Latest posts by H. Sterling Burnett (see all)
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The Texas State Board of Education (TSBOE) is in the process of adopting new social studies and history textbooks. Once approved, the books will likely be used in schools for more than a decade, and because Texas is a huge market for textbooks, other states often adopt the choices Texas determines, thus making this decision particularly influential.
With the ability to influence millions of schoolchildren regarding climate change, environmental alarmists are trying to ensure their message is the only one heard.
Alarmists claim the science is certain: Humans are causing catastrophic climate change and governments must force people to use less energy to prevent disaster. According to a statement by Minda Berbeco, director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), “The scientific debate over whether climate change is happening and who is responsible has been over for years.”
Berbeco and other activists want textbooks to teach students what to think, not how to think.
To be clear, climate change is occurring; the climate is always changing. However, there is an ongoing, heated, and widespread scientific debate over whether human activities are responsible for all, some, or none of the recent climate change. In addition, there is certainly no agreement a warmer climate will result in more dangerous weather patterns or climate conditions than we already experience.
Although flawed climate models continue to project disaster, all the actual measurements and data show, despite decades of increasing CO2 emissions, weather patterns haven’t changed for the worse. Droughts, tornadoes, and hurricanes have not increased in number or intensity on average over the past 150 years. And although sea level is rising, the pace of rise has slowed rather than accelerated in recent years, and the rise is attributable entirely to natural processes. These are the recorded facts.
The predictions of catastrophe are based on models that ignore all these facts and failed to predict the current 18-year lack of increase in Earth’s average temperature, which has happened despite rising CO2 levels. All the models have assumed and continue to assume the increase in CO2 is the culprit causing temperature increases. The models are wrong.
Ignoring actual data, the NCSE falls back on politics—the politics of consensus based on a claim 97 percent of climate scientists agree humans are causing dangerous global warming. The 97 percent claim, however, comes primarily from one study, the author of which badly misrepresented his findings.
Of the papers the author surveyed, only 1.6 percent actually said human greenhouse gas emissions were responsible for more than half of the 20th century warming. To get his 97 percent figure, he counted every paper that did not explicitly reject the claim humans are causing climate change, as agreeing humans are causing most climate change.
A number of researchers objected to having the survey count their papers as agreeing humans were responsible for a majority of the warming when, in fact, their research indicated no such conclusion. Many of the papers cited as part of the “consensus” found there was insufficient evidence to show a human link to warming or found warming was due largely to natural causes. All of this has resulted in a hue and cry to recant the 97 percent claim and withdraw the paper.
Even if the 97 percent claim is accurate, it doesn’t at all address the veracity of the claim that climate change, whether human-caused or natural, will have catastrophic consequences for human societies. That’s pure speculation.
The textbooks in question don’t deny human-caused global warming is happening; they just accurately report scientists are still debating the question. They present the evidence and ask the students to make up their own minds.
Having an open mind it what climate alarmists really object to.
A couple of textbook publishers, including Pearson Education this week, buckled to the activists’ demands and replaced the scientific understanding of climate with the politically driven, dogmatic claim humans are causing dangerous climate change. Reasonable people will praise and McGraw-Hill for, so far, resisting the alarmists’ pressure tactics.
The Texas Board of Education is justifiably acting cautiously to ensure its textbooks rigorously present the best science available and accurately portray ongoing debates, including those over climate change. They are right to do so and should only endorse textbooks that uphold critical thinking and skepticism in the face of unsupportable claims of pending climate disaster.