Posted by: bmeverett | February 12, 2016

Teaching Our Kids the False Climate Narrative

The February 12, New York Times has an interesting article entitled “Science Teachers Lag on Climate Change”. The article reports that a survey recently published in the journal Science concludes that American science teachers have an “insufficient grasp” of climate science, which “may hinder effective teaching”. What the survey shows instead is that its authors lack a grasp of climate science.

Lead author Eric Plutzer, Professor of Political Science at Penn State, was surprised by “the level of ignorance the teachers showed in the survey, especially in describing the current state of scientific consensus on the topic.” Here, once again, is the standard and utterly false narrative of climate activists. The argument, they claim, is over whether humans contribute to climate change. Since 97% of scientists believe in a human component, while the remaining 3% (the climate deniers) do not, then the problem is effectively solved. All teachers need to do is explain to our children that climate science is settled. By implication, the next step is for our high school students to get out in the streets and demand action to prevent climate catastrophe.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but this narrative is simply wrong. Virtually everyone I know who is at all knowledgeable about climate agrees that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and that some part of the observed warming is due to man-made emissions. The real issue, never once mentioned in the NYT article, is climate sensitivity, in other words how much carbon dioxide will cause how much of a temperature increase. This parameter, which is unknown, will determine whether carbon dioxide from fossil fuels causes catastrophe or proves to be benign.

If we want our students to become proficient in science, the first thing to teach them is that scientific problems are not resolved by consensus, but by empirical evidence. Second, we should help them understand the real issues involved in climate change and help them to work through these problems analytically, reaching their own conclusions. Climate activists insists that climate sensitivity is very high, on the order of 3½ to 4½° Celsius, while actual data suggest numbers closer to 1° Celsius or even less. This is the controversy, and this is what we should be asking our children to wrestle with.

According to the article, teachers are held back mainly by ignorant parents who claim that climate change is “garbage” and will try to intimidate teachers who deal with the subject. Is it possible that these parents are sensing political advocacy by their teachers and reacting to it? Heaven forbid that parents have a say in developing the proper political consciousness of our children.

Ms. Bertha Vasquez, identified only as “a teacher in Miami”, offers an interesting, and very telling comment. She “has persuaded colleagues, including those teaching German and art, to incorporate climate issues into their courses.” This is perfectly understandable to climate activists. Actual science teachers are far more likely to see through the climate narrative and its fundamentally anti-science viewpoint. Humanities teachers, not trained in the physical sciences, are presumed to be more malleable and willing to join the climate activist team. Instead of studying science, where students might inadvertently reach politically incorrect conclusions, perhaps the students should just make a statue of a dying Eisbär, which will give them the correct attitudes. Climate activists are the only people who believe that teaching actual science in the classroom is “lagging”.



  1. Can’t help but notice that not one iota of evidence, for or against, is mentioned. Pretty well par for the course with these empty, opinionated polemics.

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