By Brenda Ekwurzel

I have had the thrill of sharing the latest discoveries in the classroom with students who asked probing questions, when I was a faculty member of a university. That journey of discovery is one that parents and family members delight in hearing about when students come home and share what they have found particularly intriguing.


What if the information the student shared was not based on the best available evidence? Misinformation would begin to spread more widely. If corrected, the student might distrust the teacher who may have not known the source material was compromised.

This scenario is not fiction. It has happened and may still be occurring in some U.S. schools. Anyone concerned about this can learn more with an update forthcoming from those who keep track—the National Center for Science Education (NCSE).

According to the NCSE, during October 2013 educators received a packet chock full of misinformation about climate change. The report includes an abbreviation that looked similar to a highly respected source—the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—for international climate assessments.

It has happened again (starting in March 2017). Many teachers found a packet in their mailbox with a report from the same group that spread the misinformation back in October 2013. This report has a "second edition" gold highlight with a cover image of water flowing over a dam and a misleading title.

The report runs counter to the agreement among scientists who publish on climate change in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. More than 97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is caused by human activities.

The Heartland Institute is infamous for its rejection of climate science and unsavory tactics. According to a reported statement by the CEO of Heartland Institute, they plan to keep sending out copies to educators over the weeks ahead.

If you see any student or teacher with this report or DVD please let NCSE know about it and share what you have learned to help stop the spread.

Brenda Ekwurzel is a senior climate scientist and the director of climate science at the Union of Concerned Scientists.