A Third of U.S. Teachers Tell Students Climate Change Is Natural, Totally Natural

And twelve percent of teachers don't emphasize any human causes for global warming.


A first-of-its kind study has found denial of human-caused climate change starts with teachers. Titled “Climate confusion among U.S. teachers” and published today in the journal Science, the study surveyed 1,500 teachers in middle- and high-school.

Here’s what they found:

  • 30 percent of teachers tell students recent global warming “is likely due to natural causes.”
  • 12 percent of teachers do not emphasize any human causes.

You might wonder if this isn’t the influence of the parents or the administrators, like a politically charged school board that insists science classes offer the alternative of creationism. But in this case, the study finds the more likely cause is ignorance.

The teachers who aren’t very knowledgeable about carbon dioxide from the ice cores report almost no external pressure to present climate change data one way or another.

Teachers were also presented with this question: What percentage of scientists think climate change is man-made? (The correct answer is 95 percent). Yet, just 30 percent of middle school teachers and 45 percent of high school teachers ticked the right option, “81 to 100 percent.”

Meanwhile, half of U.S. adults don’t believe climate change is connected to human causes.

As long as those figures stay the same, the debate on the environment is going to keep going for a very, very long time.

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