They may therefore be vulnerable to suggestions that they should “teach the controversy” for the sake of balance, particularly in places like Tennessee and Louisiana, where state law permits the teaching of alternative interpretations of evolution and climate change in public schools. The Heartland Institute is now exploiting this opportunity to influence the next generation on a national scale.

Knowing Heartland’s funders and the power of ALEC, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that this outreach to teachers is matched by an outreach to school board members at all levels and/or potential candidates for school boards. I would not be surprised to see statehouses passing legislation mandating a “balanced approach” to climate change… nor would I be surprised to see local and State Boards of education passing policies that mandate “balance”.

And here’s what is especially frustrating: climate change realists don’t have the financial wherewithal to fight back against the climate change propagandists, who are underwritten by Big Oil… and the fight to teach the truth about climate change is especially difficult when the Executive Branch is populated with climate change deniers.

All of this means that unless grassroots activists push back, Heartland’s supporters will succeed in their effort to influence the next generation on a national scale… particularly given the sacrifices that will be necessary to address the impact of climate change.

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