Skip to main content

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.

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.

Inside Climate News, article by Katherine Bagley

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.

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.

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.

Inside Climate News, article by Katherine Bagley

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.

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.

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.

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.
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.

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.

Carbon dioxide levels are rising faster than ever. Talk and promises are no match for the growing consumption of fossil fuels.
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.

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."

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.
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.

Originally posted to Climate Hawks on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 09:20 AM PST.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  One Of My Favorite Things Is Corn Day (8+ / 0-)

    I go to the 4H center and pay $7.50. I get a some tea, a chicken breast, and folks walk around with buckets of corn. People eat corn until we can't stand.

    You may wonder why I mention that.

    I live in a rural area. People farm for a living. Work the land. Corn is almost a religion. Growing it is a way of life.

    I go out and talk to folks as the hippie liberal I am and they tell me climate change is just a fact. These are not liberal folks. In almost every other instance hardcore Republican.

    If ALEC tried to say to my school we couldn't teach about climate change, and we pride ourseleves on our schools, they would be run out of town on a rail.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 09:40:14 AM PST

    •  No doubt there are sane conservatives (3+ / 0-)

      There was a time when protecting the environment was not controversial. I suspect the change has come in the Republican power brokers. Religious conservatives are effectively managed by the likes of Richard Land, Tony Perkins, James Dobson, and Donald Wildmon. Even though there is a strong "Creation Care" movement among evangelicals, there is top down pressure to control it and keep in check. Likewise, the fossil fuel industry has become the most powerful force in the Republican Party because of the money coming in from individuals and corporations as they look to control energy policy.

      I have no problem interacting with the conservatives you describe. The ones I cannot talk to are those that sit in front of Fox News and think the world is flat because Bill O'Reilly said so.

      Be radical in your compassion.

      by DWG on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 09:52:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Here Is The View Outside My Front Door (5+ / 0-)

        Winter Wheat

        That would be winter wheat and not corn, cause we still rotate crops. Best I can tell that isn't the case in many places with large corporate farms, which is most likely a problem in and of itself.

        I often joke if you want to understand about cliimate change talk to two groups of people.

        Scientist and people that work the land for a living. Both, in my experience, will tell you the same thing. Climate change is real.

        When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

        by webranding on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 10:00:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  You are fortunate in that regard. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      webranding, John Crapper, phonegery

      Utah is full of deranged deniers.

      One of the major differences between Democrats and Republicans is that the former have the moral imagination to see the moral dimension of financial affairs, while the latter do not. Pragmatists are the exception.

      by Words In Action on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 09:53:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  How much time do we have left before (0+ / 0-)

      the climate change is irreversable?  Best case, worst case guesses?  

      Time is a long river.

      by phonegery on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 11:18:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Please forgive me for ... (8+ / 0-)

    ...putting up an OT notice in this diary, but it is relevant:

    The weekly Green Diary Rescue is returning today after an 19-month hiatus. This round-up of Daily Kos environmentally related diaries will appear Saturdays at 1 p.m. Pacific Time.
    Please come read and comment.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 10:04:59 AM PST

  •  We have so much ALEC sponsored stuff in GA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DWG, phonegery

    it makes my head spin.
    The (R) governor just suspended my local school board and 403 people applied for the spots. That's a good thing only if none of them are ALEC plants. One of the suspended members was in my opinion.
    I expect her to apply for and receive reinstatement.

    Regarding the insurance co's being unprepared, if I were them I would offer to have any trees near houses that have been subjected to years of drought stress and then this years rains, inspected and taken down "on the house" before they fall on the houses.

    •  Funny you should mention trees (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      phonegery, Burned

      My parent's live in central Virginia. They have had two ancient hardwoods come down in storms recently, one hitting the house. Prolonged heat and drought had stressed the trees.

      Removing old growth trees is a mixed bag. These are important carbon sinks and provide shade. Rather than make people remove them, increasing premiums to amortize the risk based on claims experience makes sense. Under non-drought conditions, these trees are less of a problem. During prolonged droughts (and likely watering restrictions), the risk increases dramatically.

      Be radical in your compassion.

      by DWG on Sat Mar 09, 2013 at 11:16:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just the ones that can't be saved (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I wait until mine don't leaf out before I cut them down, which is probably not safe, and I have four baby oaks in pots out front, waiting to get dog proof big enough before I put them out back to replace the old ones.

        Trees are falling all over Atlanta after years of drought conditions and watering restrictions. On people, cars, apartment buildings, and houses. It's going to get worse when they leaf out.

  •  Great, entertaining and inspiring! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The series of very short films "Young Voices for the Planet" is really inspirational. It's important to give hope, not just the facts of our problems.

    Treat yourself to

    Teachers' guides and links coming soon.

    The important part is that our next generation needs inspiration, not threats.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site