The U.S. Department of Agriculture is spending $150,000 in an effort to change farmers who have a "skeptical" view of human-caused global warming.
The agency issued a grant to North Carolina State University to conduct an educational campaign for high school teachers to add more climate change material to their curriculums.
The target of the campaign is the agricultural community, which the project characterizes as cynical of anthropogenic climate change.
"Among the agricultural and natural resource sciences for climate variability and change, education is vital as it can increase climate change knowledge and risk perception, precursors to climate change action," the grant said. "Education is critical among the agricultural community because although climate change threatens agricultural sustainability, skepticism of anthropogenic climate change runs high."
The project is seeking to change that by "leveraging the power of younger generations."
"Reaching agricultural audiences can be challenging because worldview-driven biases can prevent agricultural professionals from engaging in adaptation or mitigation efforts," the grant said. "Providing worldview-compatible climate curricula to K-12 agricultural classrooms may be a key strategy. Agriculture teachers have considerable influence over future agricultural and natural resource professionals, and adolescents may be less susceptible to worldview-driven biases."
The study will recruit at least 40 high school teachers who will "integrate climate change topics into existing Agricultural Science curriculum." The researchers hope to reach 2,000 high school students in two years.
The project will also involve undergraduates at North Carolina State University, with the goal of increasing their "climate change knowledge."
The project began Jan. 1, and research will continue through December 2017. The university has received $149,997 so far.
If the project is correct that farmers are skeptical that human activity is the primary cause of climate change, they are in line with the majority of Americans. The Pew Research Center found in 2014 that 53 percent do not believe there is enough evidence and that "natural patterns" are causing climate change, not mankind.