The Guardian (U.K.), Sept. 16, 2014
Texas has proposed re-writing school text books to incorporate passages denying the existence of climate change and promoting the discredited views of an ultra-conservative think tank.
The proposed text books – which come up for public hearing at the Texas state board of education on Tuesday – were already attracting criticism when it emerged that the science section had been altered to reflect the doctrine of the Heartland Institute, which has been funded by the Koch oil billionaires.
A report from the Texas Freedom Network and the National Centre for Science Education found a number of instances where the proposed texts rejected recognised science.
In the proposed 6th grade texts, students were introduced to global warming amid false claims that there was scientific disagreement about its causes.
“Scientists agree that Earth’s climate is changing. They do not agree on what is causing the change,” the passage reads.
It quotes two staffers at the Heartland Institute who are not scientists.
However, as the analysis noted, there is no scientific disagreement about the causes of climate change. The report said the entire section was misleading. “Scientists do not disagree about what is causing climate change, the vast majority (97%) of climate papers and actively publishing climatologists (again 97%) agree that human activity is responsible,” the report said.
The NCSE experts also took issue with the prominence given over to Heartland. The views of a fringe were given greater prominence than the findings from the thousands of scientists contributing to the United Nations' blockbuster IPCC reports on climate change on the opposite page.
Minda Berbeco of the NCSE said that the disinformation was a disservice to a new generation of Texans who will have to deal with climate change. “Climate change will be a key issue that future citizens of Texas will need to understand and confront, and they deserve social studies textbooks that reinforce good science and prepare them for the challenges ahead,” she said in a statement.
Kathy Miller, the president of the Texas Freedom Network, suggested that the proposed text books had been deliberately aligned with the political ideology of the rightwing Tea Party. A majority of Republicans in Congress deny the existence of global warming or oppose action on climate change.
The NCSE reviewers also found disinformation on climate change in the proposed 5th grade text books. The passage reads: “Some scientists say it is natural for Earth’s temperature to be higher for a few years. They predict we’ll have some cooler years and things will even out.”
But the centre said that was incorrect. “We are not aware of any currently publishing climatologists who are predicting a cooling trend where ‘things will even out.’”
The reviewers said the proposed 6th and 8th grade texts also contained false statements on the causes for the thinning of the ozone layer.