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Just when you thought climate denial hadn't already pervaded every arena of public and private life...

Texas and Louisiana have introduced education standards that require educators to teach climate change denial as a valid scientific position.

The LA Times story has more:

Although scientific evidence increasingly shows that fossil fuel consumption has caused the climate to change rapidly, the issue has grown so politicized that skepticism of the broad scientific consensus has seeped into classrooms.

Texas and Louisiana have introduced education standards that require educators to teach climate change denial as a valid scientific position. South Dakota and Utah passed resolutions denying climate change. Tennessee and Oklahoma also have introduced legislation to give climate change skeptics a place in the classroom.


NCSE, a small, nonpartisan group of scientists, teachers, clergy and concerned individuals, rose to prominence in the last decade defending evolution in the curriculum.

The controversy around "climate change education is where evolution was 20 years ago," said Eugenie Scott, executive director of NCSE.

At that time, evolution — the long-tested scientific theory that varieties of life forms emerged through biological processes like natural selection and mutation — was patchily taught. Teaching standards have been developed since then, but it's unclear how widely evolution is taught, given teachers' fear of controversy.

Studies show that teachers often set aside evolution for fear of a backlash. Scott worries this could happen with climate science too.

"The question is self-censorship and intimidation. What you have to watch for is the 'hecklers' veto,' " she said. "If a teacher ignores a particular topic, it will likely go unnoticed."

One thing I've noticed is that a small minority of voices, when well positioned, can stymie the voices of reason.  Conservative ideologues have been filling the school boards, city councils, etc. for too long---it's a stealth campaign that's been going on for years now, and it's working.  They're changing the curriculum in schools, funding priorities in cities away from public institutions and public services (say, public transit), etc.

There's two direct responses (and many more indirect responses) to this sort of action:

1. Run for elected office.  Yeah, it's crazy, but why not?  I'm talking about starting small: school board, city committees, city council, maybe even mayor.

2. Talk about climate change.  Talk about energy problems.  They're counting on the silence of the 63% of Americans who know the planet is warming.

This latter point bears some repeating.  Denialists of basic, established science like evolution and climate change are counting on us to not speak up.  They're looking to muddy the waters, to make the issue seem taboo, without consensus or merit.  Everyone knows the old argument---we don't "teach both sides" of the theory of gravity.

There was a good piece at Climate Pirate making the case that speaking up is the most important step:

Let’s circle back to Climate Change. Many are worried about it, as well we should be. But we’re also too quiet. Nearly all of the non-experts I know who care about Climate Change avoid it for fear of feather-ruffling. Even many experts keep quiet.

A key point is that those who want action on Climate Change outnumber those who don’t, and it has been so for years. This means the pro-action side can dominate if we choose. We have only to raise our voices.

So the most important thing each of us, as individuals, can do is speak up and convince others to as well. This goes especially for everyday folks who aren’t already considered partisans. Everyone expects Al Gore to talk Climate Change, so that’s nothing new, but if someone who’s never spoken up before suddenly starts, ears will perk.

Beware: others will try to discourage you, often with good intentions. I recently listened to a marketing pro tell a sustainability group to avoid mentioning Climate Change because it’s too divisive. It’s common marketing advice and it’s wrong. Creating change isn’t like selling widgets. The obstacles to success are different. Pepsi lovers don’t feel pressure to avoid talking about or drinking Pepsi in the presence of Coke drinkers, for example. Marketing pros aren’t aware of the silence problem so they give bad advice.

The silence problem can only be fixed through exposure. Every time I speak plainly, a listener feels freer to follow suit. Our silence allows deniers to advertise their beliefs and implies to the undecided that there’s no problem.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I think most people get that we are warming the (0+ / 0-)


    The problem is that there are no solutions.

    •  Not true... (4+ / 0-)

      There are plenty of "solutions".  It depends on what we define as a solution.  Can we rapidly remove CO2 from the atmosphere?  Probably not.  But we can (and will) decrease emissions, and thereby reduce warming impact.  The question is whether we'll do it by enough to prevent natural feedbacks from taking over.  If we're successful in the latter, then over a long period of time---centuries or millennia---the Earth's systems will reabsorb the CO2. - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 01:19:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well There Are Certainly No Governmental Solutions (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The forces driving acceleration of the damage have spent 35 years gaining greater control over government today than ever in our history. There's no prayer of getting government to have the practical power to act both appropriately and  within the time frame science says is required.

        Half a century ago government was its most powerful compared to the top end of the economy, and even then the scale of action needed for climate change was beyond anything anybody would have thought possible.

        It could take us 50, 100 years to put together sufficient political power given that ownership is fully aware of the problem yet committed to accelerating it.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 01:24:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're right about the short term (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ngk01001, SolarMom, Andhakari

          It does seem unlikely that we'll be able to take action in time (if we take when many scientists---everyone from Jim Hansen to the IEA---are saying about needing to reverse emissions by around 2016).

          The best case scenario would be re-electing President Obama, getting a strong progressive majority in the house and senate, and passing tough climate legislation (preferably a clean-energy dividend bill like Hansen has proposed, that gives 100% dividend back of fees assessed on carbon).  That'd probably pass at soonest at the end of 2013, take a couple of years to set up and go into effect around maybe 2015 or 2016.  Too late, in the best case, and it wouldn't address the global picture.

          Our best bet for decreasing emissions is a global recession...really a series of them (with partial recoveries in between).  And that may happen.

 - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

          by barath on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 01:29:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's about right (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            But it's also important to support and push for those gov't actions that can happen, and have happened:  EPA rules accelerating the move away from coal;  federal fuel economy standards, for one thing.

            Also pushing for renewal of the production tax credit and 1603 grant program for wind, institution of a federal clean energy standard with energy efficiency, a carbon tax (this is a more remote possibility)...

            We need to be on top of all these things, plus all the important work happening at the state level (like renewable porfolio standards, and energy efficiency resource standards) and local level (building codes, etc.).

            It all may not be enough, but it will help.

            “Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.” -- FDR, 1936

            by SolarMom on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 09:39:40 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  ??? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        But we can (and will) decrease emissions, and thereby reduce warming impact.

        How do you expect us to reduce emissions in the face of a rising human population?  It isn't happening and I doubt that it will happen until the earth runs out of fossil fuels.

        •  Limits to Growth (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SolarMom, alizard

          We're roughly at peak oil, and with it the end of economic growth.  One way or another we'll decrease emissions.  The question, as I tried to explore a few weeks ago in a discussion of climate change vs. peak oil is whether the decrease in growth from peak oil will be sufficient to decrease emissions, or whether the dirty alternatives (tar sands, etc.) will still produce enough emissions to put us over the top.

 - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

          by barath on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 01:32:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree with you on Hansen and the tax (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            and dividend as you mention upstairs.

            But even after oil, there is coal and natural gas which Hansen is worried about.  Hansen thinks we are going to use up all the earth's oil whatever.

            Do you know that the Chinese have built or are building a highway system that will rival ours in the USA?

            After I heard that I gave up on any hope of arresting global warming.  Maybe global warming won't be so bad.  It makes for milder winters in the midwest which is nice.  Maybe we will be able to grow oranges and figs in Ohio.

        •  War. Famine. Pestilence. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Calamity Jean, Andhakari

          We either limit ourselves to what the environment can sustain, or 'the Old Firm' do it for us.

      •  pissing into the wind (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        barath, Andhakari

        Any proposed solutions to global warming that ignore the larger cause of unchecked and exponential growth of human population is simply pissing into the wind. and destined for failure.

    •  I disagree (0+ / 0-)

      I think rampant confusion has been sewn very effectively (God knows the deniers have spent enough money on propaganda), and while people know our weather patterns are significantly changing, they don't really understand what it's all about.

      The most depressing part is that you can put the data in front of confused people, and most of them will steadfastly remain confused and unconvinced.

    •  #1 stop burning coal. #2 replace it with... (0+ / 0-)

      ... solar, wind, and yes, nuclear (look up thorium fission: it can't be used to make atomic bombs).  

      #3, male birth control pill.

      #4, "Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.
      Maybe Christmas, he thought, means a little bit more!"  (from The Grinch who stole Christmas, a subversive anti-consumptionism message from Dr. Seuss)

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 09:54:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There are solutions. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    James Wells, Calamity Jean

    It requires shifting away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and renewables. The transition need not be particularly painful. It's just that there is an immense, well financed campaign to resist anything that implies buying less fossil fuels. See the campaign against CFLs.

  •  Refuse to be silenced! (5+ / 0-)

    Globals warming and resource overshoot generally needs to be in everyday conversation.  It's critical not to be bullied into silence.

    Seems to be the theme of the day - like Angry deniers.

    When I had a go at this recently (Cronkite Moment, Part I) , I added this it's incredibly useful to have very simple points especially based on the fact that very smart people know that these are are serious issues (paraphrase from post and from comments):

    I guess someone needs to tell those tree huggers at the CIA and the Pentagon that there's no need to make any more plans based on global warming threats.
    Okay, please call up the shippers who are sending ships through sea lanes that have not been free of ice for thousands of years, and let them know that it's not actually happening.

    It's absolutely not necessary to convince the denier, because you won't.  First and foremost, it's critical to assert your right to be heard and not abused.

    We shall not participate in our own destruction.

    by James Wells on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 01:56:51 PM PST

    •  OCCUPY the bastards. Shut them down! (0+ / 0-)

      Sheesh, this shit is becoming so pandemic I'll just have to re-post my comment from the diary dealing with the Arizona Board of Education banning Mexican American authors and banning Shakespeare:


      The f---ing obscurantists and philistines are everywhere!

      This kind of shit downright demands to have a huge peaceful sit-in, right in their offices, to the point where it's way past sitting-and-standing-room-only and there are sitters-in sitting on desks and on top of filing cabinets and practically having to climb the potted plants and hide in the drop-ceiling to find enough places to sit-in.  

      And don't forget MIC CHECK at the Board of Ed meetings, which should also include readings from Shakespeare (and James Hansen from NASA!).

      For extra fun & games, bring rolls of toilet paper to play Catch with.  Political littering is nonviolent, and TP streamers send a decent message after the demonstrators have all cleared out before they'd have gotten arrested.  


      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 09:57:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What the F***? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    Oh great, so now tiny little opinions formed by active opposition to the truth is mandated.

    So, what's the NEXT one yer gonna mandate?  Holocaust Denial?  I mean that has supporters!  There are questions about it.  Can we really claim to be educating the young if we DON'T force them to learn about denial literature and how it's ONLY the search to truly understand the problem?

    Color me disgusted.

    One of these days, I'm gonna learn that I'm only really good at convincing people when I'm being a wiseass.

    by detroitmechworks on Mon Jan 16, 2012 at 02:16:42 PM PST

  •  A few thoughts (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    1) you don't need a solution to correctly identify and discuss a problem; 2) Texas keeps messing with educational standards, the easy solution to that problem is the elite universities, the ones Texas elites hope to get their own kids into, should start rejecting applicants from Texas as intellectually substandard. That would stop this bullshit right quick. 3) The increasingly widespread rejection of science by the right is a very hopeful sign that that particular ideology is headed for a cliff and absolute destruction, because science, eventually, always wins.

    •  TX elite kids will be in (0+ / 0-)

      high end private schools in which  real science is taught. Laws stating otherwise will be ignored and not enforced.

      Cliate denial "science" will be taught as "the hokum we feed the masses."

      It's the kids whose parents can't afford to send them to real schools who won't be going to school with the elite, regardless of intelligence.

      Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Tue Jan 17, 2012 at 02:00:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  they also want ID not evolution (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    next they will ban school innoculations

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