"The textbook tends to present only the majority viewpoint of the topic, and that's to the detriment of the students," he said, adding that he believes there is a "good, safe debate" on whether human beings have an impact on climate change.
A 'huge deficit of knowledge'
A number of groups have been fighting the Discovery Institute's efforts. Most recently, a petition organized by 350.org, Forecast the Facts and SignOn.org garnered 10,000 signatures against Arizona's S.B. 1213, which died Feb. 22.
The National Center for Science Education acts as a watchdog on the status of bills like S.B. 1213. McCaffrey leads the center's climate change initiative and works to promote action against the legislation.
McCaffrey said American students are already woefully undereducated on the issue of climate change, citing a 2011 Yale report that showed that fewer than one in five teens felt "very well informed" on global warming, and that more than two-thirds think they have not learned a great deal about climate change in school.
The report, titled "American Teens' Knowledge of Climate Change," also found that "44 percent of teens believe that stopping rockets from punching holes in the ozone layer would reduce global warming."
"There is this huge deficit of knowledge," McCaffrey said. "Students are just not learning what they need to learn to be informed citizens."
A new set of national science teaching standards known as the Next Generation Science Standards, to be completed this month, seeks to change this situation. According to earlier reports, middle and high school students would learn about the various ways humans have affected the climate.
"We anticipate in the coming months and maybe even years that there will be an effort -- some of it may be coordinated, some of it may be ad-hoc -- to try to scuttle, or delay or water down the Next Generation Science Standards," McCaffrey said.
On a Discovery Institute website, Youngkin has already written a post applauding Texas' reluctance to accept the standards, saying, "The Next Generation Science Standards would employ uniform standards to subtly impose on every state 'the one right way' for every teacher to teach about evolution and climate change."
McCaffrey, who is among those who say humans undoubtedly have an influence on the Earth's climate, calls such efforts by the Discovery Institute and others indicators of a "counter-movement, dedicated to fostering confusion and doubt and delay around having an adult conversation around climate change."
"We've heard stories of teachers showing a clip from 'An Inconvenient Truth' and a clip from 'The Great Global Warming Swindle,' and the students come away confused," McCaffrey said, referring to two documentary films that take completely opposite views on climate change. "That's not a good way to teach science."
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500