PERC and CEI Launch New Series of Environmental Books
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Two educational and research organizations have initiated a new series of books for young people called “Critical Thinking about Environmental Issues.” Unlike many environmental books found in schools today, this series offers objective and balanced discussions of controversial issues in an attractive and readable format. The books were prepared by PERC?the Center for Free Market Environmentalism?and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The series of five books includes Endangered Species, Global Warming, Pesticides, Forest Fires, and Energy. The publisher is Greenhaven Press, recognized for its library books on topical issues for students from grades three to twelve.
Evidence that environmental education has gone awry has been accumulating since the early 1990s, when parents began to notice that their children came home from school with strange ideas about the natural world. Students condemned their parents for normal behavior such as driving cars or having a job as a logger. Students worried about cities being flooded by rising seas because of global warming or feared that rain was as acidic as lemon juice.
Subsequent studies confirmed that many widely used textbooks are riddled with inaccurate science, an emphasis on advocacy, and unbalanced descriptions of potential environmental risks.
To fill the need for objectivity, Greenhaven Press cooperated with PERC and the Competitive Enterprise Institute to initiate this series. Greenhaven is part of the Gale Group, a division of Thomson Learning.
Each book squarely addresses the controversies surrounding its topic. For example, Endangered Species, by Randy T. Simmons, explores the difficulties of knowing how many species are actually endangered, looks at various efforts being made to save species, and raises the question of whether there is an underlying conflict, “species vs. people,” that obstructs the resolution of problems.
In Global Warming, Jane S. Shaw examines the issue of whether the earth is warming, and, if so, whether human activity is a cause. She discusses how scientists study these questions and explores the possible outcomes of government efforts to try to control global warming. In Pesticides, Samantha Beres weighs the costs and the benefits of pesticide use, both in agriculture and to fight disease, and discusses alternatives to current ways of using pesticides.
Forest Fires, by Linda Platts examines the issue of whether forest fires are a natural and necessary function to achieve healthy forests. She discusses the threat wildfires present to human life and property as well as the alternatives to fire such logging and thinning the forests. She discusses how scientists are exploring the question of whether fires should be allowed to burn and risks to human health.
Jane S. Shaw and Manuel Nikel-Zueger use their book Energy to explore the possibility that we are running out of energy such as oil and consider what alternative types of energy are available. They examine whether our current forms of energy can be harmful to human health and how government policies influence our use of energy.
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