Texas Textbook Reviews and Climate Change

All of us at the Texas Freedom Network are grateful for our friends at the National Center for Science Education. NCSE has been a fantastic partner in our battles at the State Board of Education, including the current debate over proposed new science textbooks for Texas public schools. Josh Rosenau, NCSE’s programs and policy director, has been posting on NCSE’s blog about some of the worst objections of anti-evolution activists serving as official reviewers examining new biology textbooks publishers have submitted for adoption in Texas. We cross-posted one of Josh’s analyses here. Here’s another.

As I mentioned before (and as discussed in the TFN/NCSE press release), evolution was the main focus of denialist comments in the Texas textbook reviews. But given a chance, the creationists were happy to attack climate science, too.

Climate change isn’t part of the biology standards in Texas (unfortunately), so science-denying reviewers had to work a bit to find a way to attack climate change. One reviewer in particular, Ray Bohlin, a fellow with the Discovery Institute and vice-president of the anti-evolution Probe Ministries, focused on a climate change case study in the best-selling Pearson/Prentice-Hall biology textbook. The four-page discussion covers the physical causes of climate change, its impacts on biological systems and the oceans and atmosphere, and discusses what can be done to limit climate change. For the space available, it’s a thorough and thoughtful discussion that gives students the information they’ll will need in order to be scientifically literate citizens of the 21st century.

Bohlin objects to the passage in several places (all typographic errors are from Bohlin’s review):

Question 8 is quite controversial. The connection between carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning is not as firm as it once was since Carbon dioxide continues to increase but there has been no global warming for 16 years. I would delete the question.

Case Study #3 on Climate Change needs extensive revision. The temperature graph in Figure 6-30 wrongly indicates that temperatures have continued to rise. It is well recognized that global temps have stalled for the last 16 years. This graph does not indicate that. … Additional problems can be found in the CO2 graph on page 178. One axis uses ppm and the other uses ppb. This discrepancy will be asily lost on many HS students and therefore will lead to misinterpretations of the graph. No mention is made of the benefit to plants of higher CO2 concentrations. There is jjst so much wrong with this case study.

The Climate Change case Study fails on manny counts. First we don’t really know that the carbon Cycle has been altered. CO2 is being returned to the atmosphere that was sequestered in fossil fuels in earlier times. CO2 levels have been much higher in the past and life survived just fine. Plants always grow better with higher CO2 levels.The earth has not warmed now for 16 years and the sun spot cycle is approaching a long minimum that willreduce temperatures. The authors have failed to evaluate and critique the climate models and data for this phenomenon.

The question focuses on climate change. In reality we don’t know what climate change will do to species diversity. Some biomes may show a decrease in biodiversity while others may increase. Question seems to imply that ecosystems will be disrupted which qwe simply don’t know yet.

Essentially each sentence in these criticisms is wrong or misleading.

Read the rest of Josh’s post here.

3 thoughts on “Texas Textbook Reviews and Climate Change

  1. It is so easy to criticize anything Ray Bohlin writes since he literally doesn’t know anything about the topics he writes about. Bohlin’s own thinking is so confused that one can never know whether he really is that ignorant or is simply willing to make things up. I assume everyone knows that Bohlin’s statements about (1) the connection between burning fossil fuels and carbon dioxide and (2) global temperatures not increasing over the last 16 years are absolute nonsense–crazy talk really. He only gets away with this garbage because the small numbers of individuals he is trying to convince to make changes to science instructional materials–radical sectarian right-wing Republicans on the SBOE and top officials with one of Rick Perry’s captured agencies–know as little or less than he does, and they are the decision makers! No wonder the state’s education system is broken.

    1. Well said, Steve! The “business” or “coaching” or “military” model used in so many Texas public schools right now increases the probability that nonsense from the SBOE and “Perry-captured” State government agencies will make it into our children’s classrooms. Science teachers, even if behaving professionally and knowing better than to teach the nonsense, are bullied into betraying the integrity of their subjects, some even fearful of their jobs if they do not “toe the line” from Austin and line up with the “expectations” of district administrators who want all their teachers “on board” with what Austin wants.

  2. Sad state of affairs when business and religious interests trump sound educational policy. We have seen far to much of this type of behavior influencing the direction or more accurately put the misdirection of our state. The business and religious interests have bought and paid for the present crop of republicans in the state of Texas. I was under the assumption that it was the people of our state who elected these individuals and to whom legislators owe their allegiance. That is not happening today. Please vote like your life and the lives of your family depend on it – for it truly does.