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Florida's PragerU curriculum could distort the facts of climate change

Florida has approved content from conservative group PragerU to be used in public schools.
Florida's PragerU curriculum could distort the facts of climate change
Posted at 5:26 PM, Aug 08, 2023

Recently approved curriculum in Florida schools may include content from a prominent conservative group that misleads or distorts the factual basis of climate change.

Florida in July approved the use of videos from conservative advocacy group PragerU in civics and government curriculum in public schools. 

An analysis of PragerU's content by E&E News finds that depending on how they're categorized, videos about climate change may be included in this curriculum.

Researchers who study PragerU's work say the videos often give extreme right-wing ideas a platform of misleading rhetoric. The takeaways from videos are often delivered by authority figures in a way that makes the ideas more appealing or convincing.

PragerU's climate content has a history of misleading by downplaying the factual evidence of global climate change.

One animated video, published in July of 2023, tells the story of a teenager in Poland who approaches her parents with concerns about the climate impacts of fossil fuels.

Her parents reassure her, raising points that are often espoused by today's fossil fuel industry:

"They encourage her to consider how the planet has been warming and cooling since prehistoric times, long before carbon emissions were a factor," the video's narrator says. "Can she explain that?"

"They ask her if everyone in Poland stops using coal, will that lower Earth's temperature? Especially when countries like China and India burn many times the amount of coal as Poland, and are not cutting back."

SEE MORE: UN: 'The era of global boiling has arrived'

"The science is actually contrary to what most educational institutions that have been really controlled by one ideology are saying,” PragerU CEO Marissa Streit said in an interview with E&E News. "There is debate about the severity of the changing of the climate as well as the pragmatic solutions."

Decades of scientific evidence from expert groups all over the world show that human activity, primarily our use of fossil fuels, has directly warmed the planet. This contributes to effects such as changed extremes of rainfall and flooding, acidified oceans and extended heat waves.

"Since systematic scientific assessments began in the 1970s, the influence of human activity on the warming of the climate system has evolved from theory to established fact," the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change writes. The panel says it's "unequivocal" that "human influence is the principal driver of many changes observed across the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and biosphere."

Florida is the first state to approve the use of PragerU's video content in the classroom.

Streit says the group intends to expand its curriculum offerings into as many states as possible, including into accredited courses in high schools. She says the group expects to soon announce that more states have adopted its curriculum offerings.

SEE MORE: New research explains how climate change is driving recent heat waves

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