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Climate Battlefront Comes to New Mexico Schools

October 27, 2017

Climate Change Weekly #266

It seems New Mexico’s schoolchildren will be the latest casualties in the battle to ensure science education in the state’s schools is based on facts and the best available evidence, not driven by political activists pushing an anti-fossil fuel, anti-capitalism agenda. Despite early promises it would stand up for science, New Mexico’s Public Education Department (PED) has caved to climate alarmists and is adopting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in whole, including the standards’ false certainty humans are causing dangerous climate change.

In late September, PED seemed determined not to follow NGSS climate dogma, noting instead the recent rise in temperatures is not unusual, but rather in line with our scientific understanding of historic temperature fluctuations, with the recent rise and then pause in temperatures not being unusual historically. NGSS’s climate “science” section, in contrast, accepts uncritically the false notion the science is settled, scientists agree human activities are driving dangerous climate change, carbon dioxide is a pollutant dangerous to human health and the environment, and we understand the myriad factors that drive climate change and know how to counteract their effects.

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) consistently opposes the efforts of school boards and legislatures to bring into classrooms a sound, balanced understanding of the state of climate science. The deceptively named NCSE isn’t comprised of scientists or science teachers, but rather activists devoted, in part, to global warming dogma: Humans are causing climate change; the results will be catastrophic; and governments must force people to use less energy and live “simpler” lives to prevent disaster. For NCSE and radical environmental activist groups, when the question is climate change, they want textbooks to teach students what to think, not how to think.

While carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and humans have had some effect on Earth’s climate, the most important questions remain unanswered. Are humans, or other natural conditions, responsible for the majority of the past century’s warming? Would a global warming be on balance bad or good for humanity? If humans are responsible, and the results are generally harmful, what are the best responses? On each of these points there is widespread disagreement, and anyone who says otherwise is lying.

Openness to evidence and ongoing questioning are the cornerstones of scientific discovery, yet that’s not what New Mexico’s PED apparently intends to teach.

Recognizing the political, one-size-fits all nature of NGSS, the vast majority of states have refused to adopt them. Some states have attempted to ensure when climate science is taught, educators acknowledge the significant debate ongoing within the scientific community concerning the causes and consequences of climate change.

For instance, in April 2015, West Virginia’s State Board of Education modified the national science standards’ language on climate change. Where the original standards required students to ask questions only about the rise in global temperatures, ignoring temperature declines, the new standards require them to discuss “changes,” including temperature increases, declines, and stasis. In addition, the amended standards add “natural forces” as an area of study for their possible influence on climate change.

The introduction of the climate science standards in West Virginia was amended to “ensure students will develop skills to acknowledge and distinguish claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, support arguments … with evidence, and communicate about science related topics/issues in a knowledgeable, clear and objective manner.”

More recently, in 2017, Idaho’s legislature approved new statewide science standards for K–12 education that eliminated any mention of human-caused climate change. The legislature rejected all five paragraphs contained in the originally proposed standards because they did not acknowledge the ongoing debate concerning humankind’s role in climate change. The state’s Department of Education (DOE) approved in May updated standards that said, “Human activities can have consequences (positive and negative) on the biosphere, sometimes altering natural habitats and causing the extinction of other species.”

Climate change is indeed occurring. The climate is always changing. However, there is widespread scientific debate about whether human activities are responsible for all, some, or none of the recent climate change. In addition, scientists do not agree on whether a warmer climate would result in more dangerous weather or things would actually improve in a warmer world. Science standards should reflect these uncertainties.

Schoolchildren in New Mexico and beyond deserve the truth. They can handle it. And on the causes and possible consequences of climate change, the scientific truth is there’s too much we just don’t know. Sadly, it seems PED is going to cave in to climate radicals’ anti-science agenda, to the detriment of the state’s youth.

—H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCES: U.S. News & World Report; ARS Technica; Breitbart.com;  and NIPCC


IN THIS ISSUE …

Scientists call on EPA to reconsider its “endangerment finding”Australia to focus on reliable, affordable energy, not climateData undermine sea-level-rise claimsIndia’s greenhouse gas emissions rise


STILL TIME TO REGISTER FOR AMERICA FIRST ENERGY CONFERENCE

There is still time to register for The Heartland Institute’s America First Energy Conference, being held in Houston, Texas on November 9 at the JW Marriott Galleria. Speakers include Heartland’s new president, former Congressman Tim Huelskamp; University of Delaware climate scientist David Legates; Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry; and David Bernhardt, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. You can register for the event at http://americafirstenergy.org/register/.


SCIENTISTS CALL ON EPA TO RECONSIDER ITS “ENDANGERMENT FINDING”

The Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Science and Environmental Policy Project submitted a petition signed by more than 60 noted scientists and public health experts calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its finding carbon dioxide is a danger to public health and the environment. In the October 17 letter, the authors write:

The Endangerment Finding is the basis for a host of incredibly burdensome and wide-ranging regulations, [that] … threaten access to affordable energy, as well as millions of jobs, and countless lives around the world. The finding has been used by other federal agencies to greatly expand their own regulatory programs, while other nations and international groups have relied on it to justify their own restrictions on affordable energy.

The Endangerment Finding needs to be reexamined to ensure U.S. energy policy is based on sound science.

The Concerned Household Electricity Consumers Council had previously petitioned EPA to withdraw the endangerment finding and endorsed these scientists’ letter, writing in a press release:

recent research has definitively validated that: once certain natural factor (i.e., solar, volcanic and oceanic/ENSO activity) impacts on temperature data are accounted for, there is no ‘natural factor adjusted’ warming remaining to be attributed to rising atmospheric [carbon dioxide] levels. That is, these natural factor impacts fully explain the trends in all relevant temperature data sets over the last 50 or more years. At this point, there is no statistically valid proof that past increases in atmospheric [carbon dioxide] concentrations have caused what have been officially reported as rising, or even record setting, global average surface temperatures.

Qualified scientists are speaking out concerning the lack of justification for the endangerment finding. Will EPA listen?

SOURCES: Competitive Enterprise Institute; Manhattan Contrarian; and Watts Up With That


AUSTRALIA TO FOCUS ON RELIABLE, AFFORDABLE ENERGY, NOT CLIMATE

Australia’s federal government is rejecting the Clean Energy Target (CET) recommended by its chief scientist, Alan Finkel, in favor of a new energy plan to reduce electricity prices and improve grid reliability.

The new plan will require electric power plant operators to provide three years’ notice before closing a power station and force retailers to guarantee the supply of a set amount of dispatchable power—power that can be switched on and off on demand to avoid power failures. The plan will also evidently delay until 20130 Australia’s deadline for meeting its Paris climate commitments.

Previously, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had endorsed CET’s renewable energy mandates and a cap-and-trade scheme for carbon dioxide emissions that would have resulted in the premature closure of many of Australia’s coal-fired power plants.

Many members of Parliament and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott argued CET was effectively a “tax on coal,” raising energy costs for no good reason.

“Tony Abbott has had a victory here,” said Jason Clare, a member of Parliament, according to ABC News. “Remember Malcolm Turnbull appointed the Chief Scientist, asked him for a report said his proposal was the right one and now after Tony Abbott makes a speech … he is running away from that at 100 miles an hour. The transformation from Malcolm Turnbull to Tony Abbott now seems complete.”

SOURCE: ABC News


DATA UNDERMINE SEA-LEVEL-RISE CLAIMS

In a recent study Dennis E. Hedke, past president of the Geophysical Society of Kansas and the Kansas Geological Society, analyzes data collected from ten coastal cities with long-term, reliable sea-level records to establish whether recent climate change is causing seas to rise at an increasing rate. Climate models project sea levels should be rising at an increasing rate, with the most conservative climate model projecting a sea-level rise between 9 and 17 inches by approximately 2090.

According to Hedke’s work, despite rising carbon dioxide: Sea levels at Cueta, Spain have been nearly flat over the past century; the rate of sea level rise in Honolulu, Hawaii; Mumbai, India; Sydney, Australia; and Slipshavn, Denmark is less than half what is projected by the models. The rate of rise in St. Petersburg and Fernandina Beach, Florida are at the low end of climate model projections, with the rate not increasing beyond the average experienced during the twentieth century. The rate of rise at Atlantic City, New Jersey and Port Isabel, Texas are below but near the high end of climate model projections; while Sitka, Alaska is actually experiencing declining sea levels. These data show no consistent evidence the rate of sea-level rise has increased, that sea levels are rising at an unusual rate when compared to recent history, or that there is any correlation between the ongoing rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and sea levels.

SOURCE: The Heartland Institute


INDIA’S GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS RISE

India’s greenhouse gas emissions grew 4.7 percent between 2015 and 2016, a faster rate than between 2014 and 2015, and by an amount far more than other large greenhouse gas emitting countries. If this trend continues, India’s government will fail to meet its greenhouse gas emissions commitments made in the Paris climate agreement.

India’s major source of greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide from coal and other fossil-fuel-fired power plants, which generate 70 percent of the nation’s electricity. Coal consumption in India grew 4 percent in 2016. The only other major emitter of greenhouse gases with increased emissions in 2016 was the European Union, whose emissions grew by 0.2 percent. Emissions in the United States, which is withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, declined by 2 percent in 2016 while China, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, experienced a modest 0.3 percent emissions decrease as it shut some small power plants and restricted automobile use to fight smog.

SOURCE: Hindustan Times

Author
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
hsburnett@heartland.org

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