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Press Release

    The Rejected Textbook

    11/19/2001

    Daniel Chiras' textbook ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE is, as he states, "unlike most other textbooks" (p.6). He is right; it does differ from all the other textbooks that the Texas State Board of Education reviewed in that the entire construct of Chiras' book is based on a factual error and a false premise. To understand the root error, all we need to do is to look at the book's preface and first chapter. In the preface Chiras states, "The main theme of this book is that the long-term well-being of this planet and its inhabitants is in jeopardy and that to create an enduring human presence we must make a massive course change" (p. vi). To support this theme, he loses all objectivity on environmental science and turns his book into an advocacy for environmentalism.

    In the opening pages of his book, Chiras states:

    "We must RETHINK and RESTRUCTURE basic human systems." (p. v);

    "This struggle will involve efforts to REVAMP human systems." ( p. vi);

    "These chapters elaborate...ideas that will help us REVAMP modern society one system at a time"(p. vi);

    "I attempt to show how we can REVAMP some of the vital human systems." (p.vi);

    "This effort could dramatically RESHAPE basic human systems" (p. 6);

    "Its emphasis would be on RESTRUCTURING basic human systems."(p. 8);

    "In this book, I will discuss ways we can REVAMP these systems to reduce or eliminate environmental problems." (p. 8);

    "The transition to sustainable society will require fundamental REDESIGN, deep changes that may take a century or more to put into effect" (p. 8);

    "Sustainable development could conceivably RESHAPE human civilization" (p. 10).

    [I added emphasis (in caps) to all the above words that start with the "re-" prefix.]

    These quotes demonstrate his belief in the need for a "massive course change" which, he states, is the major theme of this book. Why does he believe in all this incredibly drastic action?

    The answer is found in the preface of the book where Chiras also states that he has discovered "that most environmental problems spring from a common set of root causes. This book discusses the common root causes and ways to address them" (p. v). Thus, his entire book is focused on addressing what he identifies as the root causes; and this is the key to understanding the rejection of this book for factual errors. What if he is factually wrong about the root causes? If he is wrong there, then the entire construct of this book is in error. What are his root causes? He states, "...there are a number of fundamental driving forces-or root causes-that have created the present conditions. Two of the most important are continuing growth in both economic output and population" (p. 5).

    Chiras fundamentally believes our present civilization and its economic system of free enterprise capitalism need to be replaced and that we need to seek "a new economic system that is kind to the Earth" (p. 9). He advocates a system like what "Native American cultures and indigenous peoples the world over have espoused...and lived accordingly for thousands of years" (p.9). Is this statement factually correct? Do the economic growth systems that have developed in Western Christian civilization need to be replaced? Is economic growth the root cause of environmental problems?

    If Chiras is correct, then we would expect to find the worst environmental conditions in the most civilized Western countries. What do we find? In fact, we find just the opposite to be true. It is also interesting that economic growth seems to stabilize excessive population growth-his other important root cause. The Western Christian civilization countries are the cleanest and have the most stable population growths in the world.

    Thus, the entire textbook, in its construct, is flawed by a grievous factual error. The claim that the root cause of environmental problems is economic growth is simply wrong. In this analysis I have dealt only with the early foundational pages which describe the construct of the book. The rest of the book magnifies this early flaw. This book is not an environmental science textbook but a resource book for one side in the debate on environmentalism.