A national effort by a libertarian think tank to convince public school teachers that there is a division within the scientific community over whether human activity has accelerated global climate change is apparently having little to no effect in Maine.
In fact, at the Maine Education Association in Augusta, President Lois Kilby-Chesley says the DVDs and booklets sent out to about 25,000 teachers by the Illinois-based Heartland Institute are being used by faculty members as examples of how critical thinking can be used to debunk preposterous theories.
"This opportunity can be turned around and used in a different way maybe than what Heartland expected, but the teachers in Maine have standards that they're using to teach science with, and one is critical thinking," she says.
At the University of Maine's Climate Change Institute, director Paul Mayewski says the Heartland Institute materials only tell part of the story that's true — and a lot that he says is patently false.
"It's not true, they make statements that are absolutely not true, and then they're trying to convince science teachers that this other side of the story," he says. "To say that 'the other side of the story' is a minority story is even giving it more credibility than it should have."
According to the Heartland Institute, about 25,000 packages containing information that dismisses any human role in climate change were mailed out last week. The booklets state that rising temperatures are being caused primarily by natural phenomena rather than emissions and pollution.