The Attacks on Climate Science Education Are Picking Up Steam | Chris Mooney

The Attacks on Climate Science Education Are Picking Up Steam

And I thought teaching about human evolution was fraught with peril.  Now this…

What’s currently seeping into classrooms across the country is far, far worse—more ideological, and more difficult to stop. We’re talking about outright climate denial being fed to students—and accurate climate science teaching being attacked by aggressive Tea Party-style ideologues.

Science magazine just released a report on the state of affairs out there in this place called America, and it’s ugly.

via Chris Mooney | The Attacks on Climate Science Education Are Picking Up Steam.


  1. You should take one step back and take a look at what you are saying!

    Why teach the virtues of the unproven “Anthropogenic CO2 causes Global Warming” hypothesis when it is just that:- An unproven hypothesis.

    If AGW cannot be scientifically proven, why try and teach (read indoctrinate) school children?
    I must say that if I had children at school which was teaching climate science in an unbalanced manner, I would be very upset.



    1. Roger,

      Funny thing about science: by definition, almost anything important cannot be scientifically “proven.” We work with hypotheses, which ideally are tested again and again, and looked at from different angles by different people. When lots of approaches and tests fail to falsify the hypothesis, and there are many lines of support, it is provisionally accepted as the best explanation we have so far. There is overwhelming support for climate changes due to anthropogenic CO2 from many different lines of investigation (sure, not quite as ovewhelming as the evidence supporting evolution via natural selection, but enough to demand some serious counter-evidence to reject the hypothesis).
      So, like natural selection, climate change studies are essential to our current scientific understanding of how the world works. An appropriate “balance” might be something like 98% confidence that AGW and ocean acidification caused by CO2 emissions are genuine concerns, with ~2% doubt, and admittedly great uncertainty about what the outcomes two, ten or 200 years in the future will be.
      I teach adults, and the adults I teach need to understand the state of the science and make determinations about their life choices, careers and daily actions based on the best available current science. Not to talk about it would be a tremendous disservice to my students, and to the people of California who pay my salary.


  2. Michelle,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I am pleased that you appear to be used to working with hypothesis’ so perhaps you can explain a few things to me.

    “When lots of approaches and tests fail to falsify the hypothesis”

    I know that there are basically three ways to prove a hypothesis.

    No doubt to support your convictions of climate change and your authority to teach these things to your adult students AND accept your salary from the State of California you will be able to provide or reference one or more peer reviewed, published academic papers using at least one of the following methods to show that the “Anthropogenic CO2 causes Global Warming” is more than just a possibility.

    1 Empirical proof that shows the causation factor of CO2 with respect of Global Warming.
    2. Statistical proof of Anthropogenic CO2. Im sure you know that correlations are never proof.
    3. Evidence for the “Anthropogenic CO2 causes Global Warming” hypothesis to be adopted over the null hypothesis?

    Now I’m sure you do not need it, but just in case, here is a little reading to understand what these things are. Here is a site which describes what is needed for #3 which might help.
    I think number three is the most important, because it means, as far as my understanding goes, that in order to consider the “Anthropogenic CO2 causes Global Warming” hypothesis as a better hypothesis over a null hypothesis (such as “The climate naturally changes anyway”) one has to explain how and why all the previous warmings occurred (At least three in historical times).
    Now I do have some standing as an economist, therefore I must ask you:- Do you discuss with your pupils, and/or include in your curriculum what the economic effect on us all will be should we all abide by the IPCC demands of a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions. (Thats roughly in line with their statement of 40% below 1990 levels).

    “An appropriate “balance” might be something like 98% confidence that AGW and ocean acidification caused by CO2 emissions are genuine concerns”
    I am very interested in your academic basis for such a statement. Please inform me of which peer reviewed, published academic papers you are refering to here.

    Here are some academic papers which look at facets of the “Anthropogenic CO2 causes Global Warming” hypothesis. This is just a quick sample of many hundreds which are floating around and somehow ignored by the IPCC.

    Please enjoy.

    An assessment of validation experiments conducted on computer models of global climate using the general circulation model of the UK’s Hadley Centre
    (Energy & Environment, Volume 10, Number 5, pp. 491-502, September 1999)
    – Richard S. Courtney
    An Alternative Explanation for Differential Temperature Trends at the Surface and in the Lower Troposphere (PDF)
    (Journal of Geophysical Research, Volume 114, November 2009)
    – Philip J. Klotzbach, Roger A. Pielke Sr., Roger A. Pielke Jr., John R. Christy, Richard T. McNider
    Altitude dependence of atmospheric temperature trends: Climate models versus observation (PDF)
    (Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 31, Issue 13, July 2004)
    – David H. Douglass, Benjamin D. Pearson, S. Fred Singer
    A test of corrections for extraneous signals in gridded surface temperature data (PDF)
    (Climate Research, Volume 26, Number 2, pp. 159-173, May 2004)
    – Ross McKitrick, Patrick J. Michaels
    – Are temperature trends affected by economic activity? Reply to Benestad (2004) (PDF)
    (Climate Research, Volume 27, Number 2, pp. 175–176, October 2004)
    – Ross McKitrick, Patrick J. Michaels
    A null hypothesis for CO2 (PDF)
    (Energy & Environment, Volume 21, Number 4, pp. 171-200, August 2010)
    – Roy Clark
    A natural constraint to anthropogenic global warming
    (Energy & Environment, Volume 21, Number 4, pp. 225-236, August 2010)
    – William Kininmonth
    A comparison of tropical temperature trends with model predictions (PDF)
    (International Journal of Climatology, Volume 28, Issue 13, pp. 1693-1701, December 2007)
    – David H. Douglass, John R. Christy, Benjamin D. Pearson, S. Fred Singer
    A Climate of Doubt about Global Warming
    (Environmental Geosciences, Volume 7, Issue 4, December 2000)
    – Robert C. Balling Jr.
    A 2000-year global temperature reconstruction based on non-treering proxies (PDF)
    (Energy & Environment, Volume 18, Numbers 7-8, pp. 1049-1058, December 2007)
    – Craig Loehle
    An empirical evaluation of earth’s surface air temperature response to radiative forcing, including feedback, as applied to the CO2-climate problem
    (Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, Volume 34, Numbers 1-2, pp. 1-19, March, 1984)
    – Sherwood B. Idso
    An upper limit to global surface air temperature
    (Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, Volume 34, Number 2, pp. 141-144, June 1985)
    – Sherwood B. Idso



  3. Hi Michelle,

    Im actually waiting for your well informed reply to my comment.

    I hope you enjoyed the reading but most of all I am waiting to hear how you actually justify your salary from the State of California.
    I’m sure you have a very good justification and I am anxious to hear it.

    To be honest though, if you do have a good and scientific justification, you will be the first I have found.

    Take a look at my other site where I have recorded a good number of conversations with people who have this “calling” but never seem to come up with good scientific reasons for their beliefs.




  4. Hi Michelle,

    You have gone very silent.

    I can understand that though because I also have yet to find any reasonable proof for AGW.
    I know that your job depends on your promotion of AGW, and you are most certainly not alone in that respect.

    Thankyou for publishing my comments though and I wish you well.




    1. Hi Roger,

      Actually, my job depends on that not in the slightest. I teach biological anthropology, and I’m quite busy with that at the moment. I also have taught a class on Sustainable Cultures, but that was cancelled due to budget cuts in California. Neither depend on talking about climate change, but it does come up. Students are interested in how it will shape their future.

      During winter break, I may have time to look deeper into the sites you mentioned, but it’s not a priority for me right now. I’m afraid I’ll have to continue to rely on mainstream scientific opinion, and as with any science, remind my students that all scientific conclusions are contingent and are constantly being scrutinized for the potential of falsification. The fact that most scientists engaged in studying climate systems, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, see evidence for anthropogenic contributions to the problem, gives me a degree of confidence in that conclusion (though never certainty, because it’s science, you see).

      Thanks for continuing to question the conclusions – that’s what makes science stronger.



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