Friday, September 30, 2016

Kids are Being Denied a Science Based Climate Education

US schools are not teaching kids accurate information about climate change. Climate ignorance is a serious issue that has thwarted climate action at every turn. Understanding climate change is crucial to making informed decisions at the ballot box. For many American adults, it may already be too late as some are deeply entrenched in denial. While it may be hard to enlighten an ill-informed electorate, children tend to be far more receptive to the facts.

Children are the best hope we have for responsible environmental stewardship. However, we cannot expect our kids to exhibit ecological mindfulness if they don't have a clear understanding of the evidence. Simply put, if we do not teach them the facts we cannot expect them to act.

If children receive a fact-based education they will grow up to be informed adults who will help change our perilous trajectory by demanding that we make climate action a national priority. A well-informed electorate will not stand for the lies that pass as balance. They will not allow partisan interests to muddy the waters of science.

They need to understand that climate change is real and caused by human activity. They also need to overcome the economic objections of some of their parents. This means they must understand that it will cost far less to address the crisis proactively than it will to manage the costs of a world ravaged by unchecked climate change.

Kids can change our perilous trajectory if they know the facts. Sadly we are not giving them the facts they need to engage the crisis we face.

Almost half of American adults think that climate change is not caused by human activity. This is a travesty. For some opposition to climate action has become a fanatical crusade similar to the defense of creationism.

Although it is not a panacea, many of the world's problems can be ameliorated by an educated electorate with a basic understanding of science.

Exposing kids to nature offers hope for an eco-centric future. Similarly, we have reason to believe that a sound climate education will help motivate them to act on the threat of climate change.

Both teachers and students are not aware of the scientific consensus on climate change. There are very few academics in the field who doubt the veracity of climate change. Knowing that the problem exists will also unleash innovation that will add to the range of existing solutions. First and foremost, we need to appreciate that we will not succeed in managing the climate crisis unless we wean ourselves off of fossil fuels. This is the reason why the fossil fuel industry has devoted significant resources to suppress climate science.

As reviewed in a study published in Sciencemag.org, US science teachers have an insufficient grasp of the science and this may hinder effective teaching. Some of these teachers even share unscientific commentaries from deniers alongside the facts.

This study reveals that almost one-third (30 percent) of science teachers misinform their students in middle school or high school. Almost three out of ten teachers erroneously tell students that the current observed trends in global climate change are natural phenomenon. Another 12 percent omit to attribute climate change to human activity. In addition to sometimes teaching inaccurate information, teachers are only devoting one or two hours to teaching climate change.

Part of the problem is ignorance, many teachers are unaware of the facts about climate change, a few even claim that they don't believe in the veracity of climate change. Others claim that they feel pressured to teach both sides (as if there was another side to the science of climate change). Less than one-third of teachers appear to be adequately informed about the anthropogenic origins of the climate crisis. That means that two-thirds of teachers are teaching something they don't really understand. Even those teachers who accept the veracity of climate science do not realize the extent of the scientific consensus.

A few educators said they felt pressured to teach both sides. But most simply seemed unaware of current evidence for anthropogenic climate change.

It is hard to understand how teachers could be so unaware until you appreciate the sophisticated machinery that suppresses the facts. Organizations and individuals are working very hard to keep a science-based climate curriculum out of schools. As reported by the Atlantic, one of those at the forefront of this movement to deny kids access to the facts is Roy White, the founder of Truth in Texas Textbooks. This organization calls the publishers of fact based textbooks "anti-Christian" and "anti-American."

One organization that has been trying to misinform kids and others about climate change is the fossil fuel-funded Heartland Institute.

Thankfully they failed to alter the facts in Texas schoolbooks and this spring Portland announced that it will stop teaching climate denial to kids. However, there are still some powerful opponents who continue to rail against the truth. One Fox "News" reporter used his platform to decry the decision to teach the kids the truth in Portland. Even mainstream media has failed miserably when it comes to scientifically accurate climate news. In the absence of a factual education, it is easy to see how kids could grow up to be just as ill-informed as some of their parents.

Despite the plethora of misinformation, more than three-quarters of Americans want to teach their children the facts about climate change. So no matter how deniers try to deceive our kids, most parents won't stand for it. However, that won't stop them from trying.


Make sure to see the article titled, "Comprehensive Green School Information and Resources." It contains links to over 325 articles covering everything you need to know about sustainable academics, student eco-initiatives, green school buildings, and college rankings as well as a wide range of related information and resources. 

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Of course this starts with the assumption that scientists who agree with climate change are the real "scientists" and scientists who don't agree with climate change are quacks who need to ostracized and blacklisted because they won't tow the line. Climate change supporters need to acknowledge they too don't acknowledge all the facts.

Richard Matthews said...

You clearly don't understand the methodology of science. Peer reviewed research is replicated to establish the veracity of the findings. There is a consensus about the veracity of climate change because 97 percent of scientists acknowledge the weight of the evidence. Good evidence refuting these claims is virtually non-existent. That means that those who deny climate evidence do so as an article of faith not science, either that or they have interests in fossil fuels and other polluting industries.