We read a new article with a bit of trepidation this morning. It appears at the website of our friends, the National Center for Science Education (NCSE): Teachers “feeling the heat” over climate change. Here’s what they say, with bold font added by us:
“The U.S. political debate over climate change is seeping into K-12 science classrooms, and teachers are feeling the heat,” according to a report in Science (August 5, 2011; subscription required). Science educators are increasingly reporting attacks on climate change education …
This is the article in Science they’re talking about: Climate Change Sparks Battles in Classroom . As NCSE says, you’ll need a subscription to see more than the abstract. Let’s read on:
[C]limate change is now routinely yoked with evolution as “controversial” in antievolution legislation such as the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008.
That seems to be true. Here’s one more excerpt from NCSE’s brief article, and this is what caught our attention:
NCSE is now monitoring controversies over the teaching of climate change as well as controversies over the teaching of evolution … .
Where’s the problem in that for your humble Curmudgeon? After all, NCSE’s full name is the “National Center for Science Education.” Climate change is science, so teaching it certainly falls within the scope of “science education.” What’s wrong with that?
What NCSE chooses to do is up to them, of course; however, we think the controversy over teaching evolution is very different from the controversy over climate change. Perhaps we’re all alone in this (we’re used to that), but here’s our thinking on the matter. And yes, you’re heard much of this from us before.
Evolution is rock-solid science about which there is no controversy — no science controversy, that is. Those who oppose it, or who want to “balance” it with other so-called theories, or who want to teach its alleged “weaknesses” are motivated entirely by religious passions, and in the US we can’t promote religion in the public schools. This isn’t a complicated issue to grasp, but it’s unfortunately a necessary effort to constantly monitor the situation and to struggle against those with theocratic goals. NCSE has done admirable service in that worthy endeavor.
Climate science — or to cut to the heart of it, human-caused global warming — may also be rock-solid science. Your Curmudgeon doesn’t know, but he doesn’t deny it. However, those who oppose that science can have different motives from those who oppose teaching evolution. They’re often the same people, of course, well-organized into groups of political activists that usually have the word “Family” in their organizations’ names, but the reasons for opposing each science can be very different.
As we all know, evolution opponents are entirely motivated by religion. The global warming opponents have a variety of motives — sometimes they say it’s religious (scripture gives us dominion over the earth, etc.) but despite the fact that deniers of both sciences seem to travel together (see Global Warming, Creationism & Brain Death), there’s much more to climate-science denial than religion.
There are those who seek to exploit every movement or “crisis” that offers them the possibility of attaining power. We won’t conceal our meaning — we’re talking about socialists. They can easily be spotted by the “solutions” they propose — which would give them the power to control things. The political motivation of a dedicated cadre of stealth leftists within a movement — like environmentalism — has no bearing on the underlying science that may be involved. Science must stand or fall on its own merits, not on the way it may be misused.
To be absolutely clear, the global socialist “solutions” advocated by people like Al Gore (a/k/a the Fat Boy) and his comrades in the UN are utterly despicable and we oppose them. But we don’t oppose the science of climatology, or its conclusions about global warming — man-made or otherwise. Science gives us useful information for the conduct of our affairs, which we should be free to pursue without governmental coercion.
We have always believed that it’s not only respectable, but also required for a defender of free enterprise and property rights to challenge the politics of those who are exploiting the currently convenient science of climatology. The science is what it is, but a cabal of global socialists are using it to achieve political goals. That’s what we oppose. And although we support science education, including climate science, we oppose teaching science in an ideological way that supports left-wing political goals.
There’s still more involved here, which makes this whole business so devilishly complicated. We’ve previously pointed out something that surfaced after Climategate. It’s what we call the creationists’ vindication of all kooks doctrine — which holds that if (a big if) the legitimate views of global warming skeptics have been wrongly suppressed, then all science dissent has been similarly mistreated, and therefore the science-denial of creationism is now respectable. That’s absurd, of course, but unfortunately, we’ve seen some indications of an equally absurd backlash: Many global warming supporters are defending not only their science (which is a proper thing to do) but also their political agenda (which we oppose) by lumping all their critics and skeptics together. The result is that sometimes we see them using the “all our critics are creationists” doctrine. That is no way to defend science.
And that brings us back to NCSE. They say they’re going to be “monitoring controversies over the teaching of climate change as well as controversies over the teaching of evolution.” Okay. We’ve always found them to be a rational and entirely honorable group, so we’re looking forward to this new element of their work. But science is one thing, and politics is another. Unfortunately, with evolution in tax-supported public schools, and with economic controls imposed in the name of global warming, science and politics are all too often scrambled together. When that happens, political opposition arises and science education suffers.
Science should never (in our humble opinion) become the exclusive concern of any political ideology. Our sincere hope is that NCSE won’t let that happen to their fine work. But we’re a wee bit apprehensive, so while NCSE sets out to monitor the controversy over teaching climate change, your Curmudgeon will be monitoring them — and wishing them well. That’s what friends are for.
Update: See Genie Scott, Global Warming & Creationism.
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