Just when you thought climate denial hadn't already pervaded every arena of public and private life...
Texas and Louisiana have introduced education standards that require educators to teach climate change denial as a valid scientific position.
The LA Times story has more:
Although scientific evidence increasingly shows that fossil fuel consumption has caused the climate to change rapidly, the issue has grown so politicized that skepticism of the broad scientific consensus has seeped into classrooms.
Texas and Louisiana have introduced education standards that require educators to teach climate change denial as a valid scientific position. South Dakota and Utah passed resolutions denying climate change. Tennessee and Oklahoma also have introduced legislation to give climate change skeptics a place in the classroom.
NCSE, a small, nonpartisan group of scientists, teachers, clergy and concerned individuals, rose to prominence in the last decade defending evolution in the curriculum.
The controversy around "climate change education is where evolution was 20 years ago," said Eugenie Scott, executive director of NCSE.
At that time, evolution — the long-tested scientific theory that varieties of life forms emerged through biological processes like natural selection and mutation — was patchily taught. Teaching standards have been developed since then, but it's unclear how widely evolution is taught, given teachers' fear of controversy.
Studies show that teachers often set aside evolution for fear of a backlash. Scott worries this could happen with climate science too.
"The question is self-censorship and intimidation. What you have to watch for is the 'hecklers' veto,' " she said. "If a teacher ignores a particular topic, it will likely go unnoticed."
One thing I've noticed is that a small minority of voices, when well positioned, can stymie the voices of reason. Conservative ideologues have been filling the school boards, city councils, etc. for too long---it's a stealth campaign that's been going on for years now, and it's working. They're changing the curriculum in schools, funding priorities in cities away from public institutions and public services (say, public transit), etc.
There's two direct responses (and many more indirect responses) to this sort of action:
1. Run for elected office. Yeah, it's crazy, but why not? I'm talking about starting small: school board, city committees, city council, maybe even mayor.
2. Talk about climate change. Talk about energy problems. They're counting on the silence of the 63% of Americans who know the planet is warming.
This latter point bears some repeating. Denialists of basic, established science like evolution and climate change are counting on us to not speak up. They're looking to muddy the waters, to make the issue seem taboo, without consensus or merit. Everyone knows the old argument---we don't "teach both sides" of the theory of gravity.
There was a good piece at Climate Pirate making the case that speaking up is the most important step:
Let’s circle back to Climate Change. Many are worried about it, as well we should be. But we’re also too quiet. Nearly all of the non-experts I know who care about Climate Change avoid it for fear of feather-ruffling. Even many experts keep quiet.
A key point is that those who want action on Climate Change outnumber those who don’t, and it has been so for years. This means the pro-action side can dominate if we choose. We have only to raise our voices.
So the most important thing each of us, as individuals, can do is speak up and convince others to as well. This goes especially for everyday folks who aren’t already considered partisans. Everyone expects Al Gore to talk Climate Change, so that’s nothing new, but if someone who’s never spoken up before suddenly starts, ears will perk.
Beware: others will try to discourage you, often with good intentions. I recently listened to a marketing pro tell a sustainability group to avoid mentioning Climate Change because it’s too divisive. It’s common marketing advice and it’s wrong. Creating change isn’t like selling widgets. The obstacles to success are different. Pepsi lovers don’t feel pressure to avoid talking about or drinking Pepsi in the presence of Coke drinkers, for example. Marketing pros aren’t aware of the silence problem so they give bad advice.
The silence problem can only be fixed through exposure. Every time I speak plainly, a listener feels freer to follow suit. Our silence allows deniers to advertise their beliefs and implies to the undecided that there’s no problem.