The fight to stem global warming -- perhaps the greatest fight in our species' history -- has an ominous new front: our public schools.
Friends of the Earth has received a copy of American Government, published by mammoth Houghton Mifflin, which is used in AP government classes in high schools nationwide. The latest edition's chapter on "Environmental Policy" contains a discussion of global warming so biased and misleading it would humble a tobacco industry PR man:
* "It is a foolish politician who today opposes environmentalism. And that creates a problem, because not all environmental issues are equally deserving of support. Take the case of global warming." (p. 559)
* "The earth has become warmer, but is this mostly the result of natural climate changes, or is it heavily influenced by humans putting greenhouse gases into the air?" (p.559)
* "On the one hand, a warmer globe will cause sea levels to rise, threatening coastal communities; on the other hand, greater warmth will make it easier and cheaper to grow crops and avoid high heating bills." (p. 559)
* "But many other problems are much less clear-cut. Science doesn't know how bad the green-house effect is." (p. 566)
These are not quotes from oil company press releases. These and other such statements are made by the authors of American Government in the same omnipotent, textbook tone with which we are all familiar.
Two of the world's most respected climate scientists, Dr. James Hansen and Dr. Michael MacCracken, have weighed in with Houghton Mifflin to denounce the book and demand revisions. "I find it alarming that a widely-used textbook from a respected publisher would contain so many gross errors," wrote Hansen. "Failure to correct the book's errors will leave students gravely misinformed about the facts and science of global warming, one of the most serious problems that we as a society and a species face."
It is hard enough to persuade lawmakers and captains of industry to acknowledge the challenge of global warming, let alone take action. How much more difficult will our struggle for a sane response be if our own public schools are working against us?
Friends of the Earth has set up a two-in-one action on this issue: We will send a message from you to Houghton Mifflin asking them to revise the book and issue a corrective packet to all school districts using the current book -- and we will copy each of your governors, letting them know how outraged you are that state tax dollars are being spent in this dangerous manner.
Be heard, right now: http://action.foe.org/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=24168