Climate Change Debate Heats Up in Schools

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A Sep. 2011 study by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) found that 82% of K-12 teachers had faced climate change skepticism from students, 54% from parents, and 26% from administrators.

The National Center for Science Education, a nonprofit group that has defended the teaching of evolution in public schools since 1983, decided to expand its mission to include defending the teaching of climate change.

“It’s been a growing realization of ours that, just as teachers get hammered for teaching evolution, they also are getting hammered for teaching global warming and other climate change topics,” said NCSE Executive Director Eugenie Scott. “They’ll start talking about global warming and a student’s hand will shoot up, ‘teacher, my dad says global warming is a hoax.’ We’ve had accounts where students would get up and walk out of the room.”

Climate change skeptics such as the Heartland Institute distribute free educational materials which question climate chance science to schools. 31,487 American scientists have signed a petition saying, “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.”

2012 presidential candidates Gov. Gary Johnson and President Barack Obama say humans are substantially responsible for global climate change. Senator Rick Santorum and Rep. Ron Paul do not agree. Speaker Newt Gingrich, Gov. Buddy Roemer, and Gov. Mitt Romney appear to have not clearly pro or con positions on the issue.

Sources:

Erica Gies, “Climate Politics Stand Between Students and Science Education,” forbes.com, Jan. 17, 2012

Ars Technica, “The New Science Classroom Battleground: Climate Change,” wired.com, Jan. 17, 2012