Claim: Climate Change is Being Downgraded in University Textbooks

Essay by Eric Worrall

There is evidence university science teachers might be deliberately skipping over climate indoctrination.

Climate-change content shrinks in US university textbooks

Sections on climate change have gotten shorter and moved farther back in biology textbooks since the 2000s.

McKenzie Prillaman
21 December 2022

University biology textbooks published in the United States in the 2010s contained less climate-change content than did those in the 2000s, despite the increasing urgency of the climate crisis1.

The researchers assessed 57 textbooks published between 1970 and 2019. They counted the sentences in the books’ climate-change passages — identified by phrases such as ‘global warming’ and ‘greenhouse gas’ — and found that the median number of sentences per passage rose until the 2000s (see ‘A textbook change’). It peaked in that decade at 52, but then dropped to 45 in the 2010s. (The authors deemed the median a better value to use than the average because of the wide range in passage length.)

Furthermore, the median position of sections about climate change moved from the last 15% of pages in the 1970s — when many scientists first became convinced that the planet was warming — to the last 2.5% in the 2010s. Controversial topics are usually placed at the end, Landin says, because “it allows teachers to ‘run out of time’ and then not have to teach them”.

Topics within the climate-change passages also shifted. Since the 1990s, the proportion of sentences devoted to solutions has dwindled, whereas content on the effects of climate change, including extreme weather and worsening diseases, has grown. Landin praises this more holistic portrayal of the impacts. But with the simultaneous decrease in solutions, she says, the balance of content skews towards hopelessness.

Read more:

The abstract of the study;

Coverage of climate change in introductory biology textbooks, 1970–2019

Rabiya Arif Ansari ,Jennifer M. Landin  
Published: December 21, 2022

Climate change is a potent threat to human society, biodiversity, and ecosystem stability. Yet a 2021 Gallup poll found that only 43% of Americans see climate change as a serious threat over their lifetimes. In this study, we analyze college biology textbook coverage of climate change from 1970 to 2019. We focus on four aspects for content analysis: 1) the amount of coverage, determined by counting the number of sentences within the climate change passage, 2) the start location of the passage in the book, 3) the categorization of sentences as addressing a description of the greenhouse effect, impacts of global warming, or actions to ameliorate climate change, and 4) the presentation of data in figures. We analyzed 57 textbooks. Our findings show that coverage of climate change has continually increased, although the greatest increase occurred during the 1990s despite the growing threats of climate change. The position of the climate change passage moved further back in the book, from the last 15% to the last 2.5% of pages. Over time, coverage shifted from a description of the greenhouse effect to focus mostly on effects of climate change; the most addressed impact was shifting ecosystems. Sentences dedicated to actionable solutions to climate change peaked in the 1990s at over 15% of the passage, then decreased in recent decades to 3%. Data figures present only global temperatures and CO2 levels prior to the year 2000, then include photographic evidence and changes to species distributions after 2000. We hope this study will alert curriculum designers and instructors to consider implicit messages communicated in climate change lessons.

Read more:

The study authors also accuse science teachers of being climate deniers, or being “confused” about climate change;

Science teachers exhibit denial of, or confusion about, climate change. Plutzer et al. extensively studied teachers’ classroom methods and educational backgrounds pertaining to climate change [12]. They found that, while most teachers cover the topic, 31% report sending explicitly contradictory messages in effort of teaching “both sides.” Almost one-third of the teachers emphasized that recent global warming is “likely due to natural causes,” and 12% do not emphasize human causes at all. Fewer than half of teachers reported formal education in climate change in college.

The sequence of chapters can play a critical role in how, or if, content is addressed in the classroom. Controversial topics of reproduction, evolution, and conservation were placed at the rear of biology textbooks in the 1930s, beginning a tradition of book organization still observed today [16]. Instructors usually progress through a textbook from one chapter to the next and, in studies examining teachers’ use of textbooks, chapters at the end of the books are frequently skipped [1718].

Read more: Same link as above

Here’s a possibility. Maybe textbooks are pushing climate indoctrination to the end, and downgrading content, because science teachers are forcing the market, by seeking out and buying textbooks which make it easier for them to avoid having to indoctrinate their students.

This kind of thing gives me hope. If I am right, if researchers are angry about climate propaganda but are keeping it to themselves, all it will take is a spark, a push too far, like significantly increasing the amount of climate content on exams, and climate activists could have an open academic rebellion on their hands.

via Watts Up With That?

December 22, 2022 at 12:39PM

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