News and Commentary

Portland School Board Goes Full Book-Burning Over Climate Change-Denying Books

Portland, Oregon’s public school board has voted to ban certain books from the classroom for one simple reason: the books express doubt about the veracity of climate change. Any book that has the temerity to doubt climate change or posit that if it does exist, it is not the result of man must be excised from the city’s classrooms.

The board stated:

There is overwhelming consensus in the scientific community that the climate crisis is created by human beings releasing greenhouse gases by mining and burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas); through deforestation; and with environmentally damaging agricultural practices. It is essential that in their classes and other school activities students probe the causes and consequences of the climate crisis—as well as possible solutions—in developmentally appropriate ways, and, from pre-K through 12th grade, become “climate literate”…

But that’s not all for the fervent believers; the board insists that school staff create an implementation plan for “curriculum and educational opportunities that address climate change and climate justice in all Portland Public Schools.”

The public school board is ignoring a countervailing opinion in its own back yard; the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine is circulating a petition which states: “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” That petition has garnered 32,000 signers, 9,000 of whom have their Ph.D.s.

One former Portland public school teacher spearheading the resolution passed by the school board, Bill Bigelow, just so happens to have published his own textbook, titled, A People’s Curriculum for the Earth. Still, he protested to the Portland Tribune that his motives weren’t selfish, stating: “A lot of the text materials are kind of thick with the language of doubt, and obviously the science says otherwise. We don’t want kids in Portland learning material courtesy of the fossil fuel industry. What we’re asking for is not: Buy new stuff. What we’re looking for is a whole different model of curriculum development and distribution.”

“It is essential that in their classes and other school activities students probe the causes and consequences of the climate crisis …”

Portland Public Schools

Bigelow added that he thought PPS’ science textbooks left doubt in students’ minds about the validity of climate change by using words such as “might,” “may” and “could,” quoting Physical Science, published by Pearson, as writing, “Carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles, power plants and other sources, may contribute to global warming.” Bigelow snapped, “This is a section that could be written by the Exxon public relations group and it’s being taught in Portland schools.”

For a comprehensive assault on the falsity of “climate change,” see here.