The next classroom war: global warming denialism

February 17, 2012

For most of the last 20 years, far right-wing conservatives have been looking for ways to circumvent the law of the land and introduce either alternatives to natural selection, or more recently, looking for ways to spread false doubt about natural selection (evolution, as theories go is not wholly complete … but neither is gravity … we don’t teach that we have doubts over gravity).

The next battle heating up over the minds of young Americans is global warming denialism.  The Heartland Institute (a group that supported Philip Morris in its claims that second-hand smoke wasn’t a health risk, and supports charter schools) has had documents come to light that they are preparing a curriculum for schools designed to shed doubt on the influence of humanity on the global climate.

To be sure folks:  I have heard legitimate scientists talk on this topic, and there is still some disagreement to what degree global warming (to which there is universally no doubt) is influenced by human activity.  Some see humans as having the predominant influence.  Others see humans as having a moderate influence, exacerbated by natural phenomena.  Any legit scientists will tell you we are playing a role … the extent is still under investigation.

This, however, is absolutely no reason to mount an attack on the science that is taking place.  However, that never gets in the way of people who love to politicize something, because once something is politicized, it can be attacked politically.

However, the scariest thing in this article was this little piece of information:

If state standards are up to par with national science standards, writing a curriculum that denied climate change would be tough, said Julie Lambert, an associate professor of science education at Florida Atlantic University.

On the surface, this seems to be great news!  Since the new national core curriculum won’t stand for this nonsense, schools would be wasting their time adopting it (charter and private schools could still adopt it).

However …

… as I stated before, the state of the national core curriculum will be largely in the hands of the politicians in office.  Today, under President Obama, we may have someone more willing to allow scientists to set the tone of those standards, but what happens when a new administration, similar to 2001-2009, comes to power, and entirely politicizes the core curriculum to reflect their personal global views …. one with an anti-science agenda who then co-opts the national curriculum … things like this can more easily creep in.

The core curriculum is an example of an idea that is good on paper but could have some unintended consequences down the road.  Here is another example of politics turning classrooms into political warzones.  In some ways, this is nothing new …. but I am getting damn sick and tired of my kids, my profession, my colleagues, and me, being used as pawns by a political system that demands my participation but makes me grow ever more sickened by it.