The form of the question is a strong reason to keep the federal government out of setting standards for teaching climate change science. Paraphrasing Mark Twain, if you don’t read or listen to the popular media, you will be uninformed and if you read or listen to it, you’ll be misinformed. Any effort to teach so-called “consensus” climate science would result in students misinformed. It would be better for them to be uninformed. “Consensus” science is about a political agenda not the discovery of knowledge.
It has been said over and over that science is not about consensus. Science refers to an organized system for obtaining knowledge about how the world works. Karl Popper, the famous scientific philosopher, developed the principle of “falsifiability” which sets the standard that scientific facts must come from theories and experiments that are capable of being falsified. New knowledge and theories are developed by experiments that attempt to disprove existing ones.
The consensus scientists promoted the hypothesis that increases in CO2 lead to increases in temperature and unless checked would lead to a climate catastrophe. The lack of warming over the past 17 years disproves that hypothesis and yet the true believers hang on to it without doubt. They also conveniently ignore the fact that the relationship between CO2 and its warming effect is not linear; it is logarithmic which means that the incremental effect of additional CO2 diminishes.
The principles of science are not based on attempting to develop a consensus. The so called “consensus” on climate change represents the views of those who hold a set of beliefs and market them while attempting to shut down the scientific process of challenge and stifle debate. Legitimate scientific inquiry promotes debate and is guided by Popper’s principles.
As for the 97%, It has been shown that the “ consensus view held by 97% of scientists” is bogus. In May, an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal—The Myth of the Climate Change 97%– went into detail explaining the serious flaws in the surveys that repute to show that 97% of scientists believe that human activity is mainly responsible for warming over recent decades.
The federal government has become ever more intrusive in the lives of every American—too intrusive. There is nothing in the Constitution that would justify the federal government setting national science standards, even though it already exerts too much control over the education system. The rebellion against Common Core is evidence of that.
Instead of teaching students about the science of climate change as reflected by the climate orthodoxy, it would be far more productive to teach them the scientific method and how to think analytically. With those tools they would be far better off and better able to reach conclusions on their own instead of being brainwashed with an orthodoxy that is collapsing under the weight of so many false premises and failed predictions.
Given the continued controversy over climate change, there is no rationale way to set teaching standards that will not be extremely controversial. The next best alternative would be teaching basic courses in meteorology and climate science based on generally accepted texts. Since the climate system is chaotic, a basic course in chaos theory would also help students understand complex, non linear systems and the problems of predictability.
Conflict persists because consensus scientists continue to draw conclusions that go beyond what is actually known about climate and climate change. The IPCC in its science assessment reports has clearly identified a number of important processes and their interactions that are not adequately understood. These include natural variability, cloud formation, the role of oceans, and solar impacts. Without a better understanding of these topics and how the climate system actually works, the proposed teaching endeavor would flounder and just provoke more conflict. Instead, there should be goal to find common ground and explore ways to increase our knowledge
Although the motivation of the coalition of national science-education advocates might be laudable, It is hard not to conclude that their agenda has less to do with education and more to do with political indoctrination under the guise of science and education.
This article appeared on the National Journal’s Energy Insiders weblog at http://disqus.com/wokeefe/