Having failed in efforts to deny humanity’s impact heating Earth way beyond natural variability, producers of climate misinformation now are targeting kids and families.
When I was a sophomore in college I had a housemate who had never learned about the theory of evolution. I had returned from class one afternoon to find him flipping through the pages of one of my science text books, fascinated by what he was discovering — particularly about human evolution. It was heartbreaking. He had attended Catholic schools that clearly did not prioritize a foundational aspect of humanity, or, apparently, even basic science.
And while omitting the theory of evolution from primary school curricula may not necessarily be nefarious, misleading children about climate science facts certainly is, which is precisely the case with “The Kids Guide to the Truth About Climate Change.”
“It’s propaganda,” Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education, said in an interview with InsideClimateNews.org. The NCSE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting fact-based science education, including about evolution and climate change.
Branch said of the kids guide, “It’s highly slanted with a clear ideological message, and it’s very unreliable as a guide to climate change for kids.”
Among the guide’s misrepresentations of climate facts:
- A graph of “thousands of years of carbon dioxide levels” that never shows levels higher than 280 parts per million, indicating a “present day” level of 280 ppm. In fact, present-day CO2 levels have reached 421 ppm, and have not been as low as 280 ppm since before the Industrial Revolution.
- The guide’s CO2 reference concludes, “looking back in time, carbon dioxide levels have always gone up and down.” Yes, except for the fact that since the Industrial Revolution CO2 levels have skyrocketed way beyond natural variability, caused by humanity’s incessant production of greenhouse gas emissions.
“Apart from its being very misleading, my main concern is that it fosters complacency by promoting the notion that climate change is not as dire a problem as it truly is,” Syracuse University Biology and Earth Science Professor Jason R. Wiles told InsideClimateNews.org.
And Allison Fisher, who reviewed the guide for Media Matters, said, “They’re not just trying to create climate skeptics, they’re actually eroding trust in science and the scientific community.”