The Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank, is on a quest to deliver mailers to 200,000 teachers encouraging them to consider and teach explanations for global warming that reject humans’ role in a changing climate, Frontline reports.
The non-profit institute has mailed books and DVDs to more than 25,000 teachers so far, along with a letter that asks them to consider that the scientific consensus on climate change might not be “settled” and that students would best be served by learning about the debate over climate changes’ causes and potential impacts.
The materials include a book called Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming. The institute plans to reach out to an additional 25,000 teachers every two weeks and to ultimately send materials to every public school science teacher in the country.
The National Center for Science Education, an organization devoted to encouraging the teaching of climate change and evolution, called the Heartland Institute’s mailers an attempt to confuse teachers. “It’s not science, but it’s dressed up to look like science,” the NCSE’s executive director Ann Reid told Frontline.
In 2017, just how schools should talk about climate change is still contentious, despite a consensus among most climate scientists that human activity is extremely likely the cause. Several states adjusted the Next Generation Science Standards to avoid mention of human-caused climate change.
While standards guide the way teachers talk about any given subject, teachers in any given classroom exercise their own discretion on how to teach about a topic.
A study last year found that half of teachers taught that humans cause climate change, but that a third teach that it’s still being debated. In California, at least, textbooks also emphasize the debate over the causes of climate change, according to a separate study.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.