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Many Science Teachers Not Stampeded into Climate Alarmism

February 26, 2016

Climate Change Weekly #204 I recently found hope in an unexpected place: the public schools.

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Climate Change Weekly #204

I recently found hope in an unexpected place: the public schools. It seems a national teacher survey of 1,500 middle and high school science teachers, representing all 50 states, conducted by the National Center for Science Education and published in the journal Science, found just half of teachers discussing climate change in the classroom have drunk the alarmists’ Kool-Aid and are brainwashing students to believe humans are causing catastrophic climate change.

Approximately 75 percent of science teachers reported they discuss global warming in the classroom, typically for less than an hour or two over the course of an academic year. Of those who do, just over half push the alarmists’ line that 97 percent of scientists have determined human fossil fuel use is causing catastrophic climate change. About 30 percent of science teachers who discuss climate change say humans may be partly to blame, but natural factors also play a role. Approximately 10 percent of science teachers deny humans play any role in climate change, and about 5 percent of those who discuss climate change in the classroom don’t discuss causes at all.

Image credit: cartoonist Ramirez of the Weekly Standard, via http://www.ibdeditorials.com/cartoons.

Of course those conducting the survey, being global warming true believers themselves, were aghast to learn almost half of those teaching climate science in middle and high schools displayed any skepticism whatsoever concerning the (sole) human causes and dangerous consequences of climate change. Refreshingly, while nearly 68 percent of those surveyed said they personally believed humans were causing global warming, many left their personal opinions out of the classroom, choosing to advance the scientific method and present a balanced view of the evidence.

Quite frankly, based on failed efforts I and others had at keeping both sides of the climate change debate in social studies textbooks Texas approved for adoption in 2014, and the battle we had to prevent sound climate science from being written out of West Virginia’s science standards, I feared the battle for the hearts and minds of America’s youth on the climate issues was long lost.

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 be on balance harmful or beneficial. To the extent climate change is discussed in the classroom, what’s taught should reflect these uncertainties.

Thankfully, it appears nearly half the science educators teaching climate change in the classroom agree the children under their care deserve being taught this truth.

The ultimate take-away from this survey? There is still time for proponents of sound, constantly skeptical science – those who promote evidence over theory and realism over alarmism – to make their case to science teachers in the public schools. I believe a concerted outreach effort by climate realists to engage teachers in the climate change debate is warranted and might be the most long-lasting way to ensure misanthropic climate policies are not foisted upon an unaware, misinformed public now and in the future.

-- H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCES: NPR; Yahoo News; Dallas Morning News; and Brietbart


IN THIS ISSUE …

Coalition supports house anti-carbon tax resolutionGovernment misleads on the benefits of climate policiesNew York’s climate probe legally problematicCleaner boat fuels cause climate concernsCarbon removal projects risk environmental harm


COALITION SUPPORTS HOUSE ANTI-CARBON TAX RESOLUTION

A coalition representing 22 research institutes, legal foundations, and grassroots activist groups submitted a letter to House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) expressing support for his House Concurrent Resolution 89, expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would harm the U.S. economy.

The letter notes multiple independent analyses, including reports by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), have found “Such marketplace manipulation represents a recipe for unintended consequences and self-inflicted economic damage … [and would be] ... regressive, imposing disproportionately high costs on middle- and lower-income families and thereby harming most those who can afford it least.”

NAM found a carbon tax could eliminate the equivalent of 21 million jobs over the next 40 years and reduce workers’ wages by up to 8.5 percent. CBO noted a carbon tax would cost the poorest one-fifth of American households two-and-a-half times more than the richest one-fifth of households.

Responding to the coalition’s letter, Scalise released a statement saying, “A national energy tax would cripple America’s economy, raise electricity bills, and cost families more money when they fill up at the pump. I’m glad that nearly two dozen free-market groups have joined the growing army that supports my legislation to halt President Obama’s proposed job-killing carbon tax.”

SOURCES: Coalition Letter and Rep. Steve Scalise


GOVERNMENT MISLEADS ON THE BENEFITS OF CLIMATE POLICIES

A distinguished group of scholars from a diverse group of organizations has produced a new report stating when considering domestic action to reduce the impacts of climate change, U.S. agencies should limit their estimates to the domestic benefits, not benefits to the world. The Obama administration does just the opposite, using global estimates of “social cost of carbon” (SCC) and the social value of reduced climate damages from regulations that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The scholars point out,

Use of a global SCC as the sole summary measure of the value of reducing GHG emissions through federal rulemaking lacks transparency and leaves such actions at odds with the expressed intent of authorizing statutes passed by Congress and long-standing federal regulatory policy. [F]ederal agencies – operating under laws directing them to protect national interests – are now issuing regulations with significant costs to U.S. residents and citizens based on a finding that benefits, including substantial benefits to foreigners, “justify” those costs.

The difference between global and domestic benefits is huge, with global SCC four to 14 times greater than estimated domestic SCC. By using the global SCC, federal agencies are hiding the fact climate regulations impose substantial costs on Americans to produce benefits for residents of foreign countries.

SOURCES: Forbes and Resources for the Future


NEW YORK’S CLIMATE PROBE LEGALLY PROBLEMATIC

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s investigation of Exxon Corporation’s climate efforts, including donations to think tanks and associations, violates Exxon’s First Amendment rights to engage in scholarship, advocacy, and other forms of protected speech. Hans Bader of the Competitive Enterprise Institute notes federal courts have found, “A prolonged investigation in response to someone’s speech can violate the First Amendment even when it never leads to a fine.” A string of federal court precedents also indicates the constitutional rights Schneiderman is trampling are not just Exxon’s but those of the organizations to which it gave donations, if his investigation “causes them to lose donations they would otherwise receive. Government officials cannot pressure a private party to take adverse action against a speaker.”

Prof. Philip Hamburger of Columbia Law School writes Schneiderman’s subpoena power under New York’s Martin Act is legally problematic: It imperils due process and the separation of powers because it lacks judicial supervision and the normal protection against self-incrimination.

SOURCE: Cato Institute


CLEANER BOAT FUELS CAUSE CLIMATE CONCERNS

A new study in the Journal of Geophysical Research warns the push to use cleaner boat fuels may result in additional warming. Fishing boats emit carbon dioxide, sulfur oxides, and black carbon during their operation. Elliott Campbell and Brandi McKuin, environmental engineers at the University of California – Merced, found the amount of black carbon (a form of soot) emitted by incomplete combustion has been underestimated by an order of magnitude in previous studies. Black carbon tends to warm the areas affected by it because of its ability to absorb radiation from the sun. The cooling effect of sulfur oxides, which counteracts the warming effect of black carbon and carbon dioxide as sulfate particles reflect sunlight back to space themselves and contribute to cloud formation that reflects sunlight away from the Earth, has also not been properly accounted for. Campbell and McKuin calculate as sulfur emissions decline due to regulations curtailing sulfur in fuels, sulfur oxides’ cooling effect will also fall while the warming impacts of black carbon will remain.

SOURCE: Science Mag


CARBON REMOVAL PROJECTS RISK ENVIRONMENTAL HARM

In new study in Nature, Phil Williamson of the UK’s University of East Anglia warns radical geo-engineering proposals to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to fight climate change could result in greater environmental harm than benefits. Williamson explores a variety of schemes to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, finding each of them comes with environmental risks.

For instance, Williamson notes growing crops to use in power stations could “use up to 580 million hectares of land – or half of the land area of the US. This would in turn accelerate the loss of forests and natural grassland with impacts for wildlife, whilst also having implications for food security.” Another possible climate fix would be to add crushed silicate rocks to the Earth’s land surface to chemically absorb carbon dioxide, yet adding enough crushed silicate rocks to the soil, over almost half of the Earth’s land surface, could cost up to $600 trillion. According to Williamson, “Present climate policy assumes that one or more of [the geo-engineering solutions] will work at the scale required, yet we just don’t know if that is the case,” and many carbon dioxide removal techniques proposed “will have knock-on effects for ecosystems and biodiversity. There could be benefits, but damage seems more likely.”

SOURCE: Eureka Alert

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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