Proposed Texas Textbooks Get the Facts Wrong on Climate Change, Promote Denialism

When it comes to Texas textbook adoptions, attacks on science seem to be almost an annual affair now. So with the State Board of Education considering new social studies textbooks for Texas public schools this fall, we asked the National Center for Science Education to check what those texts say about climate change. The news is troubling. One textbook goes so far as to equate arguments from a polluter-funded political advocacy group with real facts from an international science organization that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Check out (below) our joint press release with NCSE.

Then click here to sign our petition and send a message to textbook publishers: take climate change denialism out of textbooks. Here’s the press release we just sent out:

An examination of how proposed social studies textbooks for Texas public schools address climate change reveals distortions and bias that misrepresent the broad scientific consensus on the phenomenon.

Climate education specialists at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) examined the proposed textbooks, which publishers submitted for consideration by the State Board of Education (SBOE) in April. NCSE identified a number of errors as well as an exercise that absurdly equates a political advocacy group with a leading international science organization.

“The scientific debate over whether climate change is happening and who is responsible has been over for years, and the science textbooks Texas adopted last year make that clear,” explained Dr. Minda Berbeco, a programs and policy director at NCSE. “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.”

NCSE’s analysis is available here.

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 to attack inconvenient scientific evidence, 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 here.

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.

Last week the TFN Education Fund released a series of reports from scholars who have detailed other serious concerns about the proposed textbooks. An executive summary and those reports are available here.

Don’t forget to sign our petition and send a message to textbook publishers: take climate change denialism out of textbooks.

3 thoughts on “Proposed Texas Textbooks Get the Facts Wrong on Climate Change, Promote Denialism

  1. Putting TFN in the same category with the Nobel Prize is perfect. Both are totally and completely “without bias” and have “100% credibility”.

    1. http://dels.nas.edu/resources/static-assets/exec-office-other/climate-change-full.pdf
      https://royalsociety.org/policy/projects/climate-evidence-causes
      Human activities—especially the burning of fossil fuels since the start of the Industrial Revolution—have increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations by about 40%, with more than half the increase occurring since 1970. Since 1900, the global average surface temperature has increased by about 0.8 °C (1.4 °F). This has been accompanied by warming of the ocean, a rise in sea level, a strong decline in Arctic sea ice, and many other associated climate effects. Much of this warming has occurred in the last four decades. Detailed analyses have shown that the warming during this period is mainly a result of the increased concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

      Nearly every professional organization of scientists (e.g., WMO, AQA, AGU, AMS, IEEE, http://www.opr.ca.gov/s_listoforganizations.php) has taken the position of accepting the findings of the IPCC, as have numerous large corporations (http://www.us-cap.org; http://www.c2es.org/companies_leading_the_way_belc#BELC-principles). A very few such organizations have stated that there is not sufficient information to be certain, but none has stated the position is erroneous.

      Some political organizations have asserted that the findings of the IPCC fraudulent or a hoax. Most fraudulent incidents associated with climate change have been promulgated by the “climate skeptics”, many of whom denied the tobacco/cancer link, the CFC/ozone_hole link, and the utility emmissions/acid rain link. On major fraud was “The Oregon Petition”, see (http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=s04201998) in which climate change skeptics published deliberately misleading information.

  2. Jim. You and I are both Christians. I have not followed the climate change issue all that closely. However, I did do some minor research one day and found out that many of those few scientists who are opposed to the whole idea of man-induced climate change are Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals. From what I read, it was clear to me that their objections were more theological than scientific, but there was no discussion whatsoever (not even one word) about WHAT those theological objections are SPECIFICALLY. I guess the framing is something like this:

    “The Bible says (x), therefore, the whole idea of man-induced climate changes is untenable because it goes against scripture.

    Can you explain to me what these theological objections are? This question is on the level—not a set-up for a personal attack on you.

    Thanks!!!

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