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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Smart Alec... NOT!

Caption: Clever monkey

Am I glad I live in South Africa, where laws like this have not been passed (yet). This is a law in Tennessee which will govern how climate change is taught in classrooms.
"...the Tennessee bill is based on an ALEC model bill passed in May 2000. We explained at the time,

'The bill's opening clause reads [PDF], 'The purpose of this act is to enhance and improve the environmental literacy of students and citizens in the state by requiring that all environmental education programs and activities conducted by schools, universities, and agencies shall…'

Provide a range of perspectives presented in a balanced manner.

Provide instruction in critical thinking so that students will be able to fairly and objectively evaluate scientific and economic controversies.

Be presented in language appropriate for education rather than for propagandizing.

Encourage students to explore different perspectives and form their own opinions.

Encourage an atmosphere of respect for different opinions and open-mindedness to new ideas.

Not be designed to change student behavior, attitudes or values.

Not include instruction in political action skills nor encourage political action activities.'

To summarize, under this model bill and its relatives, global warming will be taught as a "theory" among other "credible theories," including those unscientific "theories" peddled by the well-paid "merchants of doubt."

This, of course, flies in the face of the well-accepted scientific consensus, which has proven global warming as the harsh reality, time and time again. The science speaks for itself, and thefossil fuel money funding climate change deniers speaks for itself.

The Tennessee Bill

Key portions of the Tennessee bills are as follows (emphases mine):

"The teaching of some scientific subjects, including, but not limited to,biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and humancloning, can cause controversy."

"The state board of education, public elementary and secondary school governing authorities, directors of schools, school system administrators, and public elementary and secondary school principals and administrators shall endeavor to create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to…respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues."

Neither the state board of education, nor any public elementary or secondary school governing authority, director of schools, school system administrator, or any public elementary or secondary school principal or administrator shall prohibit any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught."

Look familar? It should.

The bill was opposed by a broad-based coalition, including the National Association of Biology Teachers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Nashville Tennessean, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the National Earth Science Teachers Association, the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, and all eight Tennessee members of the National Academy of Sciences.

These voices of reason were no opposition to ALEC, its corporate backers, and the politicians who serve them, which saw the bill pass with little opposition whatsoever."
(From )

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Stormy weather

Waiver: these are NOT tropical storm clouds!

The South-West Indian Ocean Basin is apparently one of the most dangerous tropical storm regions in the world, with an average of 80 deaths a year. Apparently Hurricane Irina, which just caused havoc along the KwaZulu-Natal coast, brings the death toll for this year so far to 164 - and there are still at least two months of the season to go.
is this fall-out from warmer seas due to climate change, one wonders?