Educating climate science—or how AGW propaganda gets away with it

— by Anthony J. Sadar, American Thinker, 22 December 2014

With the close of another college semester, the long holiday break can give educators a chance to ponder the dismal state of science literacy in the U.S. The sad decline in robust science education is certainly part of the problem and is perhaps most obvious in environmental science classrooms. Contributing to the issue is the skewed content in many college textbooks on the environment and ecology.

As a part-time college professor of the physical, environmental and atmospheric sciences since 1986 and a practitioner in the field since the late 1970s, I have had the opportunity to review and use numerous popular textbooks.

I was disappointed to read in one of the latest textbooks—Essential Environment: The Science Behind the Stories, 5th edition (2015) by Jay Withgott and Matthew Laposata [see book cover below]—the following distorted statement about those of us who dare to challenge the current groupthink on climate change.

“Public debate over climate change has been fanned by corporate interests, spokespeople from think tanks and a handful of scientists funded by fossil fuel industries, all of whom have aimed to cast doubt on the scientific consensus.” (p. 322)

This typical misrepresentation is found within Chapter 14 of the book, titled “Global Climate Change.” The subsection is labelled “Are we responsible for climate change?” and contains a mere six long sentences crafted to convince students that there are no real honest skeptics of the “consensus” view.

But in truth there are many of us who frankly represent no corporate interests, are not involved with think-tanks and have no connection with fossil fuel industries (except to enjoy the comfortable benefits afforded by modern energy).

In my discussions with numerous environmental professionals, nearly all have expressed at least some doubt (and most express much doubt) that humans are largely responsible for long-term global climate change. Yet textbook authors continue to push the idea on vulnerable students that the matter is an open-and-shut case.

A 2012 poll conducted by the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication that quizzed members of the American Meteorological Society (including me) about their confidence that we humans are causing climate change revealed that the so-called consensus claim is quite dubious. Setting aside the fact that consensus-building is the bailiwick of politicians, not scientists, and even assuming the existence of substantial anthropogenic global warming, no more than 40% of AMS respondents to the George Mason questionnaire claimed that such global warming is dangerous. The survey results further challenge the official proclamation of the AMS that asserts that humans are largely responsible for climate change.

Several years ago, when I was a student in a doctoral science education program, we were rightly instructed to shun “final-form science”—that is, scientific conclusions that claim to be established beyond any reasonable doubt and are dictated to students as absolute truth. Nevertheless, the dogmatic climate-change statements of “consensus” and “settled” science being inculcated in unsuspecting undergraduate students are exactly that—readily challengeable and practically challenged science portrayed as established, indisputable fact. By practically challenged science, I refer to the greater than 15-year “hiatus” in global warming that has been confounding the hypothesis of human greenhouse gas impact on global temperatures.

In addition, practically challenged includes the objective observations and perspective of real-world field professionals who experience and research a complex climate system that is far from explicable by subjective academic climate models.

Scientific literacy will be better promoted by textbook authors providing a broader—and thus more accurate—perspective on critical contemporary issues such as global climate change. Any book that claims to tell the story of science behind the headlines yet obfuscates how real-world science operates does a disservice to both students and society.

Anthony J. Sadar, a certified consulting meteorologist, is author of In Global Warming We Trust: A Heretic’s Guide to Climate Science (Telescope Books, 2012).

– h/t Richard Cumming

The Inculcation of Final-form Climate Science

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