Three ranking House Democrats on Monday urged teachers to throw away copies of a book written by climate scientists challenging the catastrophic global-warming view, saying the nation’s schools are “inappropriate” forums for such a discussion.
The Democratic blast at “climate deniers” came in response to a campaign by the conservative Heartland Institute to distribute free DVDs and copies of the 2015 book, “Why Climate Scientists Disagree About Global Warming” to about 200,000 K-12 science teachers.
“Public school classrooms are no place for anti-science propaganda, and I encourage every teacher to toss these materials in the recycling bin,” said Rep. Bobby Scott, Virginia Democrat, ranking member of the Education and the Workforce Committee.
“Successful high school graduates are aware and engaged global citizens with an understanding of and appreciation for scientific fact,” said Mr. Scott in a press release. “If the Heartland Institute and other climate deniers want to push a false agenda on global warming, our nation’s schools are an inappropriate place to drive that agenda.”
Heartland Institute president Joseph Bast fired off a statement Monday asking, “Is this a belated April Fool’s Day joke? If not, it should be. This is hilarious.”
In its March 3 letters to teachers, Heartland asked them to “consider the possibility that the science is in fact not ‘settled.’”
“If that’s the case, then students would be better served by letting them know a vibrant debate is taking place among scientists on how big the human impact on climate is, and whether or not we should be worried about it,” said Mr. Bast. “That sounds pretty reasonable, doesn’t it? Not, apparently, to out-of-touch Democrats in Washington, DC.”
The book’s three authors, all of whom hold doctorates and taught science at the university level, are Craig Idso, S. Fred Singer and Robert M. Carter, who died in 2016.
In their statement, the Democrats said the Heartland Institute has received millions from “right-wing funders, including the Koch and Scaife financial networks.”
“Lying to children about the world we live in to further corporate polluter profits is cruel,” said Mr. Grijalva of Arizona, ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee.
“If climate deniers think our public schools are the right place for their propaganda, they need to be exposed in no uncertain terms,” Mr. Grijalva said. “Let’s see how much Heartland believes in this project when schools, teachers, parents, students and our fellow members of Congress tell the group and its corporate funders to end this ridiculous campaign.”
The Democrats said they were alarmed by a March 28 report on the PBS show “Frontline” on the Heartland effort.
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, ranking member on the House Science Committee, said she was “not really surprised to see a right-wing organization sending scientifically inaccurate materials on climate change to public school teachers across the country.”
Given that climate change has “emerged as a defining scientific and policy challenge facing humanity,” she said, “we must, at a minimum, ensure that our children are exposed to the best scientific resources on this issue, not these unsolicited and misleading materials from the Heartland Institute.”
Mr. Bast noted that Mr. Grijalva was behind a 2015 congressional investigation into climate skeptics, prompting accusations of a “witch hunt.”
“My advice to Grijalva and his colleagues is that they pull their heads out of the sand long enough to read the book. Then they will understand why scientists, voters, and now the President of the United States all believe global warming is not a crisis,” said Mr. Bast. “It’s time to move on, find another fake crisis to hype to scare voters and raise campaign dollars. The global warming scare is over.”