Spring 2019. “Sixth-grade science teacher Kristen Del Real had invited me to come by during her prep period, so for the first time since age thirteen,” Katie Worth writes, “I found myself walking the halls of my alma mater, Chico Junior High School.”
She had returned to find out what kids were being taught about climate change.
Worth worked with PBS’ “Frontline” and The GroundTruth Project, part of a team that won an Emmy for the interactive documentary “The Last Generation” (bit.ly/3dMzMNL) about three young people living in the Marshall Islands. Rising sea levels threaten their very homeland.
One of them moved with his family to Oklahoma, and Worth wanted to know what his textbooks said about climate change. The answer fit into her larger investigative journalism project now published in book form: “Miseducation: How Climate Change Is Taught In America” ($16 in paperback from Columbia Global Reports; also for Amazon Kindle).
Worth “traveled to more than a dozen communities to talk to kids about what they have learned about the phenomenon that will shape their future. What I found were points of friction in abundance.”
Del Real explains that several years earlier, students started to lose interest in their climate change “solution projects” because a history teacher “was showing them YouTube videos alleging that global warming was a hoax.”
And yet, Worth writes, “the more that scientists have studied a link between human industry and global temperatures, the more unambiguous they have found it.”
Her report explains how “climate deniers” create “climate doubters” among the general public in a striking parallel with tobacco industry tactics. She is frank in her reporting that climate scientists don’t know everything, and she interviews climate skeptics and fossil fuel advocates.
But the bottom line is that climate change is falsely presented as a debate, as if coming from “legitimate scientific disagreement.”
In 2019, Paradise Intermediate School seventh-grader Nakowa Kelley said in Marc Kessler’s science class: “This global warming stuff? My parents said it’s not true.”
With care and attention, Kessler tells Worth he helps students search for the truth, but it is a challenge.
The previous November Nakowa’s house disappeared in the Camp Fire.
Dan Barnett teaches philosophy at Butte College. Send review requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. Columns archived at https://dielbee.blogspot.com