Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Are School Standards REALLY To Be Challenged on Climate Change?

On some mornings I have to administer a sound pinch to be sure it is the year 2012 and not 1812. I mean, you pick up the paper and there are front page headlines about allowing "birth control" as part of health care, states promoting abstinence- only programs, and now ....after challenges to evolution...new challenges to proposed new teaching standards to do with global warming-climate change. Why must so many have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century?

According to a piece in yesterday's WSJ ('School Standards Wade Into Climate Debate', p. A6),

"Several national bodies are set to release a draft of new science standards that include detailed instruction on climate change. The groups preparing the standards include the National Research Council which is part of the National Academies. They are working from a document they drew up last year that says climate change is caused in part by man-made events such as the burning of fossil fuels. The document says rising temperatures could have 'large consequences' for the planet"

This draft is coming none too soon, and I've already blogged on the enhanced risk of delusion spreading amongst our grade and especially high school students:


As I noted therein, part of the problem is too little basic science or basic physics education, such as the reason for CO2 (as well as other greenhouse gases such as methane)to be connected to heat trapping. That is, these greenhouse gases possess the ability to absorb heat in the form of solar infrared radiation. This ability is directly contingent on the molecular vibrations undergone by the particular greeenhouse gas molecule which allow it to absorb and re-emit incident radiation. The particular radiation in this case is also different, namely infrared or heat radiation, as opposed to ultraviolet. (Which has a much shorter wavelength).

The inherent problem in too little education is that most students (not to mention their parents) are unaware of the electro-magnetic spectrum and where infrared resides, for example, in relation to x-ray or ultraviolet wavelengths. They also don't grasp that infrared radiation is explicitly what we define as HEAT.

The other side of the problem of too little education, is too much mis-education! The Eos report I cited ( 'What Do U.S. Students Know About Climate Change?, EOS Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, Vol. 92, No. 51, 20 December, 2011, p. 477) put the blame for this on :

"climate myths and misinformation that are perpetuated by a small but vocal group of politicians and climate change skeptics."

It added:

"Relative to climate experts, the skeptics have an unreasonable large platform in the media and on web sites"

This is quite true and explains how it could arise, as the WSJ piece observes, that the father of a student at Corte Madiera School in Portola Valley, Calif. would actually file a formal complaint against a 6th grade teacher at the school for showing "An Inconvenient Truth" to her class. This character, I kid you not, actually demanded the teacher "either apologize to her students or be fired".

The guy actually charged the teacher with "brainwashing" her students! This shows how far the agnotologists and their insane PR cult have gone in this country to invert science. See also my earlier blog:


How could the skeptics have been allowed to gain such an upper hand that they could have parents believing that those who teach the consensus on global warming are brainwashers?
A major reason is the American corporate media which is so obsessed with the "crossfire" and fight syndrome, they they're more interested in charging a dust -up than getting the truth out.

But because of incidents like this, and the enhanced PR grip of agnotology on the issue, we are seeing even more of these interests attempt to interject themselves into the climate science issue. None more than the Heartland Institute, a front for the fossil fuel lobbies and their interests like the Global Warming Coalition before them. According to the WSJ piece:

"Heartland is pursuing a competing effort to develop a K-12 curriculum that questions the idea of manmade global warming"

In other words, this group of conservo propagandizers seeks to widen the rift even more between the scientifically knowledgeable and those in the grip of agnotology and PR. Thus, the reality based community will be rendered even small if these guys get their way. According to David Wojick, a consultant (quite obviously from a PR firm) designing the plan:

"Teaching the scientific debate instead is a grand challenge"

Great! Except there IS NO "scientific debate"! This is exactly what the agnotologists want people to believe. But amongst climate scientists, those actually doing the work, the issue is long since settled. (See e.g. Eos Transactions, Vol. 90, No. 3, p. 22) authored by P. T. Doran and M. Kendall-Zimmerman who found that (p. 24): “the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely non-existent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes.”

Those facts are these:

1)Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been burning exponentially more fossil fuel to power their societies.

2)This has led to a steady accumulation of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere.

3) CO2 derives its heat-retention properties via the vibrations associated with its molecule.

4) Its toll over time is assessed by the fact that its deposition -activity time is close to a century. This means that every ton of carbon or CO2 deposited continues its influence up to a century after entering the atmosphere. Also, each additional ton added multiplies the effect of the original amounts.

5) The cumulative effect by now is that we are adding 2 parts per million of CO2 concentration each year, to an existing concentration of ~ 374 ppm, with a runaway greenhouse effect threshold near 450 ppm. This 2 ppm in CO2 concentration also adds 2 W/m^2 each year to the solar insolation.

This means at the current levels of CO2 -carbon generation we are barely 50 years from the runaway greenhouse effect which has the potential to convert Earth to another Venus.

Clearly then, if the Heartland bunch is allowed to get its way and have such a specious curriculum inserted into high school science teaching, our educational levels will be set back as far as they were when the Discovery Institute developed its "intelligent design" alternatives to teaching evolution- which were adopted by a number of school boards (Another reason, btw, to get rid of all local school boards, and have a nationalized educational system like Barbados- adhering to national standards across subjects. Besides, this would do away with the need for property taxes altogether since such a system would be supported by federal taxes exclusively. An objective easily accomplished once we cease being idiots and launching wars of choice with billions a month in costs!)

After all, would we allow historical contrarians in the form of Holocaust deniers to enter history class rooms with a "new, alternative curriculum that doesn't merely accept the consensus that the Holocaust occurred, but rather seeks the challenge of teaching the historical debate"?

I don't think so!

The most amusing item in the WSJ piece, and which showed in no uncertain terms how truly dumb so many in this country are was the mention that the proposed new draft curriculum (from the National Research Council) could be a "sticking point for some states". Noting that one state, South Dakota, had already passed a resolution declarng that "climate change should be taught as a theory rather than a proven fact".

What the fuck do these idiots think a THEORY is? Are they even qualified to make such a statement? Have any of them even had high school physics? Are they the least bit aware that a theory represents the culmination or apotheosis of scientific hypothesis -testing, falsification, and confirming predictions and hence.....embodies scientific fact to the greatest practical degree in terms of accepted quality assurance (provided by the body of published peer-reviewed research)?

Or are they too DUMB to know that, and actually mistake theory for speculation, because they: a) have a limited vocabulary, in addition to b) chronic scientific illiteracy (and maybe (c), IQs below 70)?

What we cannot do is turn over American science education to the likes of such clueless yahoos, imbeciles and lunk heads. If they choose to ruin their own kids' futures by passing off bollocks as vetted science, then fine. But they can't be allowed to impose their imbecile standards on everyone else!

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