The Lorax investigates the teaching of climate change

The Lorax investigates the teaching of climate change
Act now!

“Mrs. Stern, it’s true.”

“What’s true, Ross?” I am very careful, especially when I am teaching scientific concepts, to distinguish fact from theory.

“The Lorax, Mrs. Stern, he’s off to Whyoming.”

This is not a typo. My students and I have renamed that state because the Whyoming legislature seems to have succumbed to political and economic pressure and forgotten how to question. Hence the emphasis on WHY.

My guess was that the Lorax had reappeared because of the WHAT. What happened is that the State of Whyoming rejected the Next Generation Science Standards last month. And WHAT was the reason--those standards treated climate change as fact. On March 14, 2014, Leah Todd of the Star Tribune reported that the governor and the chairman of the state board of education, as well as certain members of the legislature, were admitted proponents of a fossil fuel economy and greenhouse skeptics. See, http://trib.com/news/local/education/wyoming-blocks-new-science-standards/article_5d0ec624-6b50-5354-b015-ca2f5f7d7efe.html

My class really questioned these folks’ inability to see evidence of climate change right in front of their noses,
• Drought
• Deforestation
• Rising temperatures
• Rising sea levels
• Habitat loss
• Crop damage
• Wildfires.

Not to mention a few others, including
• Melting glaciers
• Damage to coral reefs
• Hurricanes
• The emergence of the polar vortex (caused by warm water in the Arctic pushing cold air down)

Just yesterday, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”) issued its second report on climate change. For the very first time, that body indicated that man would be impacted by climate change from food and water shortages. The IPCC added that it is 95% certain that climate change is manmade. Naik, G. (April 1, 2014) Panel reports threat of climate change. Wall Street Journal, World News, A8.

The Lorax would need the IPCC report.

But what upset my students and I the most about the situation in Whyoming is that their peers, the kids who will inherit this climate mess, may not get a chance to learn about this issue. In fact, one legislator claimed,

teaching global warming as fact would wreck Wyoming's economy, as the state is the nation's largest energy exporter [fossil fuels], and cause other unwanted political ramifications

Todd, L., http://trib.com/news/local/education/wyoming-blocks-new-science-standards/article_5d0ec624-6b50-5354-b015-ca2f5f7d7efe.html

"Yikes,"  I told my students, “this smacks of neo-liberalism.” I’m not sure that they understood my explanation, but they did understand that the folks in Whyoming were disrespecting students as well as the planet.

My students were confident that the Lorax can change things.

“The Lorax, Mrs. Stern, has seen it all—smog from fossil fuels, deforestation, polluted rivers and more, and still, he soldiers on about the dire need for change.”

And to inspire our class, Ross read the last page of the Lorax’ book:

UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It’s not.*

Whyoming, we care. Give your students a chance to study climate change and make a difference. Safe travels to the Lorax.

*Seuss, Dr. (1971). The Lorax. NY: Random House

Comments

Leave a comment
  • Ms. Stern, it is amusing that at the same time to chide the state of Wyoming for rejecting the "Next Generation Science Standards last month (because) those standards treated climate change as fact," you urge Wyoming to give "students a chance to study climate change."

    It is amusing because the Next Generation Science Standards approach does not actually have students study climate change and to independently think for themselves, but instead indoctrinates students by presenting as fact something which is little more than a strongly disputed theory.

    And to support your position you offer a litany of "evidence" which actually not only does little to support your position, much of it actually undercuts it. (The prediction of those pushing the anthropogenic Global Warming fear agenda was that we would have more and stronger hurricanes, when in fact we have had fewer hurricanes. The sea levels have simply NOT risen. And drought is no greater a problem today than it was 100 years ago, or 200, or 300, or 1,000.)

    Looks to me as if Wyoming is actually much more interested in science than you are, and that your primary interest is less in science than in political indoctrination.

  • In reply to jesbeard:

    Thank you for presenting another viewpoint.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to jesbeard:

    Jesbeard-

    I would like to first mention that I appreciate your viewpoint on climate change. Second, I would like to pose a question. In 1925, when John Scopes was arrested, and was the subject of the famous Scopes Monkey Trial, what was the primary interest there? Science of politics? I would like to argue for both. Science was at the heart of that trial, because Mr. Scopes wanted to teach evolution in the classroom, but that was against the law. Politics stemmed off of that science, because teaching evolution was against the law.

    The Scopes Monkey Trial is no different than the current issue in Wyoming. The current Wyoming board of education believes climate change should not be taught. But climate change is science. There is evidence that our climate is changing. For better or for worse, that is yet to be determined.

    Many scientific topics are be disputed and debated- that is an innate part of science. Science is about exploring and discovering new things. Science is ever-changing, and so is government. When it comes down to education vs economy, you just have to root for the team you think should win.

  • This is a terrific point. Of course, science and politics are related and have been related historically. How do you think that climate change might change the world for the better?

Leave a comment