Climate Denial Removed from Textbooks. More Work Needed.

November 16, 2014


Above, some clips from my investigation into the climate denying Heartland Institute, and their plan to “recapture” K thru 12 education for Creationism and Climate Denial.

Below, news item describing how the largest educational publisher in the world, Pearson Education, has removed climate denial from its textbooks.

National Journal:

Here’s how the revised Pearson fifth-grade social studies textbooks teaches global warming:

Burning fuels like gasoline releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, which occurs both naturally and through human activities, is called a greenhouse gas, because it traps heat. As the amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases increase, the Earth warms. Scientists warn that climate change, caused by this warming, will pose challenges to society.

Here’s what the earlier version said:

Burning oil to run cars also releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Some scientists believe that this carbon dioxide could lead to a slow heating of Earth’s overall climate. This temperature change is known as global warming or climate change. Scientists disagree about what is causing climate change.

When the proposed Texas textbooks were released in September, the National Center for Science Education heavily criticized the assertion that “scientists disagree about what is causing climate change.”

95 percent of climate scientists agree that human activity, including the burning of fossil fuels, is the primary driver of global warming. For the sake of comparison, that agreement is equivalent to the scientific consensus that smoking cigarettes is deadly.

Pressure came from a number of science advocacy groups for textbooks to change, ahead of an upcoming vote by the Texas Board of Education.

National Center for Science Education:

The distortions and bias in the proposed social studies textbook are troubling, said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund.

“In too many cases we’re seeing publishers shade and even distort facts to avoid angering politicians who vote on whether their textbooks get approved,” Miller said. “Texas kids deserve textbooks that are based on sound scholarship, not political biases.”

NCSE’s examination of the proposed textbooks noted a number of problematic passages dealing with the science of climate change. Among the problems:

* McGraw-Hill’s Grade 6 textbook for world cultures and geography equates factually inaccurate arguments from the Heartland Institute, a group funded by Big Tobacco and polluters, with information from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). IPCC is a highly regarded international science organization that won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

*A Pearson elementary school textbook tells students: “Scientists disagree about what is causing climate change.” In fact, the vast majority—97 percent—of actively publishing climatologists and climate science papers agree that humans bear the main responsibility.

* WorldView Software’s high school economics textbook includes an inaccurate and confusing section that misleadingly links tropical deforestation to the ozone hole.

These distortions of science raise concerns like those expressed in last year’s science textbook adoption, when more than 50 scientific and educational societies signed a letter to the Texas SBOE stating: “climate change should not be undermined in textbooks, whether by minimizing, misrepresenting, or misleadingly singling [it] out as controversial or in need of greater scrutiny than other topics are given.” That statement is available at: http://ncse.com/files/pub/evolution/states/2013_TX_SBOE_from_NCSE.pdf

NCSE and the TFN Education Fund are calling on publishers to revise the problematic passages to ensure that political bias doesn’t undermine the education of Texas students. On Tuesday the SBOE will hold its first public hearing on the new textbooks. The board will vote in November.

The Heartland Institute of course, is famous for defending not only climate denial, but the Tobacco Industry’s “right” to sell cigarettes to children with the “Joe Camel” campaign.  The video below makes the point at 4:14.

I’ve posted in the past as well about the Heartland Institute’s bootlicking appeals to the Tobacco Industry for funding, and their efforts to defend

Among the gems John has rediscovered, a 1999 love letter (and boot licking appeal for funding) from Heartland chairman Joe Bast to the Phillip Morris Tobacco company. This document is among the trove of materials released thru the tobacco lawsuits of the 90s, and is available in the Tobacco Legacy Library online – so there’s no way for Heartland to run from this further evidence of their dark history. It’s another key bit of evidence showing the tobacco funded roots of the climate denial industry.

The letter is from Bast to Roy Marden, a Phillip Morris executive, and member of the Heartland board. Marden had apparently invited Bast to solicit further funds from the tobacco giant.

Dear Roy:

Thank you for inviting me to request renewed general operating support for The Heartland Institute for 1999.1 note that Philip Morris contributed $5,000 last August (for a Gold Table at our annual benefit) and $25,000 in October (general operating support). It also has allowed you to serve on our Board of Directors, which has produced many positive results for the entire organization.

The letter goes on to extoll Heartland’s tireless efforts to assist the tobacco industry in their sale of death dealing, addictive substances to children and adults around the planet.

Because Heartland does many things that benefit Philip Morris’ bottom line, things that no other organization does, I hope you will consider boosting your general operating support this year to $30,000 and once again reserve a Gold Table for an additional $5,000.

We genuinely need your financialsupport. Maybe by the end of this letter you’ll agree that we merit even greater support; I certainly hope so!

Bast continues, enumerating various components of their disinformation campaign on behalf of tobacco.

Heartland has devoted considerable attention to defending tobacco (and other industries) from what I view as being an unjust campaign of public demonization and legal harassment. We’re an important voice defending smokers and their freedom to use a still-legal product.

The Heartlander, our monthly newsletter for members, has called attention to the dangerous legal precedents and discriminatory taxes that are part of the campaign against tobacco in cover essays appearing in the October, November, and June issues.

Recent and past Heartland publications on tobacco, including a Heartland Policy Study and several Perspectives, and the 21 documents on the subject available fromPoIicyFax, are all available on Heartland’s Web site. Particularly popular are two of my essays, titled “Five Lies About Tobacco” and “Joe Camel is Innocent.”

Finishing up, Bast waxes on about plans for an online “Smoker’s Lounge”, as a clearinghouse for anti-science disinformation promoting tobacco.

We are also revamping our Web site to bring together into one place all the material on tobacco — the policy study, op-eds, PoIicyFax documents, and Heartlander essays — and identify it as the “Smoker’s Lounge” on the homepage. And we have discussed producing an Instant Expert Guide to Tobacco Litigation and reproducing an analysis done of the effect of a federal lawsuit against the tobacco industry on the level of payments states can expect to receive. Both of these projects are likely to come about in the coming months (though the latter only if it is still timely).

The NCSE notes that another major publisher, McGraw-Hill, still has not removed false-balance passages from its textbooks.
Progress, but more work to be done.

 

15 Responses to “Climate Denial Removed from Textbooks. More Work Needed.”

  1. disperser Says:

    I think one of the problems is that two different issues have been rolled into one.

    One issue is climate change itself.

    The other is the economic impact of what to do about it.

    Yes, there is the lunatic fringe that still looks to god (be it an actual god or technology) to come in and save the day, but the bigger issue to my mind is that the people who will bear the cost of making massive changes are having to make the very real choice of looking at a significant degradation in their lives, both physical and economical.

    I know it’s the rational thing to do, but people are not rational (at least not that I’ve noticed).

    Personally, even with all that is being proposed, when I look at the numbers, I don’t see us getting ahead of the impact of the growing population.

    Meaning, even if we implement everything, we’re still physically adding energy requirements because we have more people. We can be more efficient and green all we want, but I see the larger issue being ignored.

    A I said elsewhere . . . just another 25 years, if I’m lucky enough to get that. Beyond that, I don’t care.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      there’s where you and I differ. Since I have children, I actually do care what happens more than 25 years from now.

      • disperser Says:

        My comment is only half jest . . . I do care because I know people I care about, and because I care about people in general.

        However, there is a level of frustration as well because people speak of solutions that concentrate on this or that thing.

        The problem, as I see it, is much larger than most people discuss. Not only political, social-economic, and technological, but you also have cultural and religious issues.

        And yes, as philip64 implies below, a journey of a thousand steps begins with one step, but if the journey is to the moon, and we’re talking about waking there, were not looking at it right way.

        You mention you have kids, so you care . . . I don’t have kids, so not only do I care, but I’ve already taken that first step.

        For that’s my point. No one I know of is even talking about stopping population growth (or controlling it).

        • John Scanlon Says:

          Population growth will, of course, stop by itself. One way or another.

          (I just spent a couple of hours, _again_, googling terms like human+population+”delayed reproduction”, and kinda have to agree that surprisingly few people are talking about the solution that stops population growth without treating reproduction as a crime. Eventually drilled down to some journal articles and reviews from the 1950s and ’60s, back when white men in suits unabashedly talked about ‘population control’, and won’t add anything else until I’ve read some more of them, including L.C. Cole (1965) Dynamics of animal population growth. J. Chronic Disease Vol. 18, pp. 1095-1108.)

        • disperser Says:

          Depends what you read . . . active control would involve some sort of government control, and that is never going to go well (not in ancient history, and not in recent history – more interesting reading can be had with China’s mandatory child restrictions, and Indian’s obsession with wanting males and their imbalance in genders).

          But, give women more rights, raise income levels, education, and give them control of their reproductive cycles, and I think you would start to see a change (another interesting reading is with countries whose native population has a birth rate too low to maintain the population).

          I think it’s too late, even if we started now, for that approach . . . we’re looking to war and diseases and disasters (be they man-made, man-triggered, or natural).

          I think a good-sized meteor might do it, or so we think it has done in the past.

          Otherwise, I think we are no better than any other animal . . . too ignorant (or stupid) not to breed ourselves into oblivion.

    • philip64 Says:

      Compared to the upheavals that have taken place over the past 100 years (and beyond), adjusting our power generation to low carbon is no serious upheaval at all, certainly not in the developed world. It brings real, accountable and measurable benefits in terms of better public health, reduced price volatility and improved security, even before you factor in climate change, ocean acidification and all the costs associated with that. The cost becomes truly significant only when it becomes necessary to move at break-neck speed. It’s a little like paying into a pension: the longer you leave it to make your contributions, the bigger those contributions will need to be.

      As for 25 years, if our leaders couldn’t even think that far, we would need to find some that could. As Margaret Thatcher once said: “Anyone who thought like that would never plant a tree.”

      • ubrew12 Says:

        “adjusting… is no serious upheaval at all” Not technically. But, politically, it seems to be more than we can muster, and that’s horribly troubling for what it says about human nature.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Yep, it’s such a large and complex problem, and so much of a Catch-22, that’s it’s tempting to say “…..just another 25 years, if I’m lucky enough to get that. Beyond that, I don’t care”.

      I suspect you DO care, or you ought to, because the last 10 years of that 25 may seem to be rather “unlucky” and apocalyptic if NOBODY cares.


  2. This is a reply to : “Jeffery LeMieux commented on Carl Sagan on Global Warming.”
    I am unable to post to that old post.

    Talk about cherry picking!
    What about the sentence or paragraph before?

    “The principal energy sources of our present industrial civilization are the so- called fossil fuels. We burn wood and oil, coal and natural gas, and, in the process, release waste gases, principally CO 2 , into the air. Consequently, the carbon dioxide content of the Earth’s atmosphere is increasing dramatically. The possibility of a runaway greenhouse effect suggests that we have to be careful: Even a one- or two- degree rise in the global temperature can have catastrophic consequences. In the burning of coal and oil and gasoline, we are also putting sulfuric acid into the atmosphere. Like Venus, our stratosphere even now has a substantial mist of tiny sulfuric acid droplets. Our major cities are polluted with noxious molecules. We do not understand the long- term effects of our course of action. But we have also been perturbing the climate in the opposite……”

  3. andrewfez Says:

    Something that might be worth following, as the corporate media probably ain’t gonna:

    http://fusion.net/story/26335/car-bomb-house-explosion-rock-solar-energy-campaign-in-louisiana/

    The home and two cars of a campaign finance director for a pro-solar energy candidate running for Louisiana’s utility regulatory board were blown up Thursday.

    No one was injured in the explosions, and authorities have yet to established a direct link between the apparent attacks and the campaign’s efforts to promote solar energy, according to local station WWL.

    But the ATF is assisting in the investigation of the incidents, according to NOLA.com. The finance director targeted, Mario Zervigon, a well known political operative in the state, is taking a break from campaigning for candidate Forest Bradley-Wright.

    Bradley-Wright is campaigning on a program that allows Louisiana solar-panel users to continue to sell their excess electricity to utility companies. He is facing incumbent Eric Skrmetta, who seeks a cap on how much electricity solar customers can sell. They are competing in a run-off election for a seat on Louisiana’s Public Service Commission, which sets electricity rates in the state. Bradley-Wright has received most of his campaign funds from the solar industry, according to WWL.

    Skrmetta quickly distanced himself from the apparent attack and expressed his solidarity with his opponent’s campaign.

    The run-off vote will take place Dec. 6.


  4. I don’t have kids myself, but I do care about what happens to the next generation. I have a lot of nephews and nieces in the age 15-25 range. I’d like to think that they’ll have a future better than scrounging for survival in the ruins of civilization.

    When reminds me – amid all the euphoria over the US-China emissions reduction agreement (which wasn’t really an official agreement), I thought I’d throw this into the mix:

    http://chinamatters.blogspot.tw/2014/11/requiem-for-kyoto.html

  5. fletch92131 Says:

    Greenman,
    I think you have to do better than that, as trying to portray Heartland Institute as some form of mind control agent, is far from the mark. By the way, Heartland is probably trying to balance-out the dialogue, from when the environmentalists took charge of the it and distributed it widespread from kindergarten through 12th grade and beyond, “Climate Coup: Global Warmings Invasion of Our Government and Our Lives”. Here’s editor Patrick Michaels at the Cato Institute discussing this book .

    Greenman, I think the problem is that the IPCC was incorrectly formed to begin with. Instead of demanding that the body investigate all factors regarding climate change, they were charged specifically with investigating man’s influence on climate, as described here , here . Questions regarding the integrity of the IPCC methods were raised here and here . A pretty damning assessment of the IPCC follows: “The IPCC is a disgrace to science. In its desire to fit the square peg of science into the round hole of politics it has abandoned the “scientific method” and replaced it with a desperate search for data and other material that might support a specific hypothesis”, from We have been conned Rev2 . Finally, many observers of the IPCC say that it should be disbanded entirely, here ,here, , and here .This may be the reason that climate change has ranked the lowest of all 15 issues on the Gallup Survey of most important things to be addressed.
    .

  6. fletch92131 Says:

    Greenman,
    I think you have to do better than that, as trying to portray Heartland Institute as some form of mind control agent, is far from the mark. By the way, Heartland is probably trying to balance-out the dialogue, from when the environmentalists took charge of the it and distributed it widespread from kindergarten through 12th grade and beyond, “Climate Coup: Global Warmings Invasion of Our Government and Our Lives”, http://amzn.to/XCfpSZ. Here’s editor Patrick Michaels at the Cato Institute , http://bit.ly/1BGb36E.

    Greenman, I think the problem is that the IPCC was incorrectly formed to begin with. Instead of demanding that the body investigate all factors regarding climate change, they were charged specifically with investigating man’s influence on climate, as described here, http://bit.ly/1qh8dAx , here, http://bit.ly/1t5WHlO . Questions regarding the integrity of the IPCC methods were raised here, http://bit.ly/1xJXnTf and here, http://bit.ly/1xJPNb4. A pretty damning assessment of the IPCC follows: “The IPCC is a disgrace to science. In its desire to fit the square peg of science into the round hole of politics it has abandoned the “scientific method” and replaced it with a desperate search for data and other material that might support a specific hypothesis”, from “We have been conned Rev2” ,http://bit.ly/1uB2rJQ. Finally, many observers of the IPCC say that it should be disbanded entirely, here,http://bit.ly/1ETwLk9, here, http://bit.ly/1t1JvzA, and here, http://onforb.es/11oGBNM .This abuse of the scientific principle may be the reason that climate change has ranked next-to-last of all 15 issues on the Gallup Survey of most important things to be addressed, and possibly why the United States Senate was lost to Republicans in the 2014 midterms.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      they’re not mind control agents, they are merely pseudo intellectual thugs for hire. Tobacco paid the freight in the 90,s, now its fossil fuels.
      That Jack Schmitt, who is a geologist, advocates teaching children that the world is 5000 years old, (as long as he can slip in his climate denial), and that Joe Bast would write that cigarettes are harmless, and become a prime defender of Joe Camel, tells you all you need to know.

  7. dumboldguy Says:

    BWA-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!
    (Insert here, here, here, and here, as well as here and here in fletch’s comments).

    We have got ourselves a winner here, folks. A real square peg of mindless parroting into the round hole of intelligent discourse on Crock.


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