United States: In Texas, textbooks in the crosshairs of climate deniers

Like OPEC and COP28 Managing Director Majid al-Suwaidi in Texas, the largest energy producer in the United States, blaming fossil fuels for the climate crisis does not go unnoticed. Conservative climate skeptics have decided to go after textbooks that talk about this issue.

Textbooks USA AP - Harkim Wright Sr.

By: Thomas Harms Follow


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From our correspondent in Houston,

The school is the terrain of the cultural battle, in Texas, as in other U.S. states run by conservatives. The Texas Board of Education, which approves curricula and textbooks, decided a few weeks ago to exclude several science textbooks deemed too biased. According to the members of this council, "the climate issue should not scare students or offer an overly negative view of the oil and gas industry."

Textbooks should also not teach future scientists that humans have a negative impact on the environment. Julie Pricken, a member of the Texas Board of Education, said in a public discussion: "These books offer only one aspect, which is then applied throughout the teaching of science to children. Namely, that the climate crisis is man's fault.


A controversial topic in political circles

Since 2022, new ultra-conservative Republican members have been elected and have polarized the debate. Thus, of the fifteen elected members of the Council, ten are conservatives, two work in hydrocarbons, and several say they do not believe in the reality of the climate issue.

Yet there is a scientific consensus on human CO2 emissions and climate change, even in Texas. David Yeomas, a meteorologist in Austin, said: "It's not something that's debated in the scientific world, it's just a controversial issue in politics. Teaching children about climate change is on the same level as teaching them about gravity, or addition and subtraction. These are proven scientific facts. It's not a question of camp, for or against something.


Read alsoFossil fuels in the hot seat for the second week of COP28

Climate and Theory of Evolution Removed from Textbooks

So what is the influence of the Board of Education's decision? In order for the books to be accepted, publishers had to make emergency changes by erasing climate issues or human impacts, but also by modifying pages on the theory of evolution. Because religious creationism still has a great influence in this state. In total this year, eight out of twenty-two textbooks were excluded, some of which were used in a large portion of Texas schools. This decision of the Board of Education is valid for eight years.

The Council's decision does not oblige one to choose a particular manual, it merely facilitates the obtaining of State subsidies. It is important to know that the United States does not have a national curriculum, education is a matter settled at the state level, the school district level, and even at the school level. But choosing a censored textbook and thus drawing a line under a subsidy is a decision that is not very popular.

Read alsoIn American schools, conservative Christians are waging the book war

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