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Heartland Institute Replies to the National Science Teachers Association

April 24, 2017

On April 4, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) issued an open letter to its members calling The Heartland Institute’s latest book "propaganda."

Frustrated science teacher at blackboard

On April 4, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) issued an open letter to its members calling The Heartland Institute’s latest book, Why Scientists Disagree about Global Warming, “propaganda” and our decision to mail copies to science teachers an “unprecedented attack” ... the letter is unclear what, exactly, we attacked. The NSTA goes on to make the outrageous claim that “scientists don’t disagree about climate change or its causes.”

Well, what’s wrong with this picture?

One might have thought, even assumed, that educators are interested in dialogue and debate and would be open to new ideas and facts. Is sharing research and commentary with them somehow improper? If so, why?

The book in question is hardly propaganda: It was written by three distinguished climate scientists, all of whom have doctoral degrees in relevant scientific fields, who together have published hundreds of articles on climate issues in respected peer-reviewed journals. The book has more than 250 references, including many peer-reviewed articles and articles by noted alarmists as well as realists in the climate debate.

Why Scientists Disagree is a small book, only 110 pages long, but it is actually only a single chapter of a much longer book that is in preparation for publication, Climate Change Reconsidered II: Benefits and Costs of Fossil Fuels, produced by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). That book will be the fifth volume in a series that is so highly regarded by the scientific community it has been cited more than 100 times in peer-reviewed articles and was translated into Chinese and published by the Chinese Academy of Science.

Does that sound like “propaganda” to you?

The entire focus of the book, as its title clearly communicates, is that there is a debate taking place in the scientific community over the causes and consequences of climate change. Not that one side is necessarily right or wrong, only that there is disagreement. This is not – protestations and gnashing of teeth by environmental activists and their pet reporters notwithstanding – a controversial assertion.

More than 31,000 scientists have signed a petition stating as clearly and forcibly as they could that “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” In a sane world, this fact alone ought to be sufficient to end silly talk of a “scientific consensus.”

Of course, the NSTA would be wrong if even one credible scientist could be found who disagrees with his colleagues “about climate change or its causes,” but 31,000? How did the NSTA miss that?

There is much more evidence that scientists disagree than just one petition, and more importantly, good reasons why scientists disagree about this wickedly complex scientific puzzle. To learn about that, you need to read the book. It’s available for free online at, in case you weren’t mailed one.

One suspects the leaders of the NSTA didn’t dare open a copy of the book, lest they be persuaded there really is a debate going on. It’s a funny way for educators to act, we think. Are the leaders of the NSTA really teachers?

We urge all science teachers – and professors, civic and business leaders, judges, journalists, and elected officials, to whom we are also sending copies of this book – to keep an open mind on this issue. The stakes are very high.

We have a president of the United States and majorities of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate who do not believe the science is settled. Many of them believe global warming is not a crisis. Are they all wrong? Is it some “vast right-wing conspiracy”? That seems unlikely. Maybe it’s just real science.

Science teachers ought to teach the science of climate change, not the dogma pushed by some environmental activist groups. (On its website, the NSTA lists the ultra-partisan Environmental Defense Fund as a resource. How credible are they?)

Apparently, suggesting that science teachers teach science is an “unprecedented attack” on something. If so, we plead guilty as charged.

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Climate Change
Joseph Bast is president and CEO of The Heartland Institute, a 33-year-old national nonprofit research center located in Arlington Heights, Illinois. @JosephLBast