Climate Change And Evolution

So it’s come to this:

after hearing an increasing number of anecdotes about K-12 teachers being challenged about how they taught climate science to their students, she says she began to see “parallels” between the two debates –namely, an ideological drive from pressure groups to “teach the controversy” where no scientific controversy exists. To get expertise in this area, NCSE hired climate and environmental education expert Mark McCaffrey as its new climate coordinator and appointed Pacific Institute hydroclimatologist Peter Gleick to its board of directors.

“There’s a climate of confusion in this country around climate science,” says McCaffrey, and NCSE’s goal will be to ensure that “teachers have the tools they need if they get pushback and feel intimidated.” Recent surveys, such as one done among K-12 teachers in September by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), suggest that attacks on climate education are far from rare. NSTA found that over half of the respondents reported having encountered global warming scepticism from parents, and 26% had encountered it from administrators. And a December survey from the National Earth Science Teachers’ Association found that 36% of its 555 K-12 teachers who currently teach climate science had been “influenced” to “teach the controversy.”

One of these things is not like the other. And Gleick sounds like a real piece of work.

24 thoughts on “Climate Change And Evolution”

  1. We shouldn’t be treating k-12 as college students. k-12 isn’t the time to teach any controversy, they should stick to basics. Students graduate college without every learning basic skills in k-12.

    1. Could be. Music has been shown to very important in early development. Most of the programmers I know, for example, also happen to be musicians.

  2. I think there are some interesting analogies to be made between evolution and catastrophic anthropogenic global warming theory, “climate change” as they want to teach it.

    Evolution displaced the belief that we knew exactly what had happened (creation, Noah’s flood) and replaced it with the idea that figuring out all the connections between living things would take an immense amount of legwork and careful, painstaking analysis and observation.

    Global warming replaced the belief that weather and climate is an incredibly complicated chaotic system whose interactions would require an incredible amount of study and observation to even begin to undertand, with the idea that “D’oh! It’s all just CO2! We have sinned!”

    The theory of evolution took us from blind faith and religious conviction that we’re sinners in charge of the planet, to realizing what we don’t know and have to figure out. CAGW took us from realzing what we don’t know and have to figure out back to blind faith and the religious conviction that we’re sinners in charge of the planet.

    Evolution shows us that the past is full of unpredictable events, that the fate of species hangs on many contigencies, random luck, overlooked quirks, unsuspected relationships between seemingly unrelated species or events, and that predicting outcomes of evolution is folly. No scientist, if given only data up to the extinction of the dinosaurs, would claim that whales, bats, kangaroos, and rhinoceros were the predictable outcomes of an asteroid impact.

    CAGW theorists churn out charts of daily temperatures, rainfall, the sea level in Manhattan, the rate and severity of floods, droughts, hurricanes, and tornadoes, all a hundred years in the future, based on nothing more than last month’s SUV sales in Memphis.

    The theory of evolution shows that data trumps faith and dogma, that careful scientific observation will yield new insights, constantly overturning established and widely accepted beliefs, and that the history of the Earth isn’t just a passion play about our moral purity.

    The theory of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming demands that faith trump data, that new inights and observations which challenge accepted beliefs must be shouted down or ignored, and that the science is settled and nothing can ever change the truth – that the planet’s future is a passion play about our moral purity.

    I think putting the two theories together could teach kids a great deal about the human condition and humanities’ struggle to escape a demon-haunted world dominated by ignorance and fear, and how these fears are generated and exploited by an annointed religious caste intent on controlling thought and behavior.

    Somehow I am certain that the teachers’ union won’t be asking me to write the lesson plan.

  3. One of these things is not like the other.

    In both cases skeptics allege a conspiracy of self-interest, political/religious ideology, confirmation bias and group-think that undermines true scientific inquiry. In both cases critics claim that the disputed theories are unproven due to gaps in the evidentiary record, but don’t seem too motivated to fill those gaps, or inclined to change their minds when new supporting data appears. In both cases critics claim to put great stock in the scientific method and in the scientific community in general, but make an exception for this one topic where they are sure they know better than the credentialed experts (and where, no doubt coincidentally, the consensus scientific view just happens to offend their strongly held political/religious beliefs or affiliations).

    1. In both cases critics claim to put great stock in the scientific method and in the scientific community in general, but make an exception for this one topic where they are sure they know better than the credentialed experts (and where, no doubt coincidentally, the consensus scientific view just happens to offend their strongly held political/religious beliefs or affiliations).

      Just because you say so does’t make it true, Jim.

      Professor Freeman Dyson is at least as far to the left as you, yet he has called foul on the scientific evidence. He also has some scientific credentials, contrary to your insinuations (and despite being on the climate-change blacklist).

      There are other examples, of course, all of whom you ignore because their work happens to offend your strongly held political/religious beliefs.

    2. I’m an admirer of Dyson, but I’d call him more of a techno-utilitarian than an environmentalist.

      The critics I’m referring to are the lay critics, who are happy to take scientists’ words on the odds of an asteroid strike wiping us out, or any number of other things, but for some reason dismiss organized science as hopelessly corrupt when it talks about evolution/climate.

      1. If the people in charge of the Astronomy journals behaved the way the Climate journals have behaved, nobody would take their word on asteroid strikes either.

      2. Stop putting “scientists” on a pedestal. They are humans and susceptible to the failings of our nature.

      3. I’m an admirer of Dyson, but I’d call him more of a techno-utilitarian than an environmentalist.

        Dyson calls himself an environmentalist. I have no idea what “techno-utilitarian” means or why you think it might invalidate his views.

        I’m referring to are the lay critics, who are happy to take scientists’ words on the odds of an asteroid strike wiping us out, or any number of other things, but for some reason dismiss organized science as hopelessly corrupt when it talks about evolution/climate.

        You mean they’re happy to trust scientists who show their math but not willing to trust those who hide data from their own colleagues?

        Yeah, that is kind of hard to explain.

    3. Jim, perhaps that’s because an asteroid strike has calculable odds, data to gage historical impact rates, and consequences that are definitely bad. In contrast, catastrophic anthropogenic global warming doesn’t even make sense.

      Back to your original assertion, the difference is that there are a great many CAGW skeptics who are credentialed experts in the field and constantly produce data that refutes CAGW, such as the constant stream of actual measurements that show climate feedbacks to be strongly negative, along with numerous studies published in top publications like “Science” that show the IPCC’s sensitivity numbers to be far too high. A recent paper in “Science” even showed that the higher range of IPCC numbers weren’t physically possible. In contrast, I can’t recall the last article in “Science” that provided evidence that Jesus road a dinosaur.

      Further, skeptics of CAGW don’t just allege a conspiracy of self-interest, political/religious ideology, confirmation bias and group-think that undermines true scientific inquiry, they posted thousands of CAGW e-mails that prove it.

      In terms of logic, CAGW claims are as nutty as the medieval Church. We know a slightly colder climate is horribly destructive to plants, animals, agriculture, and society and a much colder climate is catastrophic. CAGW posits that a slightly warmer climate is even more destructive, and a much warmer climate is even more catastrophic. Aside from a warmer climate actually being better for life, this improbable stance requires us to believe that we happened to be living in utopian state of climate perfection exactly when the current crop of CAGW researchers were on swing sets and teeter totters.

      Can you find a better example of mindless anthrocentrism or self-centered, narrow-minded ignorance? “The only perfect temperature is the temperature that I am used to, whatever it happened to be.” Is that any different from monks who argued that the absolute perfection of all aspects of creation (and all aspects WERE perfect!) was a vast array of miracles that proved God’s existence? The same charge applies to CAGW. The temperature in 1970? Perfect. Perfect everywhere. Perfect where it was 110F and perfect where it was minus 40. Perfect in August and perfect in January. Any deviation would be a descent into hell, casting man out of Eden and dooming us to eternal punishment for our sins.

      But there’s even more evidence that CAGW is an illogical crock. The CAGW world-view requires you to suck down some very odd positions. Any change in temperature caused by man is bad, whereas natural changes are good, even though temperature is temperature and the goodness of the change shouldn’t logically depend on the cause. But let’s ignore the man-made versus natural argument and just focus on temperature change.

      Pick any set of points on the planet and their set of temperatures T[x,y]. Any change at any point, dt[x,y], should make things a little better for life or a little worse. Given the distribution of temperatures across the globe, the better or worse for a given dt (positive or negative) should somewhat resemble a coin toss, with the caveat that we use the phrases “tropical paradise” and “arctic wasteland” for good reason. CAGW says that all positive dt’s, anywhere, are bad, regardless of the temperature T[x,y]. All negative dt’s anywhere are also bad, but they don’t dwell on those.

      Shifting from 80F to 83F is bad. Droughts! Desertification! People collapsing from heat death! Shifting from 30F to 33F is bad (and I always thought that thawing out was a good thing). Shifting from -30F to -27F is also bad. The arctic is melting! We’re all going to drown! Think of the polar bears!

      It’s trivial to refute such nonsense with data on growing seasons, ecosystem complexity and productivity, but it’s sufficient to note that Northerners keep moving South, where it’s warm. Canadians and New Yorkers vacation in Florida, the Bahamas, Mexico, and the Southwest. Europeans vacation in Spain and Italy, and nobody vacations in northern Canada except for crazed fishermen who don’t mind giant blood-sucking mosquitos. We vote with our feet, and warmer is better, and a lot warmer is a lot better. Phoenix is booming, while Detroit is hoping the last guy to leave turns out the lights. Back when the worry was sulfates from coal pushing us into an ice age, environmentalists pointed out the obvious fact that getting colder is not a good thing, but now they argue that getting warming isn’t a good thing either.

      That all man-induced temperature changes are bad makes no logical sense at all, but it makes perfect ecclesiastical sense. The temperature changes are due to man’s sin, his over-consumption, greed, arrogance, and disregard for the Earth and God’s creation. The consequences of his sin will be punishment, and logically a punishment must be bad. Punishment must involve suffering. Since the punishment is coming in the form of temperature and climate changes, those changes must be bad. The changes must all be bad – everywhere, at all times, for all people.

      Otherwise it would be as crazy as punishing a rotten kid’s misbehavior by giving him an ice-cream cone. It would make no sense. It would be as crazy as getting booming crop yields, longer growing seasons, a thriving economy, and a vibrant ecology as a side-effect of barreling down the road in a gas-guzzling SUV sipping a slurpy. While there’s nothing logically or scientifically wrong about such an outcome, it violates environmentalists’ religious sensibilities.

      So despite all historical data, observations, and simple logic, warmer can’t be better because the warming is a punishment, coming as a direct consequence of our sins, and punishments are bad. That’s why every projection from the CAGW camp predicts bad things, and why anything they predict must be portrayed as bad, even if it takes teams of grad students six months to wade through two-hundred positive effects to posit a bad one, and even if their claim is bat shit crazy. They get published for this – daily, adding to the mountains of “scientific” papers that have little more scientific merit than rooms full of Renaissance Vatican papers on the nature of the human soul.

      That brings us to another thing CAGW has in common with creationism. Neither one is scientific. CAGW predicts that storms will get more severe, or less severe, or more frequent, or less frequent. Winters will become either warmer and milder or colder and more severe. Summers will be drier, unless they’re wetter. Global temperatures will increase, unless of course temperatures decrease because of the human-induced temperature increases change the oceans’ thermo-haline circulation. You can just pick from a host of completely contradictory papers, depending on what the latest weather event was, citing the one that was correct by random chance as proof that your consensus of credentialed scientific experts is as infallible as the Pope.

      Just like creationism, no piece of data, observation, or negative result can refute CAGW, because the theory predicts anything and everything. Theories that aren’t logically refutable by any conceivable observation aren’t part of science. CAGW is something that isn’t science, something that in all respects maps as an offshoot of medieval Christianity, complete with sin, redemption, damnation, indulgences, inquisitions, and charges of heresy and apostasy.

      Because its priesthood earned PhD’s in science, and claim what they do is science, their followers can boldly evangelize for an illogical, wacko religion while wrapped in the trappings of acceptable secular appearances, feeling smug and enlightened because what they believe is scientific “truth.”

      Of course skeptics are evil heretics, apostates, and sinners, some of whom can be saved if they repent and accept the priesthood’s message. The believers can still fly a personal 747 to environmental conferences (because that’s doing the Lord’s work), and own giant mansions in Malibu (because God’s messengers should be rewarded), and if they feel guilty they can pay to have a small African village starve itself to save the rainforest. Because it’s not about actions, at least not ones that inconvenience believers, it’s about beliefs.and evangelizing. The Truth must be spread to everyone. All must believe or be cast down. Doubt cannot be tolerated, and doubters must be renounced.

      Certainly some skeptics are skeptical because they think CAGW conflicts with their belief in God’s creation, but many more are skeptical because they are devoted to science and are horrified by the abuses it is suffering at the hands of a bunch of zealots intent on saving the planet from man’s sin, regardless of actual science, reason, and logic.

      Communism, Fascism, and Nazism were also “scientific” belief systems, arrogant in the certainty of their scientific truths, intent on saving the world, focused on exposing skeptics and non-believers, while arrogantly demeaning the un-enlightened, ignorant masses held in thrall by primitive religious beliefs. Do we need another one of these pseudo-scientific, dogmatic, self-destructive secular-religions running amok in our schools? Should we be subjecting students to mindless indoctrination in the hopes that they’ll lower their standard of living, and hopefully stop reproducing altogether? I would hope not.

      Sorry if that ran a little long, but I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about these nutcases. Of course they’ll just retort that the bee abandoned its hive due to man-made global warming, because the actions of all of God’s creatures is due to man-made global warming.

      1. Frankly, just to add some tone this is the biggest pile of bollocks I’ve read in many a month. Cheers.

        I would try to decompile this but you went so far into the weeds early on that it can’t be done.

        Still hope it keeps nice for you. The problem with not believing in things that happen is they just darn well happen anyway.

          1. Daveon seems to specialize in the drive-by troll (what he calls here “adding some tone”). When you see Daveon pull up in his clown car, hurl some cream pies into the shrubbery, and drive off in a cloud of smoke, you know a serious argument just happened.

      2. CAGW advocates also have a tendency towards cognitive dissonance. For example, some rationalize radical carbon dioxide emission reduction on the grounds that society was too fragile to endure the effects of CAGW. They don’t seem to get that if society were really that fragile, it couldn’t handle the “fix” either.

  4. NSTA is very sensitive to climate-change bullying. A few years ago, Al Gore tried to pressure them to distribute copies of his DVD free of charge. (Free to him, that is.) NSTA declined because of a long-standing policy against distributing material on political issues. As a result, Keith Obermann named the NSTA President “the worst person in the world.” They have been gun-shy ever since.

  5. The simplistic usage of humidity-corrected “0.1C” point-source thermometers directly as instruments measuring thousand+ square kilometer gridcells while propagating the “0.1C” error bars sums up how moronic the entire thing is.

  6. If a 5-18 year old is offering pushback on a subject that requires you to attend remedial course to prove them wrong, then there is something wrong with YOUR knowledge base, not theirs.

  7. Whenever you’re in doubt about whether a particular scientific theory has enough merit to become part of public policy, ask yourself a simple question: “Is this theory powerful enough that you can use it to do engineering?”

    We engineer all kinds of stuff using evolution, from methods to slow anitbiotic resistance to using genetic algorithms to generate novel mechanical and electronic designs. Evolution works.

    And we use climate science to engineer… nothing.

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