NCSE's Branch dismisses Heartland's latest propaganda campaign

Denial Is Deadly, Climate Change is Real sign.

Denial is Deadly Climate Change is REAL, Sign, March for Science. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

"The 1990s called. They want their scientific misinformation back" is the fitting subhead to a story in Grist (February 6, 2023) about the Heartland Institute's latest climate change denial propaganda campaign — and NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch is featured.

Heartland's campaign involves sending unsolicited material to 8000 science teachers across the country. "This is not Heartland's first rodeo," Branch observed, alluding to earlier campaigns in which Heartland targeted science teachers — reaching 350,000 of them in 2017 according to Inside Climate News (December 22, 2017). The effect of Heartland's earlier efforts was negligible, Branch told Grist. "In previous campaigns, the bulk of teachers and students who received the materials threw them out or put them in the recycling bin." Grist's story also observed, "Branch also thinks the fact that this year's campaign is so scaled back from the 2017 mailout means even Heartland itself recognizes this as a failing strategy."

"What Heartland is hoping for is to catch those who haven't been equipped to understand climate science well enough to realize the highly misleading nature of the materials," Branch added, citing the 2014-2015 NCSE/Penn State survey (PDF) that showed that a majority (57 percent) of public middle and high school science teachers had not learned about climate change in their own education. "As states increasingly add climate change to their science standards, Branch hopes to see more states follow in the path of Washington, California, Maine, and New Jersey in appropriating funds for teacher professional development on the issue, which would equip them with the tools to identify misinformation."

NCSE spearheaded the response to Heartland's 2017 campaign and continues to support climate change education in a variety of ways, including free climate change lesson sets aimed at dismantling the misconceptions that students bring to the classroom.

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.