Climate scientist: Students taught advocacy in place of science

Students are learning energy and climate change advocacy, not climate science

legatesFor almost thirty years, I have taught climate science at three different universities. What I have observed is that students are increasingly being fed climate change advocacy as a surrogate for becoming climate science literate. This makes them easy targets for the climate alarmism that pervades America today.

Earth’s climate probably is the most complicated non-living system one can study, because it naturally integrates astronomy, chemistry, physics, biology, geology, hydrology, oceanography, and cryology — and also includes human behavior by both responding to and affecting human activities. Current concerns over climate change have further pushed climate science to the forefront of scientific inquiry.

What should we be teaching college students?

At the very least, a student should be able to identify and describe the basic processes that cause Earth’s climate to vary from poles to everestequator, from coasts to the center of continents, from the Dead Sea or Death Valley depression to the top of Mount Everest or Denali. A still more literate student would understand how the oceans, biosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere – driven by energy from the sun – all work in constantly changing combinations to produce our very complicated climate.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s definition of climate science literacy raises the question of whether climatology is even a science. It defines climate science literacy as “an understanding of your influence on climate and climate’s influence on you and society.”

How can students understand and put into perspective their influence on the Earth’s climate if they don’t understand the myriad of processes that affect our climate? If they don’t understand the complexity of climate itself? If they are told only human aspects matter? And if they don’t understand these processes, how can they possibly comprehend how climate influences them and society in general?

Worse still, many of our colleges are working against scientific literacy for students.

At the University of Delaware, the Maryland and Delaware Climate Change Education Assessment and Research (MADE CLEAR) defines the distinction between weather and climate by stating that “climate is measured over hundreds or thousands of years,” and defining climate as “average weather.” That presupposes that climate is static, or should be, and that climate change is unordinary in our lifetime and, by implication, undesirable.

etguicsClimate, however, is not static. It is highly variable, on timescales from years to millennia – for reasons that include, but certainly are not limited to, human activity.

This Delaware-Maryland program identifies rising concentrations of greenhouse gases – most notably carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide – as the only reason why temperatures have risen about 0.6°  C (1.1º F) over the last century and will supposedly continue to rise over the next century. Students are then instructed to save energy, calculate their carbon footprint, and reduce, reuse, recycle. Mastering these concepts, they are told, leads to “climate science literacy.” It does not.

In the past, I have been invited to speak at three different universities during their semester-long and college-wide focus on climate science literacy. At all three, two movies were required viewing by all students, to assist them in becoming climate science literate: Al Gore’s biased version of climate science,An Inconvenient Truth, and the 2004 climate science fiction disaster film, The Day After Tomorrow.

This past spring, the University of Delaware sponsored an Environmental Film Festival featuring six films. Among them only An Inconvenient Truth touched at all on the science behind climate change, albeit in such a highly flawed way that in Britain, students must be warned about its bias. The other films were activist-oriented and included movies that are admittedly science fiction or focus on “climate change solutions.”

For these films, university faculty members were selected to moderate discussions. We have a large College of Earth, Ocean and the Environment, from which agreeable, scientifically knowledgeable faculty could have been chosen. Instead, discussion of An Inconvenient Truth was led by a professor of philosophy, and one movie – a documentary on climate change “solutions” that argues solutions are pertinent irrespective of the science – was moderated by a civil engineer.

Discussion of the remaining four films was led by faculty from history, English, and journalism. Clearly, there was little interest in the substance of the science.

docMany fundamentals of climate science are absent from university efforts to promote climate science literacy. For example, students seldom learn that the most important chemical compound with respect to the Earth’s climate is not carbon dioxide, but water. Water influences almost every aspect of the Earth’s energy balance, because it is so prevalent, because it appears in solid, liquid, and gas form in substantial quantities, and because energy is transferred by the water’s mobility and when it changes its physical state. Since precipitation varies considerably from year to year, changes in water availability substantially affect our climate every year.

Hearing about water, however, doesn’t set off alarms like carbon dioxide does.

Contributing to the increased focus on climate change advocacy is the pressure placed on faculty members who do not sign on to the advocacy bandwagon. The University of Delaware has played the role of activist and used FOIA requests to attempt to intimidate me because I have spoken out about climate change alarmism. In my article published in Academic Questions, “The University vs. Academic Freedom,” I discuss the university’s willingness to go along with Greenpeace in its quest for my documents and emails pertaining to my research.

Much grant money and fame, power, and influence are to be had for those who follow the advocates’ game plan. By contrast, the penalties for not going along with alarmist positions are quite severe.

For example, one of the films shown at the University of Delaware’s film festival presents those who disagree with climate change extremism as pundits for hire who misrepresent themselves as a scientific authority. Young faculty members are sent a very pointed message: Adopt the advocacy position – or else.

Making matters worse, consider Senate Bill 3074. Introduced into the U.S. Senate on June 16 of this year, it authorizes the establishment of a national climate change education program. Once again, the emphasis is on teaching energy and climate advocacy, rather than teaching science and increasing scientific knowledge and comprehension.

icesnowThe director of the National Center for Science Education commented that the bill was designed to “[equip] students with the knowledge and knowhow required for them to flourish in a warming world.” Unfortunately, it will do little to educate them regarding climate science.

I fear that our climate science curriculum has been co-opted, to satisfy the climate change fear-mongering agenda that pervades our society today. Instead of teaching the science behind Earth’s climate, advocates have taken the initiative to convert it to a social agenda of environmental activism.

Climatology, unfortunately, has been transformed into a social and political science. There is nothing wrong with either of those “sciences,” of course. But the flaws underpinning climate science advocacy are masked by “concern for the environment,” when climate is no longer treated as a physical science.

Climate science must return to being a real science and not simply a vehicle to promote advocacy talking points. When that happens, students will find that scientific facts are the real “inconvenient truths.”

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About the Author: David R. Legates

David Legates is a Professor of Climatology at the University of Delaware and has studied climate change for thirty years.

  • Brin Jenkins

    Remarkable for his honesty and clarity.

    • Immortal600

      True. I wonder how the climate trolls will react?

      • Brin Jenkins

        Well some might like to say “Get an Education”.

        I think it illustrates how bullying stops some folk talking until they are retired, perhaps thats why some commentators are unable to use their real names and provide proof. They may well lose their employment, and political appointees are now in all professions singing from the PC hymn sheet.

        • Immortal600

          Brin, well said.

  • Dano2

    Fundie from the Cornwall Alliance who can’t get his new releases correct and has to go back and fix them every time. Compelling.

    Best,

    D

    • Brin Jenkins

      Still no explanation in your own words, poor soul can’t understand the argument

  • Wayne Peterkin

    Great article. One statistic I am interested in is exactly how much CO2 has increased in our atmosphere over the past 10 – 20 years? I would like to hear this quantified simply because I suspect the percentage is low enough to discredit the alarmists. We are bombarded with the fear of increasing CO2 levels when they are seldom if ever quantified.

    • Ruth Bard

      Lessee, I think it has gone from 395 ppm to 400 or so. That’s an increase of 5 ppm in 0.04% of the atmosphere. I’m too lazy to do the arithmetic, but that doesn’t sound like enough to worry about.

      • Brin Jenkins

        The square root of B. A. and not a lot to worry us.

      • Wayne Peterkin

        If reasonably accurate, thank you. It is making what I believed to be my point. The alarmists seem to have a pretty weak argument.

      • Dano2

        It has increased from 280 ppmv to 405 ppmv since the Industrial Revolution. ~30%. Increase your med dosage 30% and get back to us.

        Best,

        D

    • Bolt

      Dear Wayne,

      If you think that truth has anything to do with the climate alarmists, you better take a step back and a deep breath along with it. Control is the sole purpose of the AGW charade. Government funding is given to those whose manipulation of data is designed to support the “policy” of the United States. When so-called “policy” collides with facts, we have a real problem and what we are looking at is something other than addressing reality. In the late 1950s, early 1960s we tried to make it rain in New Mexico and Arizona. Guess what? After a few million dollars and no rain, we quit. We could not make it rain when we tried. The Payute Medicine Men were doing a better job.

      We learned in the 6th grade what causes climate variations, besides the seasons, themselves. Most effect–sunspot activity. Then you also have the Pacific currents (El Nino and La Nina), the jet stream and the Gulf Stream. Of course, the overwhelming climate driver is the sun, for Goodness’ Sake.

      These factors have not changed. Go to John Casey’s book, which is the latest report on where we are–and do not forget what leaked out of the Arctic expedition to confirm that the Arctic Ice Cap had disappeared–Golly, gee, they found that it had not only not disappeared but had extended and the Northwest Passage was blocked–My question–how did that inconvenient truth leak from the expedition?

      • Wayne Peterkin

        I have never, ever, suggested that the climate alarmists are interested in the truth. They are interested in propaganda, and there is vast amounts of money at stake. But I am interested in truth, so was curious about the amount of CO2 added to the atmosphere and, as suspected, it has really been pretty small.

        • Bolt

          Dear Wayne,

          I knew that you were interested in truth. The last manipulated number that I have seen is something like a .0018% rise in the last 20 years. As you know, plants use up CO2 during the day during photosynthesis. At night, a small amount of oxygen is used by plants. The Industrial Revolution is considered to have begun about 1850.

          What did the earth look like before 1850? You had the Sahara, the Empty Quarter, the Gobi, the Mojave, the Atacama. You had vast oil reserves around the Persian Gulf, Soviet Union–Aral Sea, North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, off the Atlantic Coast, off the Pacific Coast, off West Africa and inland Nigeria, Guiana, Angola, West Coast of Australia, not to mention Venezuela and Brazil et al. and on and on.

          How were all of these reserves formed? Where did the carbon stored in the kinetic energy of those reserves, come from?

          Now we want to regulate the carbon from corn and other plants. These people simply do not have enough to do.

          And it has zero to do with anything but control. If they really wanted to reduce carbon emissions, they would get behind the ewn generation, high temp nuclear reactor that generates hydrogen as a by-product. We would go to a hydrogen power economy, You know what you get when you burn H2? Water!

          Yet we strike out on creating ethanol from corn so that we use more energy and generate more CO2 to get some ethanol and we drive up the world price of corn. Wow. Who thought that one up? And who benefits?

          I could go on and on about the stupidity of it all, but we are being led by the likes of BHO and John Kerry, too of the dimmest bulbs on planet earth. I do not care what they say about IQ; these people have no intellect worth betting on.

      • ipsd48

        It’s not just control, Bolt. There’s also the billions of dollars in ‘profit’s’ to be raped from the american taxpayer.

        • Bolt

          Dear ipsd48,

          Oh, never think that I do not equate the 2. If you want to boil it down, it is all about money. Follow the money trail.

          Why do you think the faux scientists are willing to manipulate data? They are paid! They get their grants. Eric Mann at Penn State has been recognized there as the fraud that he is.

          I know 2 ag researchers at Penn State. They are pissed and it has washed over into their research–one of their colleagues was prohibited from publishing research that “conflicted with policy” on a government funded research project. Talk about “settled science,” they write it up in government regulations and declare it “settled” and attack the real scientists as “deniers.”

          This is precisely what went on in the early Soviet Union. Same thing.

    • Gweilo66

      Seems like a good place to give Al Gore a big thank you for publishing his book all those years ago. I thought I was dutifully informing myself on the impending crisis. Instead, a chart in his book made clear how the supposed CO2 and temp correlation was falling/drifting apart.
      Thanks Al!

    • ipsd48

      I wonder if plants worry about increased levels of air in their CO2 based atmosphere :/

  • Jeffrey A Jones

    Cliamatology is akin to astrology, the difference being astrological predictions are infinitely more accurate than climatological ones.

  • Big Iron

    Heaven forbid that our “education” system should actually educate our people to think. “When I think of all the years I spent in school it’s a wonder that I can even think at all.”

    And this is so the PTB/NWO can “all the better shear the sheeple”! …who are becoming no more than “mindless, unthinking slaves” of the corrupt, international PTB/NWO elite who control our government and who are intent on consolidating their rule of the world.

  • MarcJ

    Look at the usual caesarian pose of B. Hussein Obama, that former street agitator for ACORN thugs, with his head risen above the adoring multitudes, and his eyes half-closed in meditation of his own grandeur. This low-IQ poseur suffers from the complex of greatness: “Tomorrow the oceans will stop rising and the planet will start healing” – our racist Marxist Muslim President from Kenya declared at his first inauguration (or just before it). “Our first Black President” – our Main Stream Media call him while trying to overwhelm those powerful “thrills up their legs”- or “African American”. He is neither – he is in fact an “African White”: his father was an African Black communist alcoholic from Kenya, and his mother an American White drugged-up hippie.
    He is now engaged in establishing a new economic regime called “Climate Change” that will presumably fight the catastrophic Global Warming (that name change was rendered necessary after 20 consecutive years of cooling – against all dire predictions issued by our government-paid “scientific” drones and that UN socialist panel). I am personally encouraged by this particular printed paper trillion dollar campaign since all those “renewable, non-polluting, and environmentally safe energies” are everything but that: they are totally unreliable, extremely expensive, energy-balance negative in the long run, and environmentally destructive – in other words they are fatally destined to fail.

  • AllenBarclayAllen

    Thev chemist on the BP Derick was a prodigee of Al gore GWA advocacy ! Dident know one compound from another ! Was there to say know to the executives of BP ! Because water from bit sample was still showing methane sulfate ( a huge cryogenic compound that explosively perduced methane when exposed to water) ! Corporate exect . Said pump it full of saltwater couple million galions will do now the Al Gore trained GWA advocacy BP chemist is dead ! Perducing a stupid is dead stupid does situation ! They never recovered his body from this inferno that became so hot it ignited steal !

  • J T

    Senate Bill 3074? A “National Climate Change Education program”? Are you

    fckng. shtng. me? Who introduced it? And when? A tax-payer-funded forced-course

    of climatic lies & deceit, of Clintonian proportions? Is that what we’re being asked

    to swallow? Fck u!

  • To the deceitful Gore intellectually and also criminal.

  • Immortal600

    For all:

    This person finally woke up and realized the truth behind AGW:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QmkHr0W5Vk