Science Educators Take on Climate Naysayers

Courtney Williams's picture
Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A noted science education organization Monday announced a turn to battling climate science naysayers.

The National Center for Science Education, based in Oakland, Calif., is best known for leading charges against creationist efforts to remove evolution from public schools nationwide. But now, the three-decade-old group will also fight efforts to slip incorrect climate science information into school lessons.

"We are seeing more efforts in legislatures and schools to push climate misinformation on teachers and students," says NCSE head Eugenie Scott. The NCSE plans to serve as a resource for science teachers facing school board or classroom fights over climate science.

A 2010 National Academy of Sciences report confirmed the evidence that fossil-fuel emissions of greenhouse gases are the largest contributor to a rise in atmospheric temperatures warming the climate about 1.4 degrees in the last century, with more warming on the way depending on the amount of future emissions. While about 97% of working climate scientists agree that the climate is warming due to people burning coal, oil and other fossil fuels, roughly 66% of the public wrongly thinks there is a lot of disagreement among them, found a 2011 Nature Climate Science journal survey. The NCSE is hearing "more and more," Scott says, that this contradiction is playing out in classroom and in curriculum fights that mirror similar debates over creationism.

"We have heard a lot from teachers about students just walking out of classes where climate science is presented to them, and about pressure from parents and outside groups to present misinformation," Scott says.

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