We know the fossil fuel industry has funneled cash into efforts to teach climate change "skepticism" in schools. Steve Horn has documented the fingerprints of the American Legislative Council (ALEC) on identical bills introduced in Oklahoma, Arizona, and Colorado to teach children that climate changes and the causes are controversial (see Daily Kos, PolicyMic, DeSmogBlog). This latest push comes on the heels of the ALEC "Environmental Literacy Improvement Act" being introduced in eleven states, passing in four (Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana, and South Dakota). The Heartland Institute also raised $200,000 last year to develop a curriculum that satisfies the ALEC legislation.
When I see this much smoke, I start looking for the fire. I suspect one impetus for the disinformation frenzy is that new education standards are being developed for science.
New national science standards that make the teaching of global warming part of the public school curriculum are slated to be released this month, potentially ending an era in which climate skepticism has been allowed to seep into the nation's classrooms.So that is why the fossil fools have been so busy trying to pass ALEC bills in 14 states with more to surely follow suit. James Taylor, a senior fellow at the Heartland Institute, stomped his feet but said his group has no plans to fight the adoption of the new standards. Of course not, James, your group is a member of ALEC and you know they will lead the charge because they have the really big bucks.
The Next Generation Science Standards were developed by the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the nonprofit Achieve and more than two dozen states. The latest draft recommends that educators teach the evidence for man-made climate change starting as early as elementary school and incorporate it into all science classes, ranging from earth science to chemistry. By eighth grade, students should understand that "human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming)," the standards say.
There are several things about this initiative that are worth cheering. First, large scientific societies were involved in the creation of the new standards, including the National Research Council and American Association for the Advancement of Science. Second, state education authorities from 26 states have been involved in the creation of the new standards and at least 15 more states have indicated that they will likely adopt them as well. Textbook publishers have already begun creating new editions that satisfy the new standards, including climate science components.
One big change is that the new standards were developed with input from states. Previous standards were developed in 1996 without state input and were never really adopted. This time, the scientific community followed the model used to implement new standards for English and mathematics.
The first and only federal science standards were published by the National Research Council in 1996 under the name National Science Education Standards. But because they were created without input from states, they were largely ignored by states, said McCaffrey, from NCSE.It will be interesting to see how all this plays out in states like Texas that have already passed the ALEC climate disinformation law. Traditionally, Texas has had a lot of sway over textbook content, but the veto power of big states has been weakened in the digital publishing age. The Texas Education Agency sounds like it will develop its own standards, no doubt leaving out any inconvenient references to fossil fueled climate change. Here is where it might get interesting. Texas state law gives considerable latitude to local school boards to adopt textbooks so districts with sane people have options to make sure their children meet more rigorous science standards.
In 2010, the council was inspired to tackle the standards again. The Common Core State Standards for English language arts and mathematics had just been adopted by 45 states, thanks in part to an effort by the National Governors Association and others to include teachers and education experts from as many states as possible in the process.
The National Research Council decided to take the same collaborative approach with new science standards.
Climate science has also come a long way in the past 15 years. With the basic link between carbon gas emissions and global temperatures firmly established, the focus has shifted to other effects destabilizing our climate system will have in the future. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, ocean acidification, sea level rise, hydrological system disruption, and other impacts will be added to education curricula.
On some level, the efforts of ALEC and the fossil fuels industry to muddle the heads of children is far worse than the lies they sell through the media, lobbyists, and conservative political groups. The grade school children of today will personally experience the effects of a vastly altered climate system. They deserve to know the legacy being given to them by these self-centered and sadistic captains of industry.
This quote from Mark McCaffrey of the National Center for Science Education is telling.
"The standards have been under the radar, and deliberately so. Evolution and climate change are politically and ideologically controversial, even if they aren't scientifically controversial ... It is almost inevitable that they will get some pushback."The reason these issues are controversial is because the conservative movement is dominated by religious fundamentalists and corporate power brokers. Their insecurities and greed trump facts. The next time you hear a Tea Party loon refer to themselves as an "objectivist," laugh in their face.
It is refreshing to see more attention being paid to the corrosive influence of ALEC. Light scatters roaches.
There is one more bit of good news. The ALEC-sponsored climate disinformation bills in Kansas, Colorado, and Arizona have died. The fate of the same bill in Oklahoma, home of the great hoax James Inhofe, is still up in the air.
Other Climate Impact News
Maryland passes an offshore wind development plan. The good news is that it finally passed. The bad news is that the plan was scaled back to the point that it will bring less bang for the buck.ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A measure to help develop a wind project off the coast of Ocean City by requiring electricity suppliers to buy offshore renewable energy credits passed the Maryland Senate on Friday.Former Secretary of State George Shultz lectures Congress on the need for action on climate change. The good news is that a Republican is talking about climate change. The bad news is the he thinks fracking America is part of the equation.
The measure that passed 30-15 has been a priority for Gov. Martin O’Malley, who pushed unsuccessfully for the bill for two years before finally finding success with a scaled-back proposal. The bill was already passed this session by the House of Delegates, which will only have to sign off on several small changes the Senate made before sending it off to O’Malley to sign.
George P. Shultz, a former Republican cabinet secretary, seems an unlikely figure to fight for climate change, which is largely the political turf of Democrats.Carbon dioxide levels are rising faster than ever. Talk and promises are no match for the growing consumption of fossil fuels.
But climate change was exactly why Mr. Shultz, who is best remembered as Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state, came to Washington on Friday, breaking a 20-year absence from Capitol Hill to push lawmakers to support the development of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, and alternative energy.
“If we can capitalize on these opportunities, we’ll have a much better energy future from the standpoint of our national defense, from the standpoint of our economy and from the standpoint of our environment, including climate change,” he said at a conference.
The chances of the world holding temperature rises to 2C – the level of global warming considered "safe" by scientists – appear to be fading fast with US scientists reporting the second-greatest annual rise in CO2 emissions in 2012.American insurance companies are unprepared for climate change impacts. Insurance companies based in Europe have been closely monitoring the rising cost of claims from climate-fueled natural disasters, but American companies have to tread lightly for fear of offending delicate conservative sensibilities.
Carbon dioxide levels measured at at Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii jumped by 2.67 parts per million (ppm) in 2012 to 395ppm, said Pieter Tans, who leads the greenhouse gas measurement team for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The record was an increase of 2.93ppm in 1998.
The jump comes as a study published in Science on Thursday looking at global surface temperatures for the past 1,500 years warned that "recent warming is unprecedented", prompting UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres, to say that "staggering global temps show urgent need to act. Rapid climate change must be countered with accelerated action."
Tans told the Associated Press the major factor was an increase in fossil fuel use. "It's just a testament to human influence being dominant", he said. "The prospects of keeping climate change below that [two-degree goal] are fading away."
Most insurance companies do not have comprehensive strategies to cope with climate change despite mounting weather-related claims, says a report to be released Thursday.
Of 184 companies surveyed, only 23 had such strategies, and 13 of those that did were foreign-owned, according to report by Ceres, a Boston-based non-profit that promotes eco-minded business practices. The report says the most prepared tend to be the largest companies with scientists on staff and those that insure property rather than life or health.
Many companies "won't talk about climate change" and if they do, they use "hedged" language to avoid the controversial issue of whether it's man-made, says author Sharlene Leurig, senior manager of Ceres' insurance program. She says the issue is less politically divisive in Europe, where insurers are often better prepared.
Help Us Spread the Word About Climate Change
For those of you on Facebook and Twitter: Please help to spread the word by hitting the FB and Tweet links at the top of this diary and if you have time, join the discussion with comments. Share such postings with friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances.
Thanks, as all of this helps build the Climate Change movement as well as introducing critically important ideas about renewable sources of energy.