Corporations Wrote a Law Requiring Climate Denial be Taught in School. Tennessee Just Passed It.

ilikecheese via Wikimidia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

Would you let corporations decide how climate science gets taught in your kids' classroom? That is exactly what is happening—Tennessee just became the 4th state to pass corporation-written laws dictating how global warming is taught in public schools. And they did it with ALEC.

The American Legislative Exchange Council represents one of the most pernicious trends in modern governance: the increasingly substantial extent to which corporations and wealthy individuals buy direct access to the policy-making process. ALEC may be little known at this point, despite being one of the targets of recent Occupy Wall Street protests, but it is already influencing just about every sphere of our lives.

ALEC Exposed, a group working to do exactly what its moniker would imply, sums it up thusly: "Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights. These so-called "model bills" reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations." In other words, it's a pay-to-play regime that allows corporations to draft 'model bills' that go directly into the hands of sympathetic policymakers, who can then adopt them for actual legislation.

One such model bill has just passed the Tennessee state legislature, and this one mandates that schools teach climate science as a theory alongside other 'credible' theories—like those ones preferred by fossil fuels companies, for example, that hold that global warming is caused by solar cycles and other nonsense. Sound familiar? This is the same structural tactic employed by creationists to try to discourage the teaching of evolution in schools.

DeSmogBlog explains that the bill was opposed by almost every respectable scientific institution—and was passed by a margin of 70-23 anyway. Tennessee joins Texas, Louisiana, and South Dakota in passing such 'model' legislation. As a result, children in each of these states are apt to receive a confusing, less fact-based climate science education. Of course, climate change is widely accepted by scientists; an overwhelming consensus agree that human activity is indeed causing the planet to warm. But many corporations, especially those in the oil and coal industries, have an acute interest in stirring as much doubt as possible amongst the public about that consensus view.

So, with ALEC facilitating the process, those corporations get a stab at molding our childrens' science education into curriculum that portrays their activities in a fundamentally more sympathetic light. In short, the whole operation is twisted—and it's a cancer to democracy itself.

Tags: Congress | Global Climate Change | Oil | Tennessee

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