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Now, here is what the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has
<http://www.nsta.org/pressroom%26news_story_ID=52977>At 03:05 PM
11/30/2006, you wrote:
> *Science a la Joe Camel*
> By Laurie David
> Washington Post
> Sunday, November 26, 2006; B01
> At hundreds of screenings this year of "An Inconvenient Truth," the
> first thing many viewers said after the lights came up was that every
> student in every school in the United States needed to see this movie.
> The producers of former vice president Al Gore's film about global
> warming, myself included, certainly agreed. So the company that made
> the documentary decided to offer 50,000 free DVDs to the National
> Science Teachers Association (NSTA) for educators to use in their
> classrooms. It seemed like a no-brainer.
> The teachers had a different idea: Thanks but no thanks, they said.
> In their e-mail rejection, they expressed concern that other "special
> interests" might ask to distribute materials, too; they said they
> didn't want to offer "political" endorsement of the film; and they saw
> "little, if any, benefit to NSTA or its members" in accepting the free
> Gore, however, is not running for office, and the film's theatrical
> run is long since over. As for classroom benefits, the movie has been
> enthusiastically endorsed by leading climate scientists worldwide, and
> is required viewing for all students in Norway and Sweden.
> Still, maybe the NSTA just being extra cautious. But there was one
> more curious argument in the e-mail: Accepting the DVDs, they wrote,
> would place "unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign,
> especially certain targeted supporters." One of those supporters, it
> turns out, is the Exxon Mobil Corp.
> That's the same Exxon Mobil that for more than a decade has done
> everything possible to muddle public understanding of global warming
> and stifle any serious effort to solve it. It has run ads in leading
> newspapers (including this one) questioning the role of manmade
> emissions in global warming, and financed the work of a small band of
> scientific skeptics who have tried to challenge the consensus that
> heat-trapping pollution is drastically altering our atmosphere. The
> company spends millions to support groups such as the Competitive
> Enterprise Institute that aggressively pressure lawmakers to oppose
> emission limits.
> It's bad enough when a company tries to sell junk science to a bunch
> of grown-ups. But, like a tobacco company using cartoons to peddle
> cigarettes, Exxon Mobil is going after our kids, too.
> And it has been doing so for longer than you may think. NSTA says it
> has received $6 million from the company since 1996, mostly for the
> association's "Building a Presence for Science" program, an electronic
> networking initiative intended to "bring standards-based teaching and
> learning" into schools, according to the NSTA Web site. Exxon Mobil
> has a representative on the group's corporate advisory board. And in
> 2003, NSTA gave the company an award for its commitment to science
> So much for special interests and implicit endorsements.
> In the past year alone, according to its Web site, Exxon Mobil's
> foundation gave $42 million to key organizations that influence the
> way children learn about science, from kindergarten until they
> graduate from high school.
> And Exxon Mobil isn't the only one getting in on the action. Through
> textbooks, classroom posters and teacher seminars, the oil industry,
> the coal industry and other corporate interests are exploiting
> shortfalls in education funding by using a small slice of their record
> profits to buy themselves a classroom soapbox.
> NSTA's list of corporate donors also includes Shell Oil and the
> American Petroleum Institute (API), which funds NSTA's Web site on the
> science of energy. There, students can find a section called "Running
> on Oil" and read a page that touts the industry's environmental track
> record -- citing improvements mostly attributable to laws that the
> companies fought tooth and nail, by the way -- but makes only vague
> references to spills or pollution. NSTA has distributed a video
> produced by API called "You Can't Be Cool Without Fuel," a shameless
> pitch for oil dependence.
> The education organization also hosts an annual convention -- which is
> described on Exxon Mobil's Web site as featuring "more than 450
> companies and organizations displaying the most current textbooks, lab
> equipment, computer hardware and software, and teaching enhancements."
> The company "regularly displays" its "many . . . education materials"
> at the exhibition. John Borowski, a science teacher at North Salem
> High School in Salem, Ore., was dismayed by NSTA's partnerships with
> industrial polluters when he attended the association's annual
> convention this year and witnessed hundreds of teachers and school
> administrators walk away with armloads of free corporate lesson plans.
> Along with propaganda challenging global warming from Exxon Mobil, the
> curricular offerings included lessons on forestry provided by
> Weyerhaeuser and International Paper, Borowski says, and the benefits
> of genetic engineering courtesy of biotech giant Monsanto.
> "The materials from the American Petroleum Institute and the other
> corporate interests are the worst form of a lie: omission," Borowski
> says. "The oil and coal guys won't address global warming, and the
> timber industry papers over clear-cuts."
> An API memo leaked to the media as long ago as 1998 succinctly
> explains why the association is angling to infiltrate the classroom:
> "Informing teachers/students about uncertainties in climate science
> will begin to erect barriers against further efforts to impose
> Kyoto-like measures in the future."
> So, how is any of this different from showing Gore's movie in the
> classroom? The answer is that neither Gore nor Participant
> Productions, which made the movie, stands to profit a nickel from
> giving away DVDs, and we aren't facing millions of dollars in lost
> business from limits on global-warming pollution and a shift to
> cleaner, renewable energy.
> It's hard to say whether NSTA is a bad guy here or just a sorry victim
> of tight education budgets. And we don't pretend that a two-hour movie
> is a substitute for a rigorous science curriculum. Students should
> expect, and parents should demand, that educators present an honest
> and unbiased look at the true state of knowledge about the challenges
> of the day.
> As for Exxon Mobil -- which just began a fuzzy advertising campaign
> that trumpets clean energy and low emissions -- this story shows that
> slapping green stripes on a corporate tiger doesn't change the beast
> within. The company is still playing the same cynical game it has for
> While NSTA and Exxon Mobil ponder the moral lesson they're teaching
> with all this, there are 50,000 DVDs sitting in a Los Angeles
> warehouse, waiting to be distributed. In the meantime, Mom and Dad may
> want to keep a sharp eye on their kids' science homework.
> /firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>
> /Laurie David, a producer of "An Inconvenient Truth," is a Natural
> Resources Defense Council trustee and founder of StopGlobalWarming.org./
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