Backlash challenges green 'nonsense'

10th October 1997 at 01:00
The fightback against green politics reached the UK with claims this week that British pupils are being "indoctrinated with environmental nonsense", writes Nicolas Barnard.

Environmental Education, published by right-wing think-tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, concludes that many UK and American school textbooks are inaccurate and heavily biased, teaching doctrine instead of encouraging debate.

It won swift rebuke from educationists. Libby Grundy at the Council for Environmental Education said the subject was actually about "enabling young people to deal with the reality of bias and information which surrounds them".

The IEA promotes market forces as a solution to environmental problems. Authors Benjamin Aldrich-Moodie and Jo Kwong challenge prevailing orthodoxies such as global warming and the benefits of recycling, saying many discussions are based on outdated theories or research and lack basic economic reasoning.

They argue that most of scientists' predictions in recent years have proved wrong. Other sacred cows they challenge include desertification and acid rain.

Growing pressure from right-wingers and industry has seen environmental educationists in the US become more cautious about their classroom messages.

The CEE is also working with industry and environmental groups on a Government-funded code of practice, partly to help teachers find their way through the mass of material produced both by campaigners and by businesses.

The IEA book says textbooks rarely talk of the "significant improvements" in environment that developed countries have seen in the past 20 years.

"Doomsday scenarios and indoctrination should be replaced with scientific reasoning: how to collect data, how to develop theories and how to test such theories against the data," it argues.

Environmental Education is available from the Institute of Economic Affairs, 2 Lord North Street, London SW1P 3LB, price Pounds 10 including pp

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