School Board climate skepticism in New York State

Back in June we pointed to poll evidence that a significant fraction of middle and high school teachers do not accept climate alarmism. Now we have evidence that this skepticism holds for School Boards as well, even in New York State. In fact the results seem to be roughly the same. The New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) has polled its members on the teaching of “climate change” and a bunch of the respondents seem pretty skeptical. New York is a very liberal State and it has over 700 School Boards, so this is a very interesting result. The report itself is very alarmist, which suggests that the skeptical results are valid.

Unfortunately, because the Association is heavily alarmist, the results are not easy to interpret. As often happens with alarmists, they seem to have used the term “climate change” to mean human caused dangerous climate change in their leading poll question. Given that climate also changes naturally, this makes the results highly ambiguous. For example, no one thinks that students should not be taught about the ice ages.

We have very little information about the survey itself, just a single figure in the report. Two questions were asked, the first being “Do you support or oppose climate change being taught in New York’s public schools?” Given the ice ages, this question probably only makes sense if “climate change” here refers to human caused climate change. It is therefore very interesting that only 70% of respondents voted “support.” Instead, 16% voted “oppose” while 14% said “not sure,” which also indicates a degree of skepticism.

This 30% sounds very like the previously reported poll result that about a third of science teachers are not alarmists. However, things get more complicated when the second question is asked. This one is “Do you support or oppose schools teaching that humans contribute to climate change? [This question was asked only of respondents who answered either “support” or “not sure” on Question 1.]”

First note that this question is hopelessly vague. What does “contribute to climate change” even mean? A little or a lot? For example, the human caused urban heat island effect is well established for major cities. Doesn’t this mean that humans contribute to climate change? On the other hand, that they contribute to global warming is far from clear.

It is therefore surprising that 9% of respondents said they were not sure while fully 5% said they opposed teaching that humans contribute to climate change. Clearly these folks did not interpret question one as referring solely to human caused dangerous climate change.

There are two points here. First, there look to be a lot of skeptics of climate alarmism among the School Board members, even in liberal New York. This is good news indeed. Second, it is hard to get good poll results when the climate change questions are muddled, as they tend to be when alarmists ask them. In this case the results are confused because the questions are confusing.

However, there is nothing confusing about the alarmist nature of the NYSSBA report. It follows the usual lines. First we are told falsely that the “overwhelming majority” of climate scientists believe that humans are causing the global warming. Then skepticism is falsely explained as being due to corporate funding. Then we get pages of advice on how to teach alarmism. As we have seen before, NASA and NOAA/CLEAN are heavily featured as sources of teaching materials.

The so-called National Center for Science Education, which is the leading activist group pushing climate alarmism in schools, gets over a page of advice. As usual the report ends with a call for students to develop “climate action plans.” Once again climate change becomes activism, not science. It is somewhat amusing that recycling of cafeteria food waste is labeled as climate action, except that once again the students are being duped in the name of climate change.

I strongly suspect that the skeptical numbers in the poll results explain why there is no discussion of them in the report. Figure 2 is all they get. But they remind us that climate change skepticism is alive and well, even in New York schools. This skepticism needs our help, not because it is dying, but rather because it is there.

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About the Author: David Wojick, Ph.D.

David Wojick is a journalist and policy analyst. He holds a doctorate in epistemology, specializing in the field of Mathematical Logic and Conceptual Analysis.