Climate Change Denial Nixed in Textbooks

On Friday, I was happy to report that climate change denial was removed from the social studies textbook Pearson proposed to sell in Texas. And I was sad to say that McGraw-Hill hadn’t gone far enough in addressing climate change denial in their Texas geography textbook. I’m pleased to be able to update that report and say that both publishers have now agreed to correct their coverage of climate change.

McGraw-Hill tells our friends at Texas Freedom Network that they intend to remove the problematic exercise. The exercise asked students in a 6th grade social studies class to debate the scientific conclusion that climate change is largely caused by humans and paired credible science from the IPCC with political propaganda from the Heartland Institute. McGraw-Hill suggested some revisions to the exercise last week, which did improve the exercise, but which didn’t fully resolve the fundamental inaccuracy of the Heartland Institute excerpt.

Over the last few weeks, we at NCSE and our colleagues at TFN and Climate Parents have rallied thousands of people to sign petitions calling for these changes, have assembled letters of support from the leading scientific societies, and circulated a sign-on letter that was joined by scientific, educational, and advocacy organizations, and even Bill Nye.

Tomorrow, the board will hold a public hearing on the textbooks, and will gather as a committee to hold a test vote on which books to adopt. Publishers will then have until Friday to address whatever new concerns the board raises, because that’s when the final vote will happen. The board might try to reverse the changes the publishers made, so we’ll stay vigilant until that last vote. But with this move, the publishers have made clear that they intend to stand up for accurate science, and we’ll support them however we can.

Once this is over, we’ll turn to a bigger problem. In reviewing these books, we were worried about the falsehoods, but we couldn’t help noticing that most of the books we reviewed simply didn’t cover climate change. Climate change belongs in science textbooks, and we saw it too rarely in last year’s Texas science textbook adoption. This year’s social studies adoption makes clear that publishers haven’t done what’s needed to ensure climate change coverage in social studies textbooks, either. That’s a longer-term problem, and one that won’t be fixed with this week’s vote. But it’s one that has to be fixed, and soon.

Josh Rosenau
Short Bio

Josh Rosenau is a former Programs and Policy Director at NCSE.