Issues Stop Global Warming ALEC Climate Change Denial Model Bill Passes in Tennessee

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ALECExposedThe month of March has seen unprecedented heat and temperatures. A rational thinking, scientifically-grounded individual could only posit, "Well, hmm, I bet climate change has something to do with the fact that in Madison, WI, it is 80 degrees in mid-March. Sometimes it's 60 or 70 degrees colder than this!"

While that individual would be positing something that is the well-accepted scientific consensus, in some states, under law, that is only a "controversial theory among other theories."

Welcome to Tennessee, which on March 19th became the fourth state with a legal mandate to incorporate climate change denial as part of the science education curriculum when discussing climate change.

First it was Louisiana, back in 2009, then Texas in 2009, South Dakota in 2010 and now Tennessee has joined the club, bringing the total to four U.S. states that have mandated climate change denial in K-12 "science" education.

Many other states could follow in their footsteps as well, given that, as DeSmogBlog exposed in late-January, this is an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model bill, a near miror image of its Orwellian-titled "Environmental Literacy Improvement Act."[PDF]

The machinations of ALEC are best explained by the Center for Media and Demoracy's "ALEC Exposed" project.

The ALEC bill passed as H.B. 368 and S.B. 893, with 70-23 and 24-8 roll call votes, respectively. Tennesse Republican Governor Bill Haslam is likely to sign the bill into law soon.

The ALEC Model Bill

As DeSmogBlog reported in January, the Tennessee bill is based on an ALEC model bill passed in May 2000. We explained at the time,

"The bill's opening clause reads [PDF], 'The purpose of this act is to enhance and improve the environmental literacy of students and citizens in the state by requiring that all environmental education programs and activities conducted by schools, universities, and agencies shall…'

  • Provide a range of perspectives presented in a balanced manner.
  • Provide instruction in critical thinking so that students will be able to fairly and objectively evaluate scientific and economic controversies.
  • Be presented in language appropriate for education rather than for propagandizing.
  • Encourage students to explore different perspectives and form their own opinions.
  • Encourage an atmosphere of respect for different opinions and open-mindedness to new ideas.
  • Not be designed to change student behavior, attitudes or values.
  • Not include instruction in political action skills nor encourage political action activities."

To summarize, under this model bill and its relatives, global warming will be taught as a "theory" among other "credible theories," including those unscientific "theories" peddled by the well-paid "merchants of doubt."

This, of course, flies in the face of the well-accepted scientific consensus, which has proven global warming as the harsh reality, time and time again. The science speaks for itself, and the fossil fuel money funding climate change deniers speaks for itself.

The Tennessee Bill

Key portions of the Tennessee bills are as follows (emphases mine):

  • "The teaching of some scientific subjects, including, but not limited to,biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and humancloning, can cause controversy."
  • "The state board of education, public elementary and secondary school governing authorities, directors of schools, school system administrators, and public elementary and secondary school principals and administrators shall endeavor to create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to…respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues."
  • Neither the state board of education, nor any public elementary or secondary school governing authority, director of schools, school system administrator, or any public elementary or secondary school principal or administrator shall prohibit any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught."

Look familar? It should.

The bill was opposed by a broad-based coalition, including the National Association of Biology Teachers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Nashville Tennessean, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the National Earth Science Teachers Association, the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, and all eight Tennessee members of the National Academy of Sciences.

These voices of reason were no opposition to ALEC, its corporate backers, and the politicians who serve them, which saw the bill pass with little opposition whatsoever.

A Review: Bill Written By and For Corporate Polluters

We wrote this back in January:

"The money paper trail for this ALEC model bill runs deep, to put it bluntly.

When the ALEC model bill was adopted in 2000 by ALEC's Natural Resources Task Force, the head of that committee was Sandy Liddy Bourne, who after that stint, became Director of Legislation and Policy for ALEC. She is now with the Heartland Institute as vice-president for policy strategy. In Sandy Liddy Bourne's bio on the Heartland website, she boasts that "Under her leadership, 20 percent of ALEC model bills were enacted by one state or more, up from 11 percent."

SourceWatch states that Liddy Bourne '…is the daughter of former Nixon aide and convicted Watergate criminal G. Gordon Liddy, who spent more than 52 months in prison for his part in the Watergate burglary…[and her] speech at the Heartland Institute's 2008 International Conference on Climate Change was titled, 'The Kyoto Legacy; The Progeny of a Carbon Cartel in the States.'

The Heartland Institute (of Heartland Exposed infamy) was formerly heavily funded by ExxonMobil and Koch Industries, just like ALEC was at the time that Liddy Bourne's committee devised the 'Environmental Literacy Improvement Act.' These two corporations are infamous for their funding of climate change "skeptic" think tanks and front groups.

Today, the corporate polluter members of ALEC's Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force include representatives from American Electric Power, the Fraser Institute, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Institute for Energy Research, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the Heartland Institute, and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, to name several."

Getting Them While They're Young: A Cynical Maneuver

DeSmogBlog stands by what it wrote in January:

"Maneuvering to dupe schoolchildren is about as cynical as it gets. Neuroscience explains that young brains are like sponges, ready to soak in knowledge (and disinformation, for that matter), and thus, youth are an ideal target for the "merchants of doubt."

The corporations behind the writing and dissemination of this ALEC model bill, who are among the largest polluters in the world, would benefit handsomly from a legislative mandate to sow the seeds of confusion on climate science among schoolchildren."

Looks like its four down, 46 states to go for ALEC.

The fight has only just begun.

Link to original article from DeSmog Blog

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Obama promises to ‘cut carbon pollution’ in new Climate Action Plan

Obama promises to ‘cut carbon pollution’ in new Climate Action Plan

The White House has released plans to curb US carbon pollution, boost wind and solar energy capacity, protect coastal zones from rising sea levels and drive UN talks on a global climate change deal forwards. President Barack Obama is set to officially present the country’s first...

Ed King | RTCC 25 Jun 2013 Hits:680 SGW Articles

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Activists take fracking fight to Democratic governors

Activists take fracking fight to Democratic governors

A press release from last week from the Americans Against Fracking: Washington, D.C. – Today a coalition led by Americans Against Fracking, 350.org, Democracy for America and Washington, D.C. – Today a coalition led by Americans Against Fracking, 350.org, Democracy for America and Food & Water Watch,...

Bob Downing | Ohio.com 28 May 2013 Hits:810 SGW Articles

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Native American Communities From New York Launch Fight Against Fracking and For the Enviro…

Native American Communities From New York Launch Fight Against Fracking and For the Environment

Since New York was dubbed the "Empire State," Native American territory has been ransacked by ecological exploitation. Five years ago, Hickory Edwards was called to the water. A citizen of the Onondaga Nation, whose territory just south of Syracuse is the heart of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy...

Andrew Bard Epstein | AlterNet 28 May 2013 Hits:1066 SGW Articles

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Four Examples from the Last Week Prove Obama Is Full of Hot Air on Climate Protection

Four Examples from the Last Week Prove Obama Is Full of Hot Air on Climate Protection

You can't hit 400 ppm CO2 and still think "all of the above" is a rationale energy strategy. A lot has happened in the last week. The Earth hit the 400 parts per million CO2 threshold for the first time in human history. Scientists tell us...

Tara Lohan | AlterNet 18 May 2013 Hits:885 SGW Articles

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The Lobster Boat vs. The Coal Freighter as Climate Activists Blockade Power Plant

The Lobster Boat vs. The Coal Freighter as Climate Activists Blockade Power Plant

In a David vs. Goliath scenario the Henry David T. puts itself between Energy Enterprise and New England's largest coal plant Stearing a lobster boat called the Henry David T., two climate activists on Wednesday attempted to blockade a shipment of West Virginia coal from arriving...

Jon Queally | Common Dreams 18 May 2013 Hits:781 SGW Articles

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Obama may delay Keystone decision until 2014

Obama may delay Keystone decision until 2014

The Obama administration has been procrastinating on its decision on the Keystone XL pipeline for years — and now comes word that it may kick the can even further down the road. From Reuters: The Obama administration is unlikely to make a decision on the Canada-to-Nebraska...

Lisa Hymas | Grist.org 13 May 2013 Hits:598 SGW Articles

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Keystone XL: Obama urged by Democrat backers to reject pipeline

Keystone XL: Obama urged by Democrat backers to reject pipeline

Letter signed by 150 prominent donors says project is the most important environmental decision of presidency The biggest backers of the Democratic causes urged Barack Obama on Friday to take historic action on climate change by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline. In a letter seen by the...

Suzanne Goldenberg | The Guardian 10 May 2013 Hits:916 SGW Articles

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Stop Global Warming IOT Calls

  • 10-07-2014 Stop Global Warming

    Listen to this month's call which starts with a recap of the incredible People's Climate March that took place in New York City, and hear people's personal perspectives who were on the ground. We then heard from Emily Wurth of Food & Water Watch...

  • 9-13-2014 NYC Climate March Planning Call

    9-13-2014 NYC Climate March Planning Call

  • NYC Climate Rally Planning Call

    NYC Climate Rally Planning Call 9-3-2014

  • 09-02-2014 Stop Global Warming

    Listen in this month to special guest Rev. Lennox Yearwood as he speaks about the People's Climate March and why this is the biggest issue of our times and this generation. Great conversation, updates, and much more.

  • 08-13-2014 Stop Global Warming

    Listen to this month's call with special guests Sara Shor, the US National Organizer for 350.org and Mark Schlosberg, Organizing Director at Food & Water Watch. We will be discussing the Global Frackdown, what the carbon tax really means, the...

  • 07-16-2014 Stop Global Warming

    Listen in this month as we review Rep. McDermott’s HR 4754 - Managed Carbon Price Act of 2014, make plans for the Sept 20 and 21 Global Day of Action, consider changing our standing meeting date, along with some open discussion. There will...

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