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Clever Propaganda Masquerading as Teacher’s Guide Should Stay Out of Classroom

February 3, 2018

Review of The Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change, by Ingrid H. H. Zabel, Don Duggan-Haas, and Robert M. Ross

The Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change is a blatant effort to convince teachers to instill in their students false premises of climate change alarmism.

In the guise of a paleo-geology book and a modern U.S. geography text, the authors offer the reader interesting knowledge before inserting inaccurate information on humanity’s impact on our current climate. Wherever possible, the authors insert the notion that mankind’s excessive emissions of carbon dioxide are responsible for an impending climate change catastrophe.

False Claims About Climate

The authors begin by extolling the importance of scientific consensus, declaring, “Climate change is politically but not scientifically controversial. More than 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is caused by human activity.”

This claim has been proven false, notably in the work of David Legates and other scholars who wrote “Climate Consensus and ‘Misinformation’: A Rejoinder to Agnotology, Scientific Consensus, and the Teaching and Learning of Climate Change,” published by Springer Science+Business Media in 2015.

Abundance of Falsehoods

While acknowledging weather and climate are complex phenomena, The Teacher-Friendly Guide argues, “Mathematical models have been proven to accurately predict both past and recent outcomes.”

Actually, not a single one of more than 100 global circulation models (GCMs) financed by governments has been able to predict what our weather has been over the past 20 years. Ignoring this critical refutation of their claims, the authors go on to offer model calculations predicting damaging future outcomes in every geographic region of the United States if we do not significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Disparaging Dissenters

The book disparages dissenting opinions by offering quotes from only those scientists supporting their position.

The authors leave condemnation of their theory’s leading detractors—The Heartland Institute and the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—to almost the last of its 250 pages. There they state Heartland used but 50 experts to write its Climate Change Reconsidered books, compared to 2,000 from 100 countries who wrote the IPCC reports. The authors fail to acknowledge that few of the IPCC participants are trained climate scientists. They are instead politicians and economists. The authors also incorrectly characterize Heartland as supporting big oil and efforts to thwart the Endangered Species Act and downplaying secondhand smoke, acid rain, and ozone depletion.

Obscuring the Sun’s Effects

In arguing the sun can only have a long-term impact on variable climates, and thus no reasonable impact on recent changes in climate, the authors explain the well-known Milankovitch cycles. They accurately describe the 100,000-year eccentricity of the earth’s orbit, the 41,000-year change in obliquity, and the 20,000-year precession of the equinoxes. They fail, however, to mention the short-term solar cycles that change the sun’s radiation every few decades.

For reasons of possible obfuscation, the authors offer their version of a climate history of each of the geologic eras, always arguing ancient variations are unrelated to today’s climates.

The book then describes the differing climates in the various regions of the United States, and the authors depict, in very scary detail, the disasters they claim will happen in each area if we cannot successfully shut down our use of fossil fuels.

Glorifying Green Energy

The book also reviews potential mitigation techniques, extolling the wonders of wind and solar power, green buildings, energy-efficient appliances, public transportation, self-driving cars, and carbon capture. They do not call the latter carbon dioxide capture, which is the accurate label, but instead use the false term to suggest all these efforts are required in order to reduce accumulations of soot, which most people would rightly consider worth a high cost but has already been accomplished in the United States and the rest of the developed world.

Another chapter explains “geoengineering,” in which people would control the global temperature through enhanced chemical weathering, ocean fertilization, aerosol distribution, albedo alteration, and more.

If we do not carry out mitigation and geoengineering, sea levels will rise, floods and droughts will increase, as will hurricanes, tornadoes, and other extreme weather events, the authors claim. As noted above, that is simply false.

Encouraging Alarmism

Perhaps the most disturbing part of the book describes how teachers can bring their students and their peers to the alarmist point of view. The authors explain how to use language to propagandize for a government-mandated near-elimination of CO2 emissions.

This book is not a valid science book, and it certainly is not a good tool for teachers. It is clever propaganda for climate alarmists.

Jay Lehr, Ph.D. (Jlehr@heartland.org) is science director at The Heartland Institute.

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Author
Jay Lehr, Ph.D. is the science director at The Heartland Institute.
jlehr@heartland.org