In Australia and many other countries, school students have been taking to the streets to demand their nation’s leaders take action on climate change.
But in America, perhaps in an effort to stop similar student protests, some politicians are working to introduce legislation that would allow teachers to dismiss the scientific consensus that global warming is man-made.
In Connecticut, a politician wants to strike climate change from state science standards. Meanwhile in Virginia, a legislator worries teachers are indoctrinating students with their personal views on global warming. And an Oklahoma state senator wants educators to be able to introduce alternative ideas without fear of losing their jobs.
Of the more than a dozen such measures proposed so far this year, some already have failed. But they have emerged this year in growing numbers, many of them inspired or directly encouraged by a pair of advocacy groups.
One group is The Heartland Institute, a conservative think-tank group based in Illinois best known for working with the tobacco company Philip Morris in the 1990s to attempt to discredit the health risks of smoking cigarettes.
The Heartland Institute does not disclose its funding sources.
Climate scientists have blasted such proposals for sowing confusion and doubt.
The efforts in North America to teach alternative theories to climate science follow high-profile protests by school students around the world.
Australian students striking for climate change want adults to join them for a global event on March 15, and organisers say they already have support from a growing number of unions.
Despite the criticism strikers copped from Prime Minister Scott Morrison for skipping classes last year, school students around Australia are planning to walk out of school again for another rally ahead of the federal election.
This time they are also urging adults to back the strike and also walk out for the day in solidarity.
This year’s event is already being supported by a growing number of unions including the National Union of Workers, National Tertiary Education Union, United Firefighters Union, Hospo Voice, the Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association and the National Union of Students.
The National Union of Workers, one of the most powerful unions in the Labor Party and part of its right-wing faction that supports Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, said it was supporting the strike and the students standing together collectively for their future.
“They are inspiring leaders, and we support them in making our political leaders listen,” the union said.
More than 300 academics have also signed an open letter in solidarity with the student strikers supporting their stance against Adani’s Carmichael mine and a ban on gas mining.
The strikes created headlines last year when more than 15,000 students took the day off school to protest the lack of action on climate change, rallying in public spaces in Melbourne, Sydney and about 30 other cities and towns in Australia.
This year’s event, coming ahead of the federal election, is expected to be even bigger with organisers telling news.com.au students are extending an open invitation to everyone in the community to join them.
The school strike is gaining traction around the world. Australia’s March 15 event will also coincide with school protests in more than 40 other countries.