As the Associated Press reports, a New Jersey high school senior has raised concerns about a right-wing screed being passed off as a college-level government textbook. Student Matthew LaClair of Kearny, NJ — whose AP Goverment class uses American Goverment — “was particularly upset about the book’s treatment of global warming.”
The book’s authors James Q. Wilson and John DiIulio Jr. claim that “the scientific community is divided over the issue,” and “activist scientists say that the earth is getting warmer; skeptical ones note that the earth’s atmosphere has been getting cooler.” Environmentalists are portrayed as “elites who often base their arguments on ideology as much as facts” and “raise money with scary statements about the harm global warming will cause.”
The authors go even further, under the heading “The Environmental Uncertainties:”
Science doesn’t know whether we are experiencing a dangerous level of global warming or how bad the greenhouse effect is, if it exists at all. [p. 569]
The authors of “American Government” are conservative ideologues with strong ties to the Bush administration:
— James Q. Wilson is the Ronald Reagan Professor for Public Policy at Pepperdine University and the chairman of the Council of Academic Advisors of American Enterprise Institute, the premier Bush-Exxon think tank.
— John DiIulio Jr., a University of Pennsylvania professor, was the first head of Bush’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Famous for his now-recanted prediction that America would be overrun by “superpredator” criminal teenagers in the 1990s, DiIulio has also been a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, another Bush-Exxon think tank.
After being notified by LaClair, the Center for Inquiry detailed the book’s lies about global warming, school prayer, same-sex marriage, the influence of original sin on the Constitution’s framers, and more. Their scathing critique is forcing the book’s publisher, Houghton Mifflin, and the College Board, who runs the Advanced Placement program, to review the book, now in its eleventh edition.
UPDATE: This is not the first time LaClair has made news; he taped a history teacher preaching Biblical fundamentalism in 2006 and protested Bush by not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance in 2005.
UPDATE II: Friends of the Earth has just announced an e-mail campaign to Houghton Mifflin. They note esteemed climate scientists Dr. James Hansen and Dr. Michael MacCracken have already written to the publisher.
EXCERPTS from “American Government”:
page 560: Some politicians say that ‘all’ or ‘almost all’ scientists know that globaln warming will occur in ways that hurt humankind. In fact neither all nor almost all scientists believe this theory. The scientific community is divided over the issue. Most scientists agree that the earth has gotten a bit warmer over the past century. But from there on profound disagreements exist. Activist scientists say that the earth is getting warmer; skeptical ones note that the earth’s atmosphere has been getting cooler. Activists say that fossil-fuel gases are making the earth warmer; skeptics rejoin that the earth’s temperature regularly changes from natural causes, such as changes in the sun’s production of heat. Activists say that the sea will rise because of melting ice caps; skeptics respond that the ice caps are not melting. Activists say that their computer models prove that the earth will get warmer in the future; skeptics rejoin that these models can‘t even explain temperature changes that have occurred in the past. Activists say that a warmer earth will be bad for humankind; skeptics say that a warmer earth will make it easier to grow crops and feed people. Activists say that we should act now, despite scientific doubts; skeptics say that we should learn more before doing anything.
Page 560-61: As with most kinds of entrepreneurial politics, global warming has resulted in a conflict among elites who often base their arguments on ideology as much as facts. Environmental activists raise money with scary statements about the harm global warming will cause; conservatives raise money with scary statements about the economic pain an American cut in greenhouse gases will cause. But given the popularity of ‘the environment’ as an issue, the activists dominate the discussion, and politicians can only with great difficulty criticize their claims.
Page 569 [under the heading “The Environmental Uncertainties”]: Science doesn’t know whether we are experiencing a dangerous level of global warming or how bad the greenhouse effect is, if it exists at all.