Monday, May 31, 2010

I Despair...

I should have seen this one coming.

Some outfit called "Balanced Education for Everyone", BEE for short, just presented to the Mesa County (Colorado) School Board a petition calling for a stop to "the teaching of global warming" in local schools. And this time they mean business.

Now BEE is a campaign launched by the Independent Women's Forum (IWF), which advocates: "...for parents to take control of their children's education, especially when it comes to alarmist global warming indoctrination." IWF by the way is the association of ultra, ultra conservative women who long for the days when real men could drag them by the hair back to a cave where they could get down to some serious servitude.

Oh my. Apparently the folks over at Balanced Ed have adopted the if-you-can't-lick-em-join-em strategy as plan B. If those nutty teachers persist in teaching all this global warming dreck, at least they ought to balance it out with some of BEE's dreck.

So lickity split they whip together a whole anti-global warming course, with study guides and everything. You can find the course, "Not Evil, Just Wrong", (based on a movie by the same name) at BEE's website. The course was written by one Lene Johansen, whose principal qualification appears to be that she hates Al Gore. Other than that, she "attended graduate school at The Missouri School of Journalism (no mention if she ever graduated) and "has a passion for science, economics and international development.".

Its kind of hard to really make sense of "Not Evil, Just Wrong", the course I mean, not the movie. In a nutshell, it looks like students will learn that a) polar bears aren't affected by climate change, b) climate scientists are lying to us and c) "renewable energy" is for sissies. For academic validation, the course was reviewed by a veritable constellation of, er, "experts", those being a professor of political science, two PhD's in medical entomology, and the highly impartial Patrick Michaels.

And it all makes a bizarre kind of sense. Especially if you watch the movie, which by all accounts goes beyond actual science and into the more reliable realm of political ideology.

Let's just say they put a little too much "sand in the cement" when the poured Ms Johansen's foundation and leave it at that.

BEE's petition, signed by 600 Mesa County Citizens was presented to the School Board by Rose Pugliese, who is billed as "a local lawyer and failed Republican candidate for the board of education...". During the meeting, a counter petition, signed by 700 citizens was also presented. Which helps explain why Rose lost.

On a serious note, BEE's probably going to lose this round. But one wonders, what if it won? Probably the most damaging result would be loss of respect for our institutions of science - by our kids no less, who would be little more than proxies in a fatuous game of politics.

Listen Steve, if you want to decide how to teach math to kids, you get a bunch of qualified mathematicians together and ask them what kids should learn. Then you get some qualified math teachers together and they will decide when and how this material should be delivered. Pretty simple I think.

But apparently you can't do this with some academic disciplines. Like climatology for example, the study of which, according to bubble heads like Lene Johansen and Rose Pugliese, turns a person into a lying, left wing activist.

Right down the road from Mesa are Colorado University and Colorado State. Colorado University maintains the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, which features available lesson plans for courses on atmospheric science and climate change for grades 3 through 12, put together by a staff of 60 qualified researchers and educators - and well over a hundred supporting staff. And by the way, the lesson plan for grade 9-12 has a segment titled "What effect does climate change have on wildlife?", which details, among other things, the effect of climate change on polar bears.

Mesa County kids would be taught that these people at Colorado University and the academic courses they have designed are all a pack of liars and lies.

Colorado State maintains CIRA - "The Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere" along with the NOAA. Take a moment to look through the faculty profiles at the CSU Department of Atmospheric Science. Its pretty amazing. I selected one at random: Takamitsu Ito is "only" an assistant professor, who earned his PhD in climate physics from MIT in 2005. His research interest is physical oceanography and he earned a "Postdoctoral Research Fellowship - Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and the Ocean program on Climate Change - 2004 - University of Washington". This is not to mention his list of other academic awards and lengthy list of peer reviewed papers.

Mesa County kids would be taught that Dr. Takamitsu Ito and all his fellow professors at Colorado State - people that is, who spent their lives studying and succeeding in the field of climatology, are all a bunch of liars. According that is, to journalism student Lene Johansen, whose "passion for science" apparently has no effect on her dislike of scientists. Maybe that's why she didn't become one.

Let's close this before I get too upset. I don't know what (conservative writer) John Derbyshire thinks of global warming. But in a lovey commentary on an unrelated subject, he said some things which I think are particularly appropriate here:

"Western civilization has many glories. There are the legacies of the ancients, in literature and thought. There are the late-medieval cathedrals, those huge miracles of stone, statuary, and spiritual devotion. There is painting, music, the orderly cityscapes of Renaissance Italy, the peaceful, self-governed townships of old New England and the Frontier, the steel marvels of the early industrial revolution, our parliaments and courts of law, our great universities with their spirit of restless inquiry...

And there is science, perhaps the greatest of all our achievements...

Our scientific theories are the crowning adornments of our civilization, towering monuments of intellectual effort, built from untold millions of hours of observation, measurement, classification, discussion, and deliberation...

And yes: When our greatest achievements are blamed for our greatest moral failures, that is a blood libel against Western civilization itself...

... Stand up for your civilization, man! and all its glories. The barbarians are at the gate, as they always have been. Come man the defenses with us, leaving the liars and fools to their lies and folly."


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