How Climate Change Is Taught in America

Why are so many American children learning misinformation about climate change?

Investigative reporter Katie Worth reviewed scores of textbooks, built a 50-state database, and traveled to a dozen communities to talk to children and teachers about what is being taught about climate change in America’s public schools. She found a red-blue divide in climate education. More than one-third of young adults believe that climate change is not man-made, and no wonder—that’s what they are taught in school.

Who has tried to influence what children learn, and how successful have they been? Worth connects the dots: oil corporations, state legislatures, school boards, libertarian think tanks, conservative lobbyists, and textbook publishers, all of whom have learned from previous fights over evolution and tobacco. They are now sowing uncertainty, confusion, and distrust about climate science. Four in five Americans today don’t think there is a scientific consensus on global warming. In the words of a top climate educator, “We are the only country in the world that has had a multi-decade, multi-billion dollar deny-delay-confuse campaign.” Miseducation is the alarming story of how climate denialism is being implanted in millions of school children.

“Exceptional reporting undergirds the truly shocking facts in this book: the fossil fuel industry is doing all that it can to undermine education about climate change, which will be the most important fact in the lifetimes of kids in school today.” —Bill McKibben


This book was written with the support of FRONTLINE and The GroundTruth Project


Read CGR Director Nicholas Lemann’s Letter to the Reader

  • ISBN: 9781735913643
  • Price: $16.00
  • E-book ISBN: 9781735913650
  • On Sale: November 16, 2021
  • Pages: 184


“Exceptional reporting undergirds the truly shocking facts in this book: the fossil fuel industry is doing all that it can to undermine education about climate change, which will be the most important fact in the lifetimes of kids in school today. Thank heaven for the teachers who stand up for the truth—and thank heaven that this book will spark a crucial national conversation about the hijacking of our educational system.” —Bill McKibben

Miseducation is a cautionary tale of the wide-ranging impacts that political agendas can have when deployed in educational settings.” Science

“A striking look at how climate change is taught in American primary and secondary schools.” Publishers Weekly ★ starred review

“A damning report on the state of science education in America, especially regarding climate change.” Kirkus Reviews

“A must read for parents and teachers.” Moms Clean Air Force

Miseducation documents many cracks in American climate education while offering educators models for improving their engagement with students and communities. And in expanding the definition of ‘good climate education’ to include students’ civic development, the book transmits a heightened sense of urgency.” The Elective

“Through a deft combination of interviews and extensive research, Worth, an award-winning investigative journalist, pillories major textbook companies for privileging markets over science and criticizes school districts for uncritically accepting tendentious booklets and videos from fossil fuel firms.” CHOICE

“Boy, do we need this book now. As the looming climate catastrophe introduces itself by fire and flood, as the world's leaders need a sense of public urgency to make some hard choices, Katie Worth discovers widespread climate denialism in our nation's schools. Ignorance of the scientific consensus, ideological pressure, fossil-fuel industry disinformation, and a well-meaning but misguided desire to tell ‘both sides’—it is a disheartening story, richly reported, clearly told and (we can only hope) just in time.” —Bill Keller, founding editor of the Marshall Project, and author of What's Prison For?

“In her meticulously researched and vividly written book, Katie Worth provides a detailed, comprehensive, and often enraging examination of the forces that obstruct climate change education in the United States through denial, doubt, and delay. But she also offers a glimmer of hope. Miseducation is essential reading for anybody who cares about the climate.” —Glenn Branch, deputy director, National Center for Science Education

“Climate change is an unprecedented threat to our global community, and the frontlines of our efforts to address that threat are in the nation’s classrooms where clearheaded, well-informed educators can provide the coming generation with the facts about its causes and likely consequences. But what if those classrooms have been infiltrated by bad actors? In this engagingly written and important book, Katie Worth reveals how the science education that might save us has been influenced by partisan politics and special interests putting the future of us all at risk.” —John L. Rudolph, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and author of How We Teach Science: What’s Changed, and Why It Matters

“Young people horrified about climate change are standing up against fossil fuel companies and governments the world over. Amid this global youth uprising, Katie Worth reveals in horrifying detail the ways in which children in American schools are being methodically—and oftentimes successfully—targeted with climate misinformation designed to keep profits and pollution from oil, coal and gas flowing. This deeply reported book names names and reveals filthy secrets and should be essential reading for anybody concerned for the future of humanity.” —John Upton, editor at Climate Central

“Katie Worth’s Miseducation explores an under-appreciated but extremely important aspect of our climate crisis: the active mis-education around climate change in American schools. She explains how conservative politicians, well-funded right-wing foundations, and frightened textbook publishers, have watered down, eliminated or confused the ways the issue is presented to tens of millions of school children. They hope to raise another generation that will fail to act on what may be the greatest threat to our future. But, as Worth shows, efforts by committed educators has led to some real progress and represents reasons for hope.” —Alexander Stille, San Paolo Professor of International Journalism at Columbia, author of The Force of Things: A Marriage in War and Peace


Kids are living with climate catastrophe. That doesn’t mean they believe in it. — Washington Post

How the Oil and Gas Industry Has Broken Climate Education — Slate

Give Them the Facts: An interview with Katie Worth — Commonweal

Texas Students are Receiving a Miseducation on Climate Change — Texas Observer

Kids and Climate Change: Who’s Learning What—or Not—and Why? — FRONTLINE

Many US students won’t find accurate climate science in their textbooks — Popular Science

Kids and Climate Change: An interview with Katie Worth — The Revelator

Denial of climate change implanted in American education system — Marquette University O’Brien Fellowship

Public schools are failing students on climate change — Grist

Author seeks climate change curriculum — Enterprise Record

Climate change in the classroom — Science Magazine

Author Interview with Katie Worth — Book Culture

Subverting Climate Science in the Classroom — Scientific American

TV, Radio & Podcasts

We Did Start the Fire — This American Life

“Miseducation”: How Fossil Fuel Lobbyists Push Climate Denialism to Kids in U.S. Schools — Democracy Now!

Journalist Katie Worth on climate education and corporate influences — On Point

A Red-Blue Divide in Teaching Climate: An interview with Katie Worth — Inside Climate News

A Hostile Climate — The Commonweal Podcast

The ABCs of Oil | Katie Worth on the State of Climate Education in the U.S. — Drilled

How Climate Change is Taught in America — Harvard EdCast

Kids Don’t Always Believe in Climate Science. Are Schools Miseducating Them? — EdSurge Podcast

Katie Worth, author of Miseducation — Bigger Than Us

Miseducation and Climate Change — Deep Background with Noah Feldman

MetroFocus: November 18, 2021 — MetroFocus

Miseducation: How Climate Change is Taught in America — In the Moment

Are schools doing enough to prepare kids to meet the challenges of the warming world they’ll inherit? — The Source

An investigative reporter details the effects of climate change disinformation in public education — Speakers Forum

The Problem With Climate Change Education in the U.S. — Blue Dot

What Should Schools Do About Climate Change? — Have You Heard

Climate Miseducation w/ Katie Worth — Talk Nerdy

Climate Misinformation Persists in New Middle School Textbooks — Scientific American

Climate Education Resources


CLEAN / cleanet.org — A collection of legitimate and free climate resources

ClimeTime / climetime.org — Programs for Washington state

National Center for Science Education / ncse.ngo/supporting-teachers

Aspen Institute / aspeninstitute.org/topics/public-education

Action for the Climate Emergency / acespace.org

Sierra Club / sierraclub.org/climate-parents

Paleontological Research Institution / priweb.org

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Admin / noaa.gov/educational-resources

NOAA Climate.gov / climate.gov/teaching

NASA / climate.nasa.gov/resources/education


Miseducation: A Roundtable Discussion on How Climate Change Is Taught in America with FRONTLINE and The GroundTruth Project / watch the video

Katie Worth with Bill Keller at Harvard Book Store / watch the video

Katie Worth with Glenn Branch at Third Place Books / watch the video

About the author

Katie Worth
© Emma Varsanyi

Katie Worth is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow Award–winning investigative journalist. From 2015 to 2021, she worked for the PBS series FRONTLINE on enterprise investigations and multimedia stories about science and politics. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, National Geographic, Slate, The Wall Street Journal, and was included in The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2016@katieworth