More on the House Assault on the EPA

A good summary by Jordan Howard in the Huffington Post of the House attack on the EPA through appropriations bills and riders, some of of which we have been groaning about in earlier posts.

Let’s Raise a Generation of Morons

The teaching of the science necessary for understanding climate issues is now coming under attack in schools, and joining the attacks on teaching of basic biology (the parts related to evolution, of course) in a way that will continue to make Americans more scientifically illiterate than almost any developed country in the world. Way to go!

On the academic side of what I work on as a philosophy professor, I have been trying to understand this parallel distrust of science education. Both are leading the way to increasingly irrational environmental policy. Evolutionary theory is central to understanding what to do about biodiversity, and basic earth and atmospheric processes are at the core of climate science. Why the selective distrust of science? Big, complicated question.

Related to this: Merchants of Doubt, by Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway, is a good book about “how a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming.” The Amazon crowd-sourced reviews are interesting, especially the vitriolic one-star posts.

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Click here for a nice blog post about the current attack on climate science in schools here.  This is another blog that is new to me. Thanks to Brad Johnson at ClimateProgress for bringing it to my attention in his post.

The full article in Science that prompted these posts requires a subscription. (Science 5 August 2011: Vol. 333 no. 6043 pp. 688-689), but here is a quick summary is available here:

Science Education: Climate Change Sparks Battles in Classroom, by Sarah Reardon

An informal survey this spring of 800 members of the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA) found that climate change was second only to evolution in triggering protests from parents and school administrators. Online message boards for science teachers tell similar tales. Unlike biology teachers defending the teaching of evolution, however, earth science teachers don’t have the protection of the First Amendment’s language about religion. But the teachers feel their arguments are equally compelling: Science courses should reflect the best scientific knowledge of the day, and offering opposing views amounts to teaching poor science. Most science teachers don’t relish having to engage this latest threat to their profession and resent devoting precious classroom time to a discussion of an alleged “controversy.” And they believe that politics has no place in a science classroom. Even so, some are being dragged against their will into a conflict they fear could turn ugly.

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Science is published by The American Association for the Advancement of Science. Founded in 1848, Triple A-S (AAAS), is “an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world by serving as an educator, leader, spokesperson and professional association. In addition to organizing membership activities, AAAS publishes the journal Science, as well as many scientific newsletters, books and reports, and spearheads programs that raise the bar of understanding for science worldwide.”

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Climate Crock of the Week

Excellent short film from Climate Crock of the Week, a cool site which is new to me. (Thanks to Scott Mandia for the pointer.)

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And more on the heat wave in particular from one of America’s finest sources of news and commentary.

http://www.theonion.com/articles/scientists-trace-heat-wave-to-massive-star-at-cent,21088/

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Fox News Attacks SpongeBob!

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? And why is he being swift-boated by Fox & Friends?

Mr. SquarePants’ global warming book and video are “indoctrinating children,” and the U.S. Department of Education has been duped into “pushing his global warming agenda.” The hard-hitting investigative journalists at Fox have discovered that the cartoon star and Department of Education were actually “blaming man for global warming.” Instead of being balanced, like Fox always is, “they did not tell kids that this is a disputed fact.”

No shit; this is for real. I feel bad for the writers at The Onion, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report, though, because reality containing this much self-parody has to be job-threatening to anyone trying to make a living at satire.

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At one point during the discussion on yesterday’s Fox & Friends show, an on-screen headline read “SPONGEBOB’S BIAS: CARTOON BLAMES MAN FOR GLOBAL WARMING.” Here are few snippets of what was being gravely intoned (while the banner ran across the bottom of the screen) by co-hosts Dave Briggs, Gretchen Carlson, and Steve Doocy (text with comments as reported by Media Matters):

CARLSON: The Department of Education using SpongeBob SquarePants now to teach kids about global warming. The government agency showed kids this cartoon and handed out books that blamed man for global warming, but they did not tell kids that that is actually a disputed fact. Oops! [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/3/11]

  • Department of Education: “We’ve Never Shown Any Videos” At The Reading Events. Contrary to Carlson’s claim, Tim Tuten of the Department of Education said that the SpongeBob video was not shown at the reading events. “We’ve never shown any videos ever, so I have no idea where that is coming from,” he said. Tuten added that participants were permitted to choose one of dozens of diverse books to take home with them and the SpongeBob book was one of those options. [Phone conversation, 8/3/11]
  • Doocy Claims Unnamed “Parents” Think SpongeBob Book Pushes “Over-The-Top Green Agenda.”

    DOOCY: The Department of Education giving kids free books about SpongeBob. Seems like a good idea right? Well some parents don’t think so. They say the books are being used to push an over-the-top green agenda regarding global warming. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/3/11]

    Carlson On SpongeBob: “He Is Only Looking At It From One Point Of View.” On Fox & Friends Carlson also said of the Nickelodeon show:

    CARLSON: We all know that SpongeBob is popular with the kids and for the life of me I still keep trying to figure out why it is. My kids watch limited TV but every time they chose that show, I’m like, ‘Why?’  Anyway — it’s hard to even follow sometimes. Anyway now maybe that will be a good thing because SpongeBob is talking a lot about global warming, and he’s only looking at it from one point of view. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/3/11]

    Fox’s Dave Briggs: Global Warming Is “Unproven Science.”

    BRIGGS: It’s unproven science. And again, this is public education system that we all pay our tax dollars for and the SpongeBob book says that it’s a manmade problem that requires human intervention.

    DOOCY: Right. They’re presenting it as fact.

    BRIGGS:  As fact. Meanwhile, the schools there — I mean, we’re talking about 14th in the world in reading, 17th in the world in science, 25th in math. So we’re forcing an issue that is not yet proven — we can’t even teach our kids the adequate math, reading and science at this point. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/3/11]

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    On the subject of what scientists think about whether climate change is caused by humans, Media Matters summarizes the “unproven issue” SpongeBob is forcing as our schools fail us:

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  • National Research Council: “Preponderance Of Scientific Evidence” Indicates That Humans Are Changing The Climate. In a recent report, the National Research Council stated: “[T]he preponderance of scientific evidence points to human activities — especially the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere — as the most likely cause for most of the global warming that has occurred over the last several decades.” [National Research Council, 5/12/11]

  • American Chemical Society: Climate Change Is “Largely Attributable To Emissions From Human Activities.” According to the American Chemical Society: “[C]omprehensive scientific assessments of our current and potential future climates clearly indicate that climate change is real, largely attributable to emissions from human activities, and potentially a very serious problem.” [American Chemical Society, accessed 8/3/11]

  • AAAS: “Global Climate Change Is Real” And “Is Caused Largely By Human Activities.” The American Association for the Advancement of Science said in a 2009 statement: “The vast preponderance of evidence, based on years of research conducted by a wide array of different investigators at many institutions, clearly indicates that global climate change is real, it is caused largely by human activities, and the need to take action is urgent.” [American Association For The Advancement of Science, 12/4/09]

  • American Meteorological Society: “Humans Have Significantly Contributed” To Climate Change. In a February 2007 statement, the American Meteorological Society said “there is adequate evidence” to conclude “that humans have significantly contributed” to climate change and that “further climate change will continue to have important impacts on human societies, on economies, on ecosystems, and on wildlife through the 21st century and beyond.” [American Meteorological Society, 2/1/07]

  • Geological Society Of America: “Human Activities … Account For Most Of The Warming Since The Middle 1900s.” From an April 2010 position statement of the Geological Society of America:

    The Geological Society of America (GSA) concurs with assessments by the National Academies of Science (2005), the National Research Council (2006), and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) that global climate has warmed and that human activities (mainly greenhouse gas emissions) account for most of the warming since the middle 1900s. If current trends continue, the projected increase in global temperature by the end of the twenty-first century will result in large impacts on humans and other species. [Geological Society of America, April 2010]

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    Please comment and share this post, and check out the very solid work being done by Media Matters for America.  See you at Krusty’s.

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