Advocates push anti-global warming message in schools

What do evolution deniers and global warming skeptics have in common?

They both really like role-play. And who are we to judge? I mean, to each his own, right?

In all seriousness, though, these notorious science deniers have donned new personas — as academic freedom fighters.

Recently there has been a push to teach “both sides” of these dominant scientific theories because evolution deniers are able to circumvent accusations of church and state violations by calling for global warming criticism as well, according to a New York Times article.

In other words, by demanding that criticism of both evolution and global warming be taught in classrooms, proponents can claim they are “championing academic freedom,” instead of fighting for Constitution-violating standards.

Last year, the Texas Board of Education voted to require all sides of the evolution and global warming debates to be presented in classes, according to The New York Times. Other states have heard, if not passed, bills in support of critical teaching, including Kentucky, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

In Louisiana, a bill passed that allows the board of education to “assist teachers in promoting ‘critical thinking’ on all of those subjects,” according to the article. Moreover, in South Dakota, a resolution was passed that calls for “balanced teaching of global warming in public schools.”

What exactly do these states want teachers to say?

“Well, kids, an overwhelming majority of climate scientists have come to consensus on the subject of global warming … but there are some non-experts who claim to know more than anyone — and they say global warming isn’t real.”

Perhaps the whole global warming discussion could consist of two sentences from the South Dakotan resolution: “Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant but rather a highly beneficial ingredient for all plant life. Many scientists refer to carbon dioxide as ‘the gas of life.’”

The excerpt from the resolution argues that because a substance is good for one organism, it’s not bad for another organism. This is what South Dakota is teaching its children.

Why are blatantly faulty and, ironically, biased scientific views like the ones above allowed to be perpetuated?

And why is the anti-evolution movement gaining credibility, especially legal credibility, by exploiting the (loosely) science-based global warming denial movement?

The “science” behind the anti-evolution criticism that is being pushed is likely no better than it ever was before. And if it compares to the evidence against global warming, especially the embarrassing content of the South Dakotan resolution, then there is no reason for it to be accepted as worthwhile or credible.

And the kind of evolution criticism being promoted is likely not focused in analytic science, but religion, seeing as the movement is linking itself with a science debate in order to circumvent violations against the separation of church and state.

The United States is at a crossroads: We can choose the path that engages young minds in compelling scientific discussion and fosters an eagerness to learn and experience the wonders the physical and life sciences have to offer.

Or we can choose to facilitate a shady and unscrupulous conversation about human existence and the impacts we have on our planet. This conversation is marred by disdain for consensus on evolution and global warming, both of which have very complex and uncomfortable implications for us.

While we certainly should provide an honest presentation of both evolution and global warming science, that is not what these states want. In their quest to out-voice the consensus, they are doing substantial harm to their children and to the future of their country, if not the whole world.

Reach Becky at rrubens1@asu.edu


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