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California Lawmaker Seeks Climate Change as part of Public Education

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the getting-hot-in-the-senate dept.

Earth 313

Andrew Feinberg writes "A California State Senator is seeking to mandate climate change as part of the standard science curriculum. Other members of the legislative body seek to teach an opposing view. 'Simitian noted that his bill wouldn't dictate what to teach or in what grades, but rather would require the state Board of Education and state Department of Education to decide both. Although global warming is mentioned in high school classes about weather, it is currently not required to be covered in all textbooks, said the head of the California Science Teachers Association ... teachers would have plenty to discuss: rising levels of carbon dioxide, how temperatures are measured globally, and what is known and not known about global warming.'"

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Aw shit... more of this? (-1, Troll)

unkaggregate (855265) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447136)

When I was in school I had to listen to this climate change global warming shit from people who wanted to push some feel good legistlation into place that would tell me how to run my life. Or, it was impregnated into my science class. They push this crap onto students, and then wonder why they either don't pay attention (like I did) or become emo kids. Now, I can't do this, this, this, and this, because it conflicts with these stupid rules. Wonder why kids don't respect the law now? Hm.....

When are these environmentalists and climate change freaks going to stop with the bullshit and leave us alone?

Re:Aw shit... more of this? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22447196)

hey kid, you clearly arent interested in the facts about how climate change is happening, so you know what? We dont give a fuck. Go buy your dumbass SUV that will cost $200 to fill up with gas next year. Or why dont you buy a nice apartment on a flood plain?
Keep your head stuck in the sand if you like. and enjoy your whining. But dont whine at the rest of us when the results of your own actions bite you in the ass.
Arrogant prick.

Re:Aw shit... more of this? (3, Insightful)

unkaggregate (855265) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447242)

My point is not whether or not climate change is happening. My point is that whenever it's brought up in schools, like any environmentalist stuff (like when I was in school) it's always bent towards the OMG if we do some pointless exercise we'll save enough energy to (insert insignificant result here) and OMG we must do something now support this legislation. The curriculum is always bent towards supporting the fanatical environmental agenda, always has been since I was in school, and legislating more climate change curriculum despite the politician's best interests will always result in more of the same for kids to have to listen to.

What I'm saying is it doesn't matter what valid climate change data there is, it will be distorted and mistaught in our schools to support yet another draconian measure that Al Gore or whoever else will want to push upon us and that's why I'm against it. Scientists are free to do the climate control studies they want, just stop pushing it on us through the schools because the schools from my experience are the last place you can expect any worthwhile study of it.

Ok?

Re:Aw shit... more of this? (2, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447376)

I was in elementary school in the early nineties and I will vouch for much of what you say(anybody remember Widget?, but the message du jour depends on whomever's in power. Dumping tons upon tons of shit into our environment can't be good for it(or us) but the problem here is that people tend to ignore what they can't see. The issue of the day back then was all about recycling and saving the gay whales etc. The issue of the day now is terrorism, etc. Now, people don't see much of their garbage after it's carted to the landfill. People won't envision water shortages as long as they can shower every day. People will envision terrorists and pedophiles out to get them because 9/11 and its aftereffects are shoved in their faces on a daily basis.

Re:Aw shit... more of this? (2, Interesting)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447766)

Whoever modded this "flamebait" has no idea what flambait actually is.

Public schools by-and-large are the last place you can expect worthwhile study of something controversial. One side or the other always receives more emphasis, depending on the political demographics of the school board in that area.

Re:Aw shit... more of this? (4, Insightful)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447222)

As someone who actually studied climate science I appreciate the attempt at raising public awareness of the issue. However, I fear it will suffer the same fate as evolution education and turn into a political minefield where neither side really "wins" and the real losers are the students who end up with a half-assed and confusing discussion of a very important issue.

The biggest problem with discussions of global warming is they have become so politicized (by both sides) that the actual science is getting lost in the noise. The "save the environment" types have probably caused as much harm in getting to a real solution as the "skeptics". It's all about soundbites and rarely does the science get laid out in a sane and understandable way to the general public.

Enough Already (-1, Flamebait)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447140)

I thought this scam had already been outed.

No, that was Intelligent Design (2, Insightful)

FatSean (18753) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447432)

This is something agreed upon by a very large majority of scientists across the globe.

Personally, even if they are over-reacting, polluting the environment is a very bad thing. Since we have only one planet that can sustain human life, I think we should err on the side of caution. If it means you have to spend more on fuel and new energy technology, well, we had it pretty good for a while.

Re:No, that was Intelligent Design (1, Insightful)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447496)

This is something agreed upon by a very large majority of scientists across the globe.


No, all that has been agreed upon is the planet is getting /slightly/ warmer. Thats it. No cause. Sure, California wants you to cease all use of technology that /could/ be /perhaps/ contributing to this slight effect however other scientists think that it could be cows that caused this. The fact is, we don't know and I for one am not happy with paying extra for something minor that /could/ be happening.

Re:No, that was Intelligent Design (1)

urbanriot (924981) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447768)

Except that 'slightly warmer' has serious implications, and is already caused the evacuation of a number of islands throughout the world.

No, all that has been agreed upon is the planet is getting /slightly/ warmer.

I understand your point. (-1, Flamebait)

FatSean (18753) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447864)

A few degrees can make or break many of the livable areas on our globe. Our entire civilization was built arround how the planet functioned at a certain temperature range, increasing that temp has already had negative effects. I'm of the mind that we need to fix this if we can, and there is much evidence that by changing what we piss into the environment, we can effect a change.

We've pissed away a Trillion Borrowed Dollars into Iraq and only made terrorism worse. There were many people who poked holes in the reasoning for the conflict, but it happened anyway. I wish the pants-filling cowards who let that go by would also realize that climate shift will kill far more than the few thousand who died on 9/11.

So why not piss away another borrowed Trillion Dollars on making our energy systems sustainable?

Re:No, that was Intelligent Design (1)

deathtopaulw (1032050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447880)

I don't think you know what slightly means on a global scale. Global warming does not mean "summers will be hotter and winters will be less chilly"

Re:No, that was Intelligent Design (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22447884)

No, all that has been agreed upon is the planet is getting /slightly/ warmer. Thats it.

15 years ago it was, "well you have a very good model for why global warming should happen, but we haven't measured much change in temperature."

Now it's "we are measuring the change in temperature but we no longer accept your models of why it is happening."

Re:Enough Already (1)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447914)

I thought this scam had already been outed.

This reminds me of a Homer Simpson quote, "I would like to live long enough to see the effects of global warming. I've got an inside tip that it's all a load of crap!"

So you're in good intellectual company.

The slippery slope creationists help wet.... (4, Funny)

Jeramy (123761) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447146)

Now politicians and school boards everywhere might be open to the idea that they should be dictating what is taught in science class (whether good intentioned or bad).

That's all teachers need is one more jerk telling them what to do.

Re:The slippery slope creationists help wet.... (0, Flamebait)

gotzero (1177159) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447194)

I just wish they would all stop misusing "theory".

"Climate change" is a little rough, but I do think that the impact should be brought up. Maybe talk about energy efficiency, and spend a day going over the low-hanging fruit of improvements.

The kids forget the entire lesson anyway as soon as they are picked up in their parent's Yukons...

Re:The slippery slope creationists help wet.... (4, Insightful)

NIckGorton (974753) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447218)

Um, that's called establishing a curriculum and its no different than mandating other specific educational goals. In public schools there should be a basic standard. That standard includes at a minimum what concepts must be covered in a subject.

The Creationsts probably wish that mandated curriculum didn't exist in the first place since intimidating individual teachers in small towns is easier than school boards (Kansas notwithstanding.) However as they do exist, the creationists will use them to the best of their abilities to cripple science education and push their religious agenda.

Re:The slippery slope creationists help wet.... (0, Flamebait)

unkaggregate (855265) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447322)

Same difference. They establish the new climate change curriculum, which of course is biased towards the fanatical environmentalist agenda, and teachers have to cover it whether they like it or not. That's the parent poster's concern.

Re:The slippery slope creationists help wet.... (1, Flamebait)

NIckGorton (974753) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447578)

Same difference.
No its no. It is different in exactly the same way that mandating teaching evolutionary theory is not the same as mandating teaching creationist nonsense. They are not 'equivalent theories'. One is unanimously supported by experts in the field in the scientific community, the other is a bunch of shite supported by a bunch of religious whackjobs who work out of single wide trailers in the middle of North Dakota that they call international scientific institutes.

Its not that mandating is bad. Its that mandating based on religion, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, or any other fucktarded cognitive dissonance extravaganza is bad.

They establish the new climate change curriculum, which of course is biased towards the fanatical environmentalist agenda, and teachers have to cover it whether they like it or not.
OK, how about this then. We legislate what is supported by NOAA, the USEPA, the American Meterological Society, and the US National Academy of Science? Completely boring, pocket-protectored, the bibliography is the best part of the journal article, geektastic real scientists? No Greenpeace Rulz, hemp is a viable product, anti-GMO, anti-vaccination, crystal wearing weirdos?

and teachers have to cover it whether they like it or not.
Exactly, then if you were a teacher you would have to teach that global warming is real and man made. Since that's what NOAA et al support. You would of course hate this, because you get your scientific information the popular media and your skepticism has its roots more in Rush Limbaugh than in a scientific journal. And that's precisely why you'd be pissed and precisely why we need legislation like this.

Way to prove the point.

Re:The slippery slope creationists help wet.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22447326)

...and then they wonder why our economy is being flushed down the toilet and our technological edge is disappearing. People like that shouldn't be allowed to breed.

Re:The slippery slope creationists help wet.... (2, Insightful)

rasputin465 (1032646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447634)

Um, that's called establishing a curriculum and its no different than mandating other specific educational goals. In public schools there should be a basic standard. That standard includes at a minimum what concepts must be covered in a subject.

It's not an issue of establishing a curriculum. The issue is, WHO establishes that curriculum? I agree, a standard base of subjects and techniques makes sense, but I think it also makes sense for a board of science teachers to establish the science curriculum, NOT some politician.

I'm sure there's some car analogy I could use here...

Re:The slippery slope creationists help wet.... (1)

bendodge (998616) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447644)

Do you, sir, support equal talk show airtime?

Hostility to Science, and Avoiding Indoctrination (5, Informative)

catchblue22 (1004569) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447606)

Firstly, the level of many of the posts here, the reflexive and snide referral to the principles of atmospheric science as religion indicate to me that an increasingly large group in society are hostile to science. Here is a New York Times article [nytimes.com] that argues just that, that there is a rising tide of anti-intellectualism building in America today.

As for the accusations of indoctrination, I believe that climate science should be taught in schools. However, it should be taught at a far more advanced level than they typical caricatures that appear in popular culture. Students should first be taught about the physics of electromagnetic radiation, about absorption, reflection, and emission. They should be given an understanding of how some wavelengths transparently pass through some materials, while others wavelengths are absorbed by the same materials. In my experience, students today typically have a terrible understanding of these concepts.

They should also be taught some basic atmospheric science. For example, they should know why the air becomes cooler as altitude increases (up to the thermosphere at least) because the reduced pressure causes the air molecules to move more slowly. This means that they should be familiar with gas laws, and with the concept of adiabiabatically raising a parcel of air. They should be taught about the latent heat in water vapor and also about relative humidity and the capacity of air to hold water vapor. They should understand that raising a parcel of air causes it to cool, thus reducing the amount of water vapor it can hold. When the water vapor condenses to form clouds, heat is released, causing the parcel of air to rise even faster...this is the main mechanism of storms.

Finally, they should be taught the mechanisms of the greenhouse effect. They should especially be taught that the typical pop culture caricature of the greenhouse effect is wrong. The greenhouse effect is typically portrayed as a sheet of gas reflecting infrared radiation back to Earth. This is not the way it works. Instead, increased carbon dioxide, especially at high altitudes (where it is dry) makes it more difficult for infrared radiation to escape to space. The high altitude carbon dioxide causes the Earth's infrared radiation to be emitted to space at a higher altitude. However, since the air is cooler at higher altitude, the infrared radiation is emitted to space less effectively, thus causing an increase in temperature of the entire system. Here is a nice summary [realclimate.org] .

If the material is taught in a logical scientific way, then I believe that it cannot be called indoctrination. If the students are familiar with the detailed science underlying the field of climate science, then they will be more able to judge between authentic and fallacious arguments. Mandating that this material be taught is really not that different than mandating that chemistry be taught.

Great, that's all we needed... (-1, Flamebait)

MacDork (560499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447160)

more narrow minded religion in public schools. Wonderful.

Re:Great, that's all we needed... (4, Insightful)

VirusEqualsVeryYes (981719) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447340)

teachers would have plenty to discuss: rising levels of carbon dioxide, how temperatures are measured globally, and what is known and not known about global warming.'"
Good God! They might ... GASP ... learn about the scientific processes involved? And what we actually know and don't know??

Sorry, I'm not seeing any religion here. Unless you're referring to a religion involving summary dismissal.

Re:Great, that's all we needed... (3, Insightful)

unkaggregate (855265) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447378)

They might ... GASP ... learn about the scientific processes involved?

Actually no, that's what is assumed. What actually happens is that you learn a lot of fanatical enviromental hyperbole in the name of science.

Re:Great, that's all we needed... (-1, Flamebait)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447428)

No you see following the scientific process would obviously make DOUBTING global warming mandatory (doubt ... the basis of science you know) ... And as you know, this is the UN, also called dictators anonymous (except they don't intend to actually cure the dictatorships, in fact they're working a lot harder to cure the non-dictatorships), they are not interested in discussion, and not interested in doubt. So we know exactly how this will go (in short they'll make the kids blame their parents so they can get more socialist policies to pass)

They probably make "socialism" mandatory next. "Anti-racism" is already mandatory.

Re:Great, that's all we needed... (1)

unkaggregate (855265) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447494)

Yes but from what I've seen the "discussion" is often biased from the start, with a loaded question, and the students worn down by the system only know what fanatical environmentalism they've been taught to discuss with. The result: The "discussion" really comes to a consensus that is manufactured.

Re:Great, that's all we needed... (1)

Jerry Beasters (783525) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447674)

It SHOULD be biased, towards the truth. The truth is global WARMING (not just climate change) is happening. Using your logic we also should teach alternatives to every other well established scientific fact. That's NOT what school is for. It's for teaching the science with a critical eye, not giving an alternative to every accepted theory.

Re:Great, that's all we needed... (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447712)

Obviously, as it's currently not possible to really prove things one way or the other. So the correct scientific answer is "we don't know". But they really hate that answer, and it doesn't provide as good an excuse to implement global communism.

What *is* a certainty is that the next twelve years will be a LOT colder than the previous ten years. Perhaps people will actually stop to think.

Besides, it's quite obvious that the climate changes. It's been in constant flux since life commenced on this planet. Currently photosynthetic plants are everywhere, causing the current co2-o2 balance with the animals (incuding humans), and fires (who are still beating the crap out of humans in co2 production).

What they also neglect to mention is that plants do best in co2 levels about 8000 times the current level. In short, IF global warming happens (it won't), it will increase harvests in poor countries 5-fold, which would be a great thing to happen.

I thought democrats would be in favor of change. Well the world constantly changes around us. Apparently obama wants to change it (back, he isn't very clear on what he wants to change, but hey nihilism is easyer to defend than any other policy for obvious reasons ?), so you'd think he'd be very much in favor of global warming. But hey, you're a populist for a reason I guess.

Re:Great, that's all we needed... (4, Insightful)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447686)

The problem here is that you need to have a faith in environmentalism to believe that human-caused global warming exists. We have good scientific reason to *expect* the globe to be warming, and to continue to warm for another two to three hundred years. We also have good evidence to expect that global warming will be a good thing. It's the global *cooling* that we need to worry about .... in two or three hundred years. Ya think anybody is going to start preparing for the real threat? If you think I'm talking smack, picture Chicago buried under a mile of ice. It happened before, it WILL happen again. A little bit of warming is nothing compared to the next ice age.

Re:Great, that's all we needed... (2, Insightful)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447754)

What you wrote re: global warming applies just as well to intelligent design.


This is secondary curriculum so we'll try to stick to well-established notions. So we teach that, based on past records earth has been warming up for a while now, and if it gets warmer, things could be painful. And then what? Full stop? Won't discuss possible causes, possible scenarios, and resulting damages? These subsequent topics are still mired in so much politics due to their policy implication that no matter how the presentation goes accusation of bias/political agenda will start shooting around before you can say "hot".

They are not fit for secondary school curriculum - if you think them fit, you're not much different from the ID evangelists.

Correlation != Causation. (2, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447174)

Too bad they will probably not bother to get to the point where we don't know specifically what is causing the climate change.

Or, in general:
Correlation != Causation.

Re:Correlation != Causation. (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447318)

I agree with your point that correlation and causation are not the same thing, and maybe even that this should be taught in schools (I dont know what age they are thinking of here but being from the uk I'm still thinking below 16), but there is a worry for me of teaching this idea just in relation to this specific topic because it will make people think that the amount of knowledge we have here is less than it is. It is true that if you follow the idea of strict separation of correlation and causation then when you want to get to the ground floor of a 300 foot building you should just jump out the window, its true its been correlated with death in the past, but why should it in the future?

Re:Correlation != Causation. (2, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447472)

Except that in the case of falling 300 feet causing death is a theory that has been tested. We know what kinds of forces will kill a human, so any impact that will create those forces will be lethal.
Causation can be shown by a repeatable, verifiable experiment.
Showing causation with a theory is hard, but if the theory is sufficiently descriptive of the situation, might be enough.

The environment and the atmosphere is incredibly complex, and we aren't even close to understanding what is going on.
For example, how can we be sure that our global temperature measurements are even accurate [blogspot.com] to a degree over the last century.

I am not trying to say that I don't think global warming exists, just that we need tons more research into various things: measuring the global temperature accurately, getting the temperature from now to the distant past, to establish trends, the effect of our pollution on the temperature, the effect of changes we have made to the environment in other ways.

Certainly, reducing sources of smog near big cities is a very good thing, so there are things we should do to help the environment. That is one thing where correlation be expanded to show causation with some experimentation/data. For example, if you have enough data showing that dumping particulate matter into the air in a specific location creates smog.

Re:Correlation != Causation. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22447824)

how can we be sure that our global temperature measurements are even accurate to a degree over the last century

This one is easy. Assume you have many temperature detectors over the world. At each measure, each detector measures true temperature + calibration error of the detector + instant additional error. The calibration error of the detector is constant over time for each detector. The instant additional error is just a random process with mean 0. Let write it

M(i)=T(i)+CE(i)+epsilon(i)(omega).
i is an index representing which detector we are considering T(i) is the true temperature at place i. We assume that the detectors are not intentionally tempered. Therefore, we may suppose that the epsilon(i) are all independent (between themselves and between two measures with the same detector). For the same reason, we suppose that the calibration error follow a random law with 0 mean. For simplification, we suppose all the epsilon follow the same law.

Now, let's compute the esperancy of the square of the error made between the true mean temperature and the one computed with the measured data, we obtain (using independance)

(mean of the CE(i))^2 + V(epsilon)/(total number of measure by each detector).
The second term goes to zero as the total number of measures increase because all the instant errors epsilon are independent of each other and the first one also goes to zero because over many detectors the mean calibration error should be close to zero (law of large numbers).

Conclusion, while each individual measure can have a big error, we have a much better certainty over the error of the global mean temperature. In fact to see that the temperature is rising (or not), we don't even care about the mean temperature being accurate, if we consider the difference between the measured mean temperature at T+1 year and T, all the calibration errors disappear as long as they are independent from time or even as long as the evolution over time of the calibration error follow a random law.

You may criticize this model but if you do, please come up with a better model. Don't just nitpick because this model doesn't take X into account if you can make a model that take X into account.

Re:Correlation != Causation. (2, Insightful)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447388)

I think it's a pretty safe bet that doubling the concentration of a known greenhouse gas is going to do something. It's what that something is that's still up for debate.

Re:Correlation != Causation. (-1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447514)

You mean water [wikipedia.org] , which causes most of the greenhouse gas effect on earth?

Percent of the greenhouse gas effect on earth caused by the following gases:
Water: 36-70%
CO2: 9-26%
Methane: 4-9%
Ozone: 3-7%

(oh gheez, ozone is a greenhouse gas? Quick dump some CFCs [wikipedia.org] into the atmosphere)

Re:Correlation != Causation. (5, Informative)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447620)

Your argument is disingenuous. The importance of a greenhouse gas is more than simply the strength of its absorbtion lines, but also its sources/sinks and residence time in the atmosphere. Water is a strong absorber, but its distribution is highly time dependent and its residence time in the atmosphere is exceedingly short. Water acts as a strong feedback mechanism rather than a direct cause. The simple fact is that if there were no CO2 all of the water would freeze out of the atmosphere and its contribution to warming would be lost. See for example the Snowball Earth [wikipedia.org] .

Water is highly unstable in Earth's atmosphere and has a very strong tendency at positive-feedback processes in both directions. If it gets colder and more ice starts forming, more water freezes to ice and makes it get even colder. Methane is a minor effect for a different reason. Without a constant source there would be no more methane in a very short time (it breaks down quite quickly in the atmosphere). CO2 however has a very long lifetime in the atmosphere and as such has a much stronger influence on long-term processes.

Re:Correlation != Causation. (3, Informative)

Skrynkelberg (910137) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447652)

Don't try to confuse with a nonsensical argument. Water being the biggest contributor doesn't say anything about the effect on carbon dioxide on global temperatures.

Let's take an example. Say that the global average temperature is proportional to the amount of greenhouse gases (plus say -40 degrees Celsius, supposedly the temperature on an Earth without any greenhouse gasses). If CO2 makes up for 10% of the greenhouse effect, doubling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would contribute to a 3 degrees of a rise in average temperature that would bring all sorts of consequences. There you have an example of why your logic fails so badly.

Re:Correlation != Causation. (1)

Tyler Durden (136036) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447904)

From the article you linked to...

Water vapor is a naturally occurring greenhouse gas and accounts for the largest percentage of the greenhouse effect, between 36% and 66% [10]. Water vapor concentrations fluctuate regionally, but human activity does not directly affect water vapor concentrations except at local scales (for example, near irrigated fields).

Current state-of-the-art climate models include fully interactive clouds[11]. They show that an increase in atmospheric temperature caused by the greenhouse effect due to anthropogenic gases will in turn lead to an increase in the water vapor content of the troposphere, with approximately constant relative humidity. The increased water vapor in turn leads to an increase in the greenhouse effect and thus a further increase in temperature; the increase in temperature leads to still further increase in atmospheric water vapor; and the feedback cycle continues until equilibrium is reached. Thus water vapor acts as a positive feedback to the forcing provided by human-released greenhouse gases such as CO2.

What point are you trying to make? Did you read the article to which you were referring?

Re:Correlation != Causation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22447440)

Too bad they will probably not bother to get to the point where we don't know specifically what is causing the climate change.
Has something to do with lack of pirates, right?
(Please mod this post redundant)

Re:Correlation != Causation. (2, Insightful)

pikine (771084) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447546)

You're wrong. We know enough about the climate model to prove causation, and correlation just happens to support it. Be careful not to go into the extreme believing that correlation disproves causation, or you will not see this fairly.

Re:Correlation != Causation. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22447556)

You mean Correlation + Well-Understood Physical Mechanism for Causation - Some Crap Denialists Made Up About Solar Forcing - Money From ExxonMobil To Right Wing Think Tanks + Isotopic Evidence That Yes That Carbon Really is Ours != Causation.

Re:Correlation != Causation. (1)

AySz88 (1151141) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447682)

Except that we do know what is causing the climate change (or, to be more exact, we have fairly high confidence that the greenhouse effect is correct). Science involves (hypothesis of causation + confirming observations = probable causation). The realization that carbon dioxide emissions might warm the troposphere is rather old, and new observations are confirming the correlation which was predicted by that hypothesis (to use the more-common wording). It's a bit irrelevant to play the "correlation != causation" card - nobody is actually arguing from that angle (well, except sometimes Al Gore - who thankfully won the peace prize, and not a science category, remember).

I'm a little scared that parent got modded up so high - I sense that there's a rather basic misunderstanding of the climate change issue there....

But I do think these concepts (especially the differences between science, math, and pseudoscience) should taught, and not left unsaid like they so often are... I know my high school never bothered with teaching the differences. I'm a little sad that Al Gore gets away with implying correlation=causation, no matter whether he's 'dumbing down' or if it's truly incorrect reasoning on his part.

Re:Correlation != Causation. (1)

imipak (254310) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447688)

There is this discipline called "detection and attribution [wikipedia.org] ", whereby the question is asked "to what factors can we attribute the detected warming in global temperature?", and the unequivocal answer is "athropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases, in particular CO2 and methane".

The matter is well understood, and the case is closed.

Now there areperfectly genuine areas of doubt and uncertainty, where legitimate debate and research can be conducted, in the field of climatology and AGW. This isn't one of them.

Re:Correlation != Causation. (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447810)

Yes, but the theory is incredibly scientifically robust.

I'm married to an Earth scientist, and I've been following the scientific arguments in the journals she reads since around 1980. If you look at Global Warming as an amorphous blob, you can make abstract, hand waving arguments about causality vs. correlation. If you've been following the nuts and bolts of the scientific fight, it was a long, hard fight for anthropogenic climate change to become scientific consensus, and really quite impressive objections were time and time again, and equally impressively refuted.

Re:Correlation != Causation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22447820)

You're either an idiot or an astroturfer.

*Of course* we know what's causing it. Correlation does not always imply causality, but in this case, causality is not an open question anymore.

Bad Idea (4, Interesting)

Corbets (169101) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447176)

Whether you agree with the Bushies or the Greens, this seems like a bad idea to me. Do we really want politicians mandating which subjects our children are taught? Shouldn't that be left to someone... I dunno... competent?

Re:Bad Idea (2, Informative)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447238)

It seems to be a rather peculiarly US thing not to want a national curriculum for teaching. In the UK, we've had one for ages, and it is generally set by competent people (the politicians, ya know, consult) and seems to work quite well. Did until recently, anyway, when they started mandating silly things like '5 hours of culture per week'...

Re:Bad Idea (1)

ilikepi314 (1217898) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447684)

Does the UK have the same curriculum as the rest of Europe? The states that make up the US have a pretty high amount of autonomy, so much that they are almost mini-countries (particularly Texas). It doesn't surprise me at all that the states wish to remain independent in this regard and set their own curricula.

Re:Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22447270)

If you want decisions about what kids are taught to be made by someone competent, you better take them out of public schools. When schools are run by the government, all the big decisions get made by politicians or government bureaucrats.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447274)

TV advertisers?

- RG>

Re:Bad Idea (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447352)

No. There's no superhuman person who never gets things wrong. Expertise is not incorruptible. Competence is not infallibility.

This is why we should not have government schools -- because we no longer have a common set of beliefs and every set of teachings offends a substantial minority of people.

It should be left up to the parents. They should choose their children's school. No more one-size-fits-all government truth/propaganda education. We should be past that now.

Re:Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22447402)

There's no superhuman person who never gets things wrong. Expertise is not incorruptible. Competence is not infallibility.

Clearly you've never heard of Al Gore.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

NIckGorton (974753) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447436)

Whether you agree with the Bushies or the Greens, this seems like a bad idea to me. Do we really want politicians mandating which subjects our children are taught? Shouldn't that be left to someone... I dunno... competent?
Yes, great idea. Consult with experts. We do that in many areas of the government. For example the government mandates that the VA system exist and that it meet certain minimum standards. However its not like congressmen are mandating that no patient can die at a VA hospital or UTIs have to be treated with Cipro as a first line agent. Because they consult with experts and leave that to the experts... like say, I dunno....

* The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
* The US Environmental Protection Agency
* NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies
* The American Geophysical Union
* The American Institute of Physics
* The National Center for Atmospheric Research
* The American Meteorological Society
* The Royal Society of the UK
* The Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
* And Academies of Science in 20 countries

Or wait... lets ask a real expert: CA State Senator Jeff Denham (R-Modesto)

"From what I have seen the Earth has heated and cooled on its own for centuries. I don't know that there's anything that is a direct cause of that right now, but we can do a better job of cleaning up our planet."
Thanks for clearing that up for us professor Jeff!

The real cause of global warming (3, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447210)

Is all the non believers who have been getting sent to hell recently. With the level of unbelievers and sinners so high hell is now considerably hotter and this is having a knock on effect on the environment. Since god created hell global warming can be laid at his door.

Re:The real cause of global warming (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447560)

It would be more along the lines of the Earth's becoming more secular and wicked, so the whole things being sent to Hell. As the Earth approaches Hell, of course, it's going to get hotter.

Erm... (3, Interesting)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447212)

A California State Senator is seeking to mandate climate change as part of the standard science curriculum. Other members of the legislative body seek to teach an opposing view. ... what opposing view?

Mod parent up (-1, Troll)

NIckGorton (974753) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447240)

Though I will give you the answer.... the opposing view of non-scientist whacktards.

Re:Erm... (2, Funny)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447278)

Fox News?

Re:Erm... (-1, Troll)

MacDork (560499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447282)

what opposing view?

That's a good question. You should find the answer. Most prepared, intelligent debaters make a point of knowing their opponents' viewpoint ahead of time. Most global warming cultists are entirely unaware that an opposing view even exists and that makes them easy targets whenever there is a discussion that their religion views as heresy.

:-) Oh yeah, mod me down. Open minds read at +6 Troll/Flamebait/Redundant/OffTopic anyway.

Re:Erm... (0, Flamebait)

NIckGorton (974753) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447670)

Most global warming cultists are entirely unaware that an opposing view even exists and that makes them easy targets whenever there is a discussion that their religion views as heresy.
You take arguments about the details of the theory to indicate that there is a real opposing view to the concept itself. That is no more true for global warming than it is for evolutionary theory.

Creationists are fond of 'airing the dirty laundry' of evolutionary biologists by flying real academic debate up the flagpole. When Stephen Jay Gould said Darwin was wrong about gradualism. Punctuated equilibrium is a better model of evolution that was shortened by them to Darwin was wrong.

You are doing the same thing here. Show me a reputable scientific society or organization that does not agree that global warming is happening and humans are part of the cause. They might argue that its 50% instead of 80%, but no one is arguing its not there.

Re:Erm... (1)

konohitowa (220547) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447786)

:-) Oh yeah, mod me down. Open minds read at +6 Troll/Flamebait/Redundant/OffTopic anyway.

Funny, I specifically came to this thread to make sure that my +6 Troll/FB was working correctly. I hadn't considered doing the same for redundant and offtopic.

Re:Erm... (1)

MacDork (560499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447860)

I used to do the same, but I discovered some of the best, yet unpopular posts get buried as redundant or off topic. Mods do fear the meta-mods to some extent apparently.

Teach an opposing view? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22447230)

You mean like the climate is static?

The climate has always changed and will always change.

The disputes are over man-made causes and if we could actually do anything about it.

Climate changing is not in dispute.

In before global warming deniers (3, Interesting)

Yusaku Godai (546058) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447260)

Oh....nevermind... :/
Seriously though, I never understood why, on slashdot or all places, there are so many of them. Heck, even if you thought global climate change were a complete scam, wouldn't you at least be in favor of technological advancement? Who wouldn't want to move beyond 19th century technology like internal combustion engines and coal-fired power plants?

I do, however, agree that politicans shouldn't be in the business of setting education curriculum--that's definitely a slippery slope.

Re:In before global warming deniers (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447406)

wouldn't you at least be in favor of technological advancement?


Yes I would be in favor of technological advancement, if it comes at a decent price. Seriously, we don't have anything to replace oil with and most people who believe that all this is caused by us driving cars and such, if its between me driving my car with gas at a reasonable price or me spending an extra $70K on a new car to run on *insert "clean" fuel here* to help make the ocean not rise an extra inch because it is going to flood New York City if I drive a gas-powered car. Honestly, it would make it believable if they didn't go with wild claims of how the world is going to end if Earth's temperature goes up 3 degrees.

Re:In before global warming deniers (3, Insightful)

wwahammy (765566) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447508)

The world is not going to end. Over time though certain parts of the world will become less habitable due to climate change (some places will become more habitable but that's not much comfort for the people whose children die due to an increase in tropical disease). I don't know why you think a 3 degree increase (which is on the lower end of predictions, most seem to be closer to 5 degree) is insignificant. That's actually a fairly substantial increase, especially when the ecosystem doesn't have thousands of year to compensate for the increase.

Re:In before global warming deniers (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447528)

Over time though certain parts of the world will become less habitable due to climate change (some places will become more habitable but that's not much comfort for the people whose children die due to an increase in tropical disease).


Over time though, many things happened that made things less habitable, the Sahara turned from a grassland to a desert and that was before we had cars. If someone can prove, without a doubt that by people driving cars and such, we are causing a great climate change that wouldn't be beneficial I might believe you, but I for one am not willing to pay money for something we aren't even sure we are causing it.

Re:In before global warming deniers (1)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447540)

Heck, even if you thought global climate change were a complete scam
I don't think that people think the facts are a scam, so much as the hypothesis.
Fact: global temperature is rising.
Hypothesis: this change is man made.

Personally, I think that the change is, at least in part, but not necessarily entirely, man made. However, judging by how crazy some GW advocates act (Eek! We're all gonna die unless you buy those swirly light bulbs!), it's not hard to imagine how one might dismiss the entire thing as a scam. Which is unfortunate because, climate change aside, energy efficient technology really is something that should see more use.

Re:In before global warming deniers (1)

bendodge (998616) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447660)

I definitely want technology to move forward, but not on my tax money. I haven't got a problem with private ventures investing in whatever research they want, but when the government steps in/is dragged in, there is a BIG problem.

Be in favor of technological advancement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22447692)

Some of us believe that mixing our food supply with our energy supply is not "technological advancement."

Some of us believe that expanding the federal government control of large parts of our economy is not going to lead to
"technological advancement."

Some of us believe that the climate is always changing and always providing benifits and downsides to certain regions.

Some of us believe that the best way of coping with these changes is to be prosperous.

Some of us believe that the big-government, anti-market beliefs intertwined with the green movement are actually counterproductive to us coping with climate change.

Re:In before global warming deniers (1)

lattyware (934246) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447830)

Because on Slashdot, more people actually read up and check the facts, rather than taking what they are told, and by the media, no less, as the truth on an issue. Global warming is happening. We are running out of fossil fuels. We should be switching to alternate power sources. Is human activity the cause of Global Warming? No. The fact of the matter is that as temperature increases, CO2 increases - not the other way around. The biggest store of CO2 is in the oceans, dissolved in the water. When the climate gets hotter, the oceans get hotter, water evaporates, and CO2 is released into the atmosphere. The media has the correlation the wrong way round.

the guy is a politician so .... (2, Interesting)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447280)

is this education or indoctrination?

Why not let scientists decide what should be taught in science?

Now there's a radical idea!

Re:the guy is a politician so .... (1, Redundant)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447310)

Why not let science teachers decide what should be taught in science?

Fixed it for you. You're welcome.

Re:the guy is a politician so .... (2, Insightful)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447312)

The problem is most public school science teachers aren't scientists. You don't get those teaching you science until you go to a university, and they rarely get input into how science is actually taught before then. Science/math preparation for high school students going into those fields is lamentable in most of the US.

Re:the guy is a politician so .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22447410)

The problem is most public school science teachers aren't scientists.

Maybe that's why the state of science education in high school is so bad.

Re:the guy is a politician so .... (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447696)

The problem is most public school * teachers aren't *.

Maybe that's why the state of education in high school is so bad.

Re:the guy is a politician so .... (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447390)

Yes, far too radical for one reason... it takes politics and money out of the equation basically.

The idea that students should be given a well rounded education has long ago been abandoned in the US. Special interest groups of EVERY kind have wheedled their way into the education system for various reasons, none of which are more than superficially sane.

The idea that schooling should prepare you for life died when an 8th grade education stopped being something to be proud of.

Now, you need a college degree and 3-5 years experience in any topic (without regard to whether it has been in existence that long or not) to even get an interview. No, America has given up on doing things a sensible way when it comes to education. I'm pretty certain that home schooling supporters have a very valid argument.

It's better to make sure they pass the tests rather than test to ensure they are prepared for life. How many school systems mandate teaching of how to balance your bank book? How many teach students about buying houses? How many students know something about Insurance? How many college graduates know how to budget their money?

Mandating anything for the school system curriculum on a political basis is like mandating how businesses should operate based on religious issues. There is a little overlap to each party, but neither should make mandate on the other really. When they do, the law of unintended consequences is bound to bite someone in the ass, and more often than not, the bitten are the students, and later the communities that they live in.

Global warming is a SCIENCE issue, not a political one. The politics of it is whether your politicians listen to scientists or not.
Evolution is a SCIENCE issue, not a political one. The politics of it is whether your politicians base their decisions on religion or cold hard reason.

The US Government of the people, for the people, by the people should only mandate that politics, religion, and science be separate things where education is concerned EXCEPT for explain how the first two totally fuck up the third.

Sounds political (2, Insightful)

tyler_larson (558763) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447304)

Schools aren't required to teach about the dangers of ozone depletion, nuclear fallout, or mercury poisoning -- what exactly is it that elevates this particular environmental catastrophe to the point of being required curriculum in primary education?

Something doesn't seem right about it.

Re:Sounds political (2, Informative)

ChromaticDragon (1034458) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447446)

I completely agree. I'm not certain what the norm is with regards to Science education. But it doesn't seem to bode well to politicize the choice of what gets taught.

To me it would seem far more important to mandate a course or two throughout the K-12 curriculum on Critical Thinking.

I'm rather worried about too much spoon-feeding of children in education. I'm not talking about presenting the traditional opposing sides of a controversial issue (eg. Creationism vs. Evolution) and letting the children make up their minds. Indeed, I really don't have a problem teaching primarily or only the consensus viewpoint in the early years.

But as the kids get a bit older, they really should be adequately prepared to digest the immense volume of information available today. Critical Thinking might help equip them to withstand the constant onslaught from Madison Avenue and Hollywood. It would hopefully help them see through most political shenanigans. Toss in some good logic, dialectic and debate and these kids would be well able to discuss most controversial issues such as what to do about Climate Change.

Re:Sounds political (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22447448)

I wonder if we'd get the same kind of skeptical response of this issue were not about climate control, but instead about detailed sexual education.

Re:Sounds political (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447450)

what exactly is it that elevates this particular environmental catastrophe to the point of being required curriculum in primary education?


Because this way all the students will think they have "facts" to go vote for tax increases and more government standards to make gas even more expensive and cars too! Really California has gone far enough to make sure our country is protected from any "threat" that we can get from being a productive country and eating foods that may not be the healthiest and guess what! We need warning labels now to tell us that its not good to eat lead because it may cause birth defects! Honestly, if California used "terrorist" instead of "global warming" or "climate change" we would have the patriot act.

Re:Sounds political (1)

Destined Soul (1240672) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447718)

True, something doesn't seem right about it, and that's probably due to politicians prescribing what is specifically taught.

It's such a hot-topic, and has been for a few years now, that everyone and their dog has opinions on it. It would be nice if people were actually taught the facts behind it rather than being informed by word of mouth. (Telephone game, anyone?) Having schools teach about climate change couldn't be any worse than learning the current propaganda emitted by the general public and media, IMO.

I think it should be taught, but I just wouldn't want anything other than scientists in the field (Masters or better) writing the chapter on it. I know I wouldn't trust my current knowledge on climate change enough to be publicly taught as fact without having true experts check on it.

Re:Sounds political (1)

NIckGorton (974753) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447802)

Schools are required to teach a lot of specific things. For example in CA, here are the (very detailed) state mandated standards for primary science education: http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/scmain.asp [ca.gov]

Schools aren't required to teach about the dangers of ozone depletion, nuclear fallout, or mercury poisoning -- what exactly is it that elevates this particular environmental catastrophe to the point of being required curriculum in primary education?
We mandate you have to teach kids to read in English, but not that they are fluent in Latin. You can't teach fourth graders everything, but you can make sure you hit the high points - a threat to humanity of this magnitude is a high point. In addition, like evolution in biology you can't really teach Earth Science without covering this. It would be like trying to understand biology while ignoring evolutionary theory: you can do it, but it resembles stamp collecting more than it does science.

Zonk forgot to add... (1)

afeinberg (9848) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447360)

That we have a pretty decent commentary on this [capitolvalley.net] over at Capitol Valley, so please feel free to discuss it there, too. I'm a little annoyed at the liberties the editors take with submissions these days. I mean, I've been around since '98-99 (see the 4 digit UID, dude?) and there used to be a bit more respect for the submitters instead of just trying to keep traffic on the site.
 
Hey Zonk, could you at least add my URL to my name on the main post, dude? Come on.

Education (5, Insightful)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447364)

Well, climate change is an important contemporary issue in science, no matter what your opinion. I think injecting a bit more science into the whole thing would only be a good idea. Then again, judging from some of the comments regarding climate change, it seems to me that science education in general needs to be addressed.

The thing that amazes me about this whole thing is that (otherwise intelligent) people seem to have been suckered by marketing. For example, companies that advertise about C02 being a harmless gas are simultaneously investing in arctic oil exploration (on the assumption that the arctic ice is melting). Maybe the biggest thing that needs to be taught in science is objective reasoning - something that seems fairly thin on the ground..

Here's something I often read on /. written though it were gospel:
"correlation != causation" - true, but I'd challenge anyone to name a single scientific "law" we _know_ to be caused, and don't "merely" observe correlation.

The other thing that amazes me are the number of people who believe really weird things about climate change research. For example, I've read comments alleging that climate scientists "tweak" their models to fit known weather patterns, but never verify those models on other data. This is such a patently ridiculous allegation that in any other field it would be laughed off the stage, but for some reason there is a group of people who are desperate to dis-believe in climate change no matter what the evidence.

Re:Education (1)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447512)

The other thing that amazes me are the number of people who believe really weird things about climate change research. For example, I've read comments alleging that climate scientists "tweak" their models to fit known weather patterns, but never verify those models on other data. This is such a patently ridiculous allegation that in any other field it would be laughed off the stage, but for some reason there is a group of people who are desperate to dis-believe in climate change no matter what the evidence.

This has been a constant source of amazement to me as well. Of course scientists try to make their models reproduce known phenomena, otherwise it wouldn't be a very good model. But that is less to do with tweaking parameters and more to do with trying to get an understanding of what's really going on and making sure your model equations reproduce it. A good model that reproduces El Nino does so not because someone programmed in "El Nino" but rather because the equations of fluid mechanics when coupled with Earth-like inputs happen to have an El Nino oscillation. The truth is no one model is perfect, which is why techniques such as ensemble averaging were created. If several different models are telling you the same general thing, there's a good chance something real is going on there.

Re:Education (2, Interesting)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447812)

Heh, Computational Fluid Dynamics is a complicated and diverse field. ALL CFD codes are characterized by the simplifying assumptions they make in order to actually have results in a time period where the results could potentially be useful. Further, the models aren't so much good as actual predictors, but as filters for more general theories: If the theory doesn't work in the model that uses its assumptions, then the it and/or the assumptions are wrong, or there are hidden assumptions which have not been characterized.

The point of all this is that if a model reproduces "El Nino" it very likely was designed to. There are other effects which it will wildly mis characterize or miss entirely. The interesting option occurs when the model is designed to reproduce some other effect, and happens to reproduce "El Nino" as well. Then there is a lot of good work to be had determining if it offers real insight, or is just a fluke of the results.

Ensemble averaging is bullshit. You can't just take a series of specialized models and tie them together and expect to get anything out of it but the original assumptions. Especially true as many models are descendants of other models, which will interfere with your weighting even more. What you can do is apply several different models to different domains and link them together. But the problem there is that the complexity makes it more difficult to determine what's really going on.

Re:Education (1)

ChromaticDragon (1034458) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447740)

Glad to see you're getting modded back up. I have no idea why you were marked Troll to start.

However, your comment regarding the Correlation vs. Causation thing is a bit strange. You've taken a rather simple principle and thrust it into the realm of philosophy.

This comment is just a reminder that the discovery of a correlation is not the end of research but more akin to the beginning. A correlation is interesting. It is a necessary but non-sufficient component to a dependency or causation.

If A->B and A->C...

We might find a correlation between B & C. This might get a tad confusing because sometimes D->C and we don't see the correlation between B & C. Enough research and we may figure out when and why we see the correlation.

Or we could see a correlation between A & B, but we don't know yet which is causing which or if even a dependency is truly there. A lot more research may be required to clarify this.

What people mean when they bring up this statement is that we really cannot yet make definitive statements if all we have discovered is just a correlation. But based on those correlations we may be able to come up with explanatory models and theories that may be able to demonstrate a causal relationship. These theories could then be judged against further data. (sigh... at least that's what they SHOULD mean when they bring this up... sometime I wonder...)

Your point that we never really know if all concluded Causation is just an illusion is a bit trite and easily overruled by Occam's Razor. Yes, it might be possible that in the deepest reality, X->A and X->B and in such a way that to us it always looks like A->B. But, to grossly oversimplify Occam's Razor... WHO CARES?!?

Just give them the tools to discuss the matter... (5, Insightful)

NetSettler (460623) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447368)

I think this is a critical issue, but I'd rather not turn it into a situation where people are fighting over whether they get to teach the answer. Rather, I'd make it a mandate to produce students who are capable of intelligently discussing the questions.

Here's what I'd teach them:

  • Enough chemistry to understand what a compound is, and how atoms rearrange in order to make different molecules, and how energy is required and released in the process. One could teach this from a fairly young age, even without a full chemistry course. Just so they're conversant in the concepts and can know they want to learn more.

  • Enough math to know what exponents are and what the difference is between a straight line and non-linear curve is. Even if they blur the huge difference between squares and exponentials, the notion that one can't simply rely on knowing that if it took x years to do something, it will take x more years to do twice that, it would be good.

    Also, again in the math front, enough math to understand simple optimization issues--nothing fancy. The ability to optimize the area of a rectangle is almost enough. They must be able to do simple things like know when it's good for a few people to do big things and when it's better for a lot of people to do little things and when neither of these will work and everyone has to do something big in order for anything to matter.

    Enough math to be able to comprehend the sheer quantity of waste and pollution in the world.

  • Enough statistics and probabilities to be able to understand why something can happen one year, not happen another, and then happen again ... and yet still be a trend. That is, they must understand the difference between a tendancy toward something and a promise that something will occur.

  • Enough logic to understand what it takes to prove and disprove existential and universal quantifications.

  • Enough philosophy and morality to understand and discuss risk analysis and the general good.

  • Enough politics to understand how it's BOTH the case that an obviously good idea won't necessarily be adopted by the free market, and something that is forced by government won't necessarily fix a problem.

  • Enough economics to know how to calculate which investments are going to pay off and which are just boondoggles lining someone's pockets in the short term at the expense of the long-term good.

  • Enough history to revive the notion of sacrifice for the greater good and get people out of the "it's all about me" mode.

  • Enough biology to understand what an ecosystem is and how one thing affects another. There was a very good episode of the Wild Thornberrys where the ecosystem got upset by a small change and there was a big disaster. Required viewing of that would almost suffice in my eyes. Just enough to be able to understand the significance of the reefs going away or some plankton going away or polar bears going away in some sort of operational terms that didn't make it seems "distant and unrelated".

  • Enough common sense to understand that not all things labeled bio-degradable, green, or earth-friendly are actually saving people money. We don't have to teach which ones are, just that the question has to be asked and that the answers might be deliberately obscured.

  • And, just maybe, enough religion to understand that Noah didn't survive the Flood by sitting back and assuming it was God's will or that God would just take care of him.

    And enough to know that the true meaning of Faith is that you have enough confidence in what you believe that you are not threatened by truth and science.

    Bravo to the United Church of Christ for its recent "not mutually exclusive" [ucc.org] stance on science and technology. (I'm not a member of that church, by the way. I just saw notice of this and thought it was cool.)

Re:Just give them the tools to discuss the matter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22447976)

I'm assuming you'd teach this in 2nd or 3rd year University?

I've dealt with enough 1st year science students (3+ years, full-time) to know that most of them wouldn't be able to get what you're proposing. Some might get most of it by 2nd year, while most would be 3rd or even 4th year to put it all together. And that's assuming that you simplify everything just enough to put it into one or two courses. It's not that they can't do it, but that their high school diploma doesn't guarantee much more than "I can read, write, use a calculator for multiplying two numbers, and I've successfully been babysat for 12-13 years" and it takes University a couple of years to correct what should've been done long ago. (Sorry for the rant, but it's essentially true where I live.)

Ironically, I still think it would be a fabulous idea to (try to) teach this all together. Too bad high-schools, the ones that I know of, don't teach anything like this.

A rather silly law (2, Interesting)

Btarlinian (922732) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447414)

Like many people on Slashdot it seems, I think this law is rather pointless, but not necessarily for the same reasons. If you RTFA, anthropogenic global warming skeptics, then you would know that the bill does not mandate that any specifics of climate change be taught, i.e., no one is being told to teach that CO2 emissions are causing global warming. Rather it simply requires that climate change be taught as part of the California science curriculum. It's up to the state education board to determine specific standards as to what is being taught in specific grades.

I would think that even the skeptics (at least on Slashdot) would agree that the earth is getting warmer. Just teaching this in schools doesn't seem to be controversial in the slightest. But it seems rather silly to mandate this in a piece of legislation. It would be like mandating that algebra and geometry be taught to high school students. Any decent earth science curriculum (the focus of 6th grade science education in California) would already have this as part of its standards. Legislation is overkill.

The Most Instructive Bits (2, Insightful)

Bob(TM) (104510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447516)

The problem with this is the most instructive bits of the topic would never really be covered in a course. All wrapped in the climate change topic are examples that:

* politicians will sensationalize for votes
* scientists will overstate for grants
* media will embellish for attention
* countries will argue for/against for power

and, really, the science of the matter - ie., the FACTS ... the stuff most people really don't want to hear about - only really served to be a platform on which to stand to "look out for number one."

And, just to be clear, I was also one of those climate change research types that got involved before it was fashionable and when Gore was still in Congress looking to make a mark. I was disgusted then; I'm disgusted now.

The best thing you can take away from the study is a healthy measure of skepticism.

Educational NASA Global Climate Model (2, Informative)

HoneyBeeSpace (724189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447522)

The EdGCM [columbia.edu] project has wrapped a NASA global climate model (GCM) in a GUI (OS X and Win). You can add CO2 or turn the sun down by a few percent all with a checkbox and a slider. Supercomputers and advanced FORTRAN programmers are no longer necessary to run your own GCM.

Targeted to high school and undergraduate levels. Includes lesson plans, sample homework assignments, and documentation about how it meets the education standards.

Disclaimer: I'm the project developer.

Climate change is a fact; global warming is bullsh (2, Insightful)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447640)

Climate change is a documented fact. Within recorded human history we have gone through two 1500-year warming / cooling cycles. There's evidence on every continent of this. But human-caused global warming is bullshit. Basically, we're being asked to believe that the inevitable warming is *more* warm *now* than it *should* be. We have zero evidence of that. Nobody can say with any precision how quickly the earth warms when it warms. It was warmer during the Roman Warming than it is now. Fig trees grew in northern Italy where they don't grow now.

Yeah, teach climate change, but teaching global warming is as bad as teaching creationism. They're both faith-based education.

Re:Climate change is a fact; global warming is bul (1)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447886)

It was warmer during the Roman Warming than it is now. Fig trees grew in northern Italy where they don't grow now.

You're conflating regional trends with global mean. In history various parts of the world have been warmer or colder than they are now, this isn't disputed. But in general for everyplace that got warmer, somewhere else got colder. The trend now is that global mean temperature is going up well beyond where it has been in several thousand years.

Seems fishy... (1)

sahilamin (1235852) | more than 6 years ago | (#22447772)

California is a very liberal state and this just seems like another way to spread the propaganda of global warming into children's minds. Instead of teaching them about climate change, why don't they teach them about the biological history of the earth itself? It would be much more informational and relevant.

Oh, and I do not beleive that global warming is real, I think this is merely an extinction age.
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