May 4, 2012 Is Funding Global Warming Denial In Our Schools Is Funding Global Warming Denial In Our Schools

Last month, Tennessee passed a law that would establish protections for teachers who chose to teach unscientific theories doubting global warming in a science classrooms. (It was somehow attached to a bill also providing protections for teachers instructing about creationism.)

The group behind these climate denial laws, which have popped up all over the country, is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a secretive corporate front group mostly financed by Big Business. ALEC and its corporate funders write model bills and then pass them off to state legislators to advocate for and pass in their states.

Here’s an excerpt of ALEC’s climate denial bill:

[Teachers should] provide instruction in critical thinking so that students will be able to fairly and objectively evaluate scientific…controversies…balanced and objective environmental education materials and programs will…be used

And here’s a passage from Tennesee’s bill that was passed:

Create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues

Following the outrage at the organization for promoting “Stand Your Ground” laws and voter suppression bills, ALEC says that it is re-focusing itself on economic issues — yet it doesn’t seem to be backing off of this part of its agenda.

One of the funders of ALEC is The online retailer giant was a “Director”-level sponsor of ALEC’s conference last year, meaning it gave at least $10,000 to the group. Presumably it funds ALEC because the organization helps advocate against charging online giants like any sales tax, which gives them an unfair advantage over brick-and-mortar stores.

There are a few corporate interests financing ALEC who would directly benefit from denying climate change. ExxonMobil, Chevron, Koch Industries, and Shell are all ALEC donors.

But by funding ALEC, bears responsibility for all of the organization’s activities. If it doesn’t believe in promoting climate denial and undermining science education, then it shouldn’t be funding an organization that apparently does.