The National Science Foundation has awarded $33 million over the next five years to six organizations that promise to promote worries about climate change in schools and communities.
The grants focus on classroom instruction and outreach through museums, aquariums, and nature centers, ranging from $4.9 million to $5.9 million each. The grant proposals target a wide array of people, including elected officials, students in grades 8 to 12, and “Key Influentials being trained as knowledgeable messengers to deliver locally-relevant information” in San Diego.
“The focus is on how best to spread the scare,” said David Wojick, director of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education Center. “Each grant goes to a network, which is then supposed to clone itself and grow.”
One initiative aims to create a “national model for comprehensive climate change education,” while another proposes to “develop a resilient and replicable national infrastructure for reaching … public audiences.” Another boasts its team has experts in decision science, the study of how people make decisions, widely used in marketing.
“The basic problem is that [schools] don’t teach the science,” said Michael Sanera, author of Facts, Not Fear: Teaching Children About the Environment. Instead, he said, “They do behavior modification. National education meetings have regular panel discussions on how to use sophisticated behavior modification on kids without the parents knowing it. They want to make kids not be critical thinkers about science but to basically do certain things they consider environmentally correct without good, hard evidence and examination of the pros and cons of various points of view.”
Despite such efforts, just 38 percent of Americans believe human activity is causing global warming, according to the Pew Research Center.
Science of Propaganda
Grant recipients told Education Week they intend to shift away from controversy and toward the “consensus” that human activities have created global warming that threatens catastrophe.
“That there is no scientific controversy is a lie,” Wojick said. “The government spreading a lie to further its policies is the very definition of propaganda. Hence this is propaganda on a massive scale. NSF is turning propaganda into a science.”
Wojick is developing evidence-based climate change materials for teachers in conjunction with The Heartland Institute, which publishes School Reform News.
“The bias of the teaching of climate change and/or global warming is profound,” said Tim Ball, an environmental consultant and retired University of Winnipeg climatology professor.
Big Spending on Advocacy
NSF is a federal agency that devotes most of its $7 billion annual budget to grants. It has a long history of spending millions to promote the alarmist interpretation of the global warming debate, said James Taylor, a Heartland Institute senior fellow in environmental studies.
“It looks like NSF is paying for orchestrated attempts at political influence,” Wojick said. “This has nothing to do with education.”
NSF is not the only global warming tax spender. The World Wildlife Fund spent $68.5 million on “public education” last year, according to the Wall Street Journal, and 18 percent of its operating fund came from taxpayer grants and contracts. The Natural Resources Defense Council made $95.4 million in 2011, according to the WSJ, 1 percent of which came from taxpayers.
Confusion for Teachers, Students
Federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also have released alarmist, misleading, and erroneous educational materials, said Ball and Neal McCluskey, associate director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom.
“Climate change is a scientific issue, but it’s almost always in the social science curriculum of the schools,” Ball said. “That means it is taught basically in scientific ignorance, and automatically becomes a political and emotional issue rather than ‘What are the facts here?'”
Teachers are often too busy and inundated with material to sift through the climate change debate themselves, Ball said. Teacher training and textbooks teem with inaccurate, biased information, Sanera said.
“You find true believers who will try to browbeat the schools, tell them they’re giving in to mystics or deniers,” McCluskey said. “The reality is most people aren’t going to touch this, no matter what these guys say, even if they have a strong opinion, … because they don’t want to get into big conflicts. A lot of people don’t buy these ‘The world’s going to end unless we destroy the economy’ sort of arguments.”
Sneaking Into Schools
McCluskey studied California’s environmental education requirements, and said most education leaders would rather not follow suit, given the controversy. That may change if Common Core science standards go nationwide, he said. The Core promotes concern over global warming and attributes it to human activity. Its math and language arts standards have been adopted in 46 states under pressure from the Obama administration.
“It’s absolutely amazing how little people know of what goes on,” Ball said. “People don’t realize how vulnerable our society is through its school system.”
The trend is to push politicized science education on younger children, Sanera said, when they are “more impressionable” and unable to understand much about how the science works.
“These kids are being frightened about the environment,” Ball said, relating an incident of children crying at a birthday party because they feared a popped helium balloon would expand the ozone hole. “Putting that kind of a problem on those small shoulders is criminal.”
Image by woodleywonderworks.