Climate change skepticism seeps into science classrooms

Climate change skepticism seeps into science classrooms

Although scientific evidence increasingly shows that fossil fuel consumption has caused the climate to change rapidly, the issue has grown so politicized that skepticism of the broad scientific consensus has seeped into classrooms.

Texas and Louisiana have introduced education standards that require educators to teach climate change denial as a valid scientific position. South Dakota and Utah passed resolutions denying climate change. Tennessee and Oklahoma also have introduced legislation to give climate change skeptics a place in the classroom.

In May, a school board in Los Alamitos, Calif., passed a measure, later rescinded, identifying climate science as a controversial topic that required special instructional oversight.

"Any time we have a meeting of 100 teachers, if you ask whether they're running into pushback on teaching climate change, 50 will raise their hands," said Frank Niepold, climate education coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (external - login to view), who meets with hundreds of teachers annually. "We ask questions about how sizable it is, and they tell us it is [sizable] and pretty persistent, from many places: your administration, parents, students, even your own family."

Against this backdrop, the National Center for Science Education, an Oakland-based watchdog group that supports the teaching of evolution through advocacy and educational materials, plans to announce on Monday that it will begin an initiative to monitor the teaching of climate science and evaluate the sources of resistance to it.

NCSE, a small, nonpartisan group of scientists, teachers, clergy and concerned individuals, rose to prominence in the last decade defending evolution in the curriculum.

The controversy around "climate change education is where evolution was 20 years ago," said Eugenie Scott, executive director of NCSE.

At that time, evolution — the long-tested scientific theory that varieties of life forms emerged through biological processes like natural selection and mutation — was patchily taught. Teaching standards have been developed since then, but it's unclear how widely evolution is taught, given teachers' fear of controversy.

Studies show that teachers often set aside evolution for fear of a backlash. Scott worries this could happen with climate science too.

"The question is self-censorship and intimidation. What you have to watch for is the 'hecklers' veto,' " she said. "If a teacher ignores a particular topic, it will likely go unnoticed."

Climate change skeptics like James Taylor (external - login to view), environmental policy fellow at the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank, said the pushback in schools and legislatures reflected public frustration at being told "only one side of the global warming debate — the scientifically controversial theory that humans are creating a global warming crisis."

"It is therefore not surprising that state legislatures are stepping in to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not spent in a manner that turns an important and ongoing scientific debate into a propaganda assault on impressionable students," Taylor said.

Climatologists say man-made climate change is not scientifically controversial.

Instruction on climate change is typically introduced in middle school earth science classes and in recently popular high school environmental science courses, often electives.

In 2007, science teachers said their greatest challenge was making climate change fit in with their curriculum, according to a survey by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, a joint project of NOAA and the University of Colorado at Boulder (external - login to view). By 2011, the biggest concern wasn't the curriculum but the controversy, said Susan Buhr, director of the education outreach arm for the institute.

Resistance to the scientific consensus breaks down mostly along regional lines, Buhr said, with greater pushback in the South and in regions where "livelihoods have been built on extractive industries" of fossil fuels.

Attacks on evolution come largely from conservative Christians who believe in a literal reading of the biblical creation story. Climate change denial is mostly rooted in political ideology, with foes decrying it as liberal dogma, teachers say. The NCSE's Scott said that made it much harder to use the courts to protect climate science education.

New national science standards for grades K-12 are due in December. The standards — based on a framework by the National Academy of Sciences and developed by a partnership of private industry and state governments — are expected to include climate change. But some science educators predict that could heat up local and state resistance in some areas.

"You could see more states or localities challenging the topic," said Niepold, who is familiar with the NCSE initiative. "Given the polarized nature of how people take this issue, having a community organization that looks at the issue could be valuable."

Climate change becomes a flash point in science education - (external - login to view)
#2  Top Rated Post
I would think that teaching kids to question scientific theories is part of, well, science.
Quote: Originally Posted by TenPennyView Post

I would think that teaching kids to question scientific theories is part of, well, science.

Yea, the article title is mixing up skepticism (which can be legitimate) with denialism (which is not).
+2 / -1
This is very good news. It's about time that schoolchildren were taught the truth that man-made Global Warming does not exist.

For 20 years now schoolkids have been brainwashed into believing that man-made Global Warming is real by a gullible education system which believes all the lies we have been told by the eco-mentalists. But now that evidence is emerging that many of the so-called "facts" about Global Warming are in fact nothing of the sort - such as the leaked emails from the University of East Anglia - the public are starting to realise that man-made Global Warming is not the threat that eco-mentalists would have us believe.

So, this is very good news and let's hope more schools stop teaching kids about Global Warming when, as I've said, more and more evidence is emerging that it doesn't exist. It's time we started teaching kids the FACTS, not a bunch of blatant lies and myths.
Skepticism is usually called denial by people who's belief are being questioned....

That applies to most religions
Quote: Originally Posted by DaSleeperView Post

Skepticism is usually called denial by people who's belief are being questioned....

Skepticism requires some kind of educated validation for an opposing point of view.

Abject denial is what is actually talked about in the article.

One leads to a scientific endeavor.. the other is Ben Stein.

Fake Economist Ben Stein Sues Company for Discriminating Against Global Warming Deniers

Corporate ***** Ben Stein, who claims to be an economist but is really a commercial actor with an undergraduate degree in economics (external - login to view), has sued Japanese electronics firm Kyocera for violating his "freedom of religion" (external - login to view) by not hiring him as a pitchman because he denies the reality of global warming. This man lives his Republican values to the hilt.

According to the complaint (external - login to view), filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Kyocera approached Stein in December 2010 to inquire as to his availability to appear in TV advertisements for Kyocera printers. Stein agreed and they began negotiating a contract. Three months later, before the contract was executed, Kyocera learned that Ben Stein is an idiot who denies the reality of global climate change (external - login to view). So they changed their mind and withdrew the offer, because they didn't want to be represented by an idiot. That's how capitalism works, right? Companies make decisions based on their interests, and contracts are the law of the land.

No! Capitalism works by suing people when you don't get your way. To hear Stein tell it, even though they didn't sign a contract, they still had a contract since Stein really, really, wanted the $300,000 Kyocera had offered contingent on signing the contract, which never happened.

Also, according to Stein, he has a right to the $300,000 under the Constitution, which guarantees him freedom of religion. See, Stein believes that global warming isn't real because "God, and not man, control[s] the weather." When Kyocera declined to pay Stein $300,000 to represent the corporation in part because it doesn't want to be associated with that belief, it violated Stein's constitutional right to $300,000. He also accuses Kyocera of violating his "freedom of speech" and "political freedom." Stein has no political freedom, because Kyocera robbed him of the freedom when it refused to pay him $300,000.

Anyway, that's how Ben Stein became an effective spokesman for the Republican values of hard work, free enterprise, and individual accountability: By speaking out against environmental fascism and by suing people for not giving him money.

Neither Kyocera not Stein's attorney returned phone calls. (external - login to view)
Last edited by mentalfloss; Jan 16th, 2012 at 11:51 AM..
L Gilbert
Kids should learn to challenge stuff. Unfortunately, some of them will stick to whatever they believe regardless of evidence against what they believe. It's stupid to prefer to remain ignorant, like the DC members.

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