Over the last two months I have posted a number of articles here reporting on how the climate change debate is playing out in the world of education. Skepticism is alive and well but so is alarmism, which means there is much that can be done to advance sound science. Here is an overview, which ties to the various articles plus some other material and suggests specific action items that many people can take on.
The good news is that a lot of teachers, parents and students are very skeptical of alarmism. Polls indicate that something like a third of middle and high school science teachers do not accept the scary story of dangerous, human caused global warming and climate change. But this means that maybe two thirds do accept alarmism, which means we need to get the skeptical message across, if not to these teachers then at least to their students.
In fact there is evidence that skeptical parents and teachers are standing up to alarmist teachers. There people need supporting materials, which they presumably will not be getting in the classroom. Especially valuable will be materials that can be brought to class, either physically or electronically. The Mother Owl brochure is an example, although it is not free.
When dealing with the public schools it is important to speak to the State standards, because they are the focus of instruction. Climate science is typically taught in middle school and high school. What is taught and when varies from state to state. An important case is the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which are being adopted by many states.
With the NGSS there is a special opportunity, because they mandate teaching a lot of climate stuff in middle school which will be new for many states. This means that new materials are being developed and new teachers are just getting up to speed. This is an ideal time to introduce sound science on a grand scale.
There is also content mandated at the high school level which will be new for many states, especially the use of climate models. Alarmism is entirely dependent on questionable climate models and this point needs to get across to the students.
How to teach the debate is itself an important new issue, because almost all secondary school science teaching is of long established facts. There is very little to debate in the standard curriculum. Teaching about the uncertainties in climate change science is therefore a new challenge that is wide open for experimentation and innovation. The understanding of how science actually works can be greatly improved in the process. Science is not a pile of facts, it is a process that often involves fierce debate.
Another important issue is that alarmism is being taught in non-science classes, such as social studies and civics, or even math and art. In some cases this is happening in very early grades. Doing this is completely outside the standards but some alarmist teachers are fanatical about it. It may be necessary to provide skeptical materials for these classes as well. Plus parents can object to this sort of rogue instruction.
A major problem is that there are a great many websites offering alarmist teaching materials or non-technical propaganda that can be misused in the classroom. Many of these sites are either Federal or federally funded. A prime example of a federally funded alarmist site is Climate Central. These sites should be defunded immediately.
Unfortunately there is very little skeptical teaching material available on the Web and almost no sites that specifically provide it. Thus there is an urgent need both to develop new material and to make it available to the students.
Now is the time to join the fight against the climate alarmism being taught in America’s public schools.