Environmental Education

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This original piece of research examines the teaching of environmental issues in the UK and US. Looking at a variety of textbooks and how specific issues are taught, they find that the teaching of the environment is characterised by bad science, sloppy thinking and indoctrination.

Executive Summary

In both the US and the UK, children are being presented with biased information about the environment.

Popular UK textbooks frequently present controversial theories, such as human-induced global warming, as fact.

Recent scientific evidence is often omitted. For example, children are presented with outdated studies citing acid rain as a major factor in lake acidification and forest decline, while more recent studies contradicting that view are ignored.

In the UK some textbooks aim for a more balanced discussion but are constrained by National Curriculum requirements to address specious issues such as 'desertificaiton'.

The popular misconception of an environmental problem oftern becomes the basis for classroom presentations, thereby perpetuating inaccuracy.

Basic economic reasoning is lacking in many discussions. For example, children are taught there is a finite bundle of natural resources we must conserve lest we use it all up, without regard to the role of pricing, supply and demand, or economic trade-offs.

In the US, children are taught the prevailing view of issues before they can understand the underlying science and economics. For example, they are told that 'recycling is good' before they even know what a resource is or what recycling means.

This 'issues' teaching precludes rational debate and stym