“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,
• Rising temperatures
• Rising sea levels
• Habitat loss
• Crop damage
Not to mention a few others, including
• Melting glaciers
• Damage to coral reefs
• 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.
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