Teaching sound climate science is often prevented by “gatekeepers” who want alarmism to be taught. The gatekeeper may be the teacher or a school administrator. One way around gatekeepers is to present materials which challenge alarmism which I call :gate-breaking.” One way to do this is for students to bring gate-breaking materials to class. If the material is online this might just mean distributing the URL. For more on gatekeeping see here and here.
Gate-breaking materials do not have to meet the rigorous standards of lesson plans and other teaching materials. However, they should not be more technical than the class understands. This limitation rules out a lot of skeptical material, which tends to be pretty technical. Also, the best content is probably that which presents the climate change debate, as opposed to advocacy material which presents just one side.
At one extreme, a gate-breaking document might be just a single page that speaks directly to the class topic. Or it might be something longer, such as the “Kids Guide to Climate Change” from Mother Owl. This engaging brochure has 18 pages of science text plus and equal number of graphic pages that include a running poem. The focus is natural climate change.
The poem is fun and puts it this way:
If you take a look at history
things go up and then they fall
Many things in nature
have a cycle, big or small
The author (Mother Owl) tells me “I wrote ‘The Kids Guide to Climate Change’ two years ago when my daughter was 12 years old. She was being fed a lot of rubbish at school about global warming and I felt I had to even up the score a little. She was also hungry for some actual facts. I guess I did design the book with her in mind and the idea that kids these days are quickly bored. I wanted to be able to get the main points across quickly, and simply, with a visual element – the photo with cartoon sketch – and the more detailed facts were only for the more interested reader.
When I showed it to some primary school teachers, their immediate reaction was that it would make a great book for reading aloud to kids in a classroom (a “big book” – i.e. large in size for the whole class to see). They would only read the poem, but if questions were asked, the information was there for them to immediately share and explain. As you say, very few K-12 science teachers have a science degree and only teach what they have been told by the Ministry of Education. I was so grateful and very fortunate, to have help from Professor Bob Carter in Australia to check and edit my words.”
In the brochure the possible effects of increasing CO2 are first discussed, and then summed up by describing a basic feature of the climate debate, as follows:
“Some scientists are concerned that the CO2 added to the atmosphere from human sources may cause a change to the climate, while others think it will be beneficial for plant growth. The long-term impact of higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere is not yet clear, so greenhouse gases are currently a topic of intense scientific research.” (Page 26)
Mother Owl also has a good brochure about the chemistry and benefits of carbon, titled “Kids Guide to Carbon – the essential element.” The basic unstated point is that the term “carbon pollution” is complete nonsense. As the Guide explains, carbon is good stuff, the essential element.
The carbon poem begins with this:
You need to know a little bit
about elements and atoms
if you really want to understand
how carbon magic happens
Neither of these brochures is entirely suitable for standalone classroom use. They span topics covered over many years in the standard curriculum. For example, the Climate Change booklet ranges from explaining seasons to the greenhouse effect. But they are both well suited for gate-breaking. Each makes its basic point clearly and simply. In cases where gatekeeping is falsely teaching that human carbon pollution is causing dangerous climate change, presenting these brochures could be very effective.
The Mother Owl brochures were just published a year ago and we need a lot more sound science material like this.