Bloggers Should Go Back to School, But Not in Iowa City

Published August 26, 2008

Deb Thornton was right on target when she objected to biased teaching of global warming science to students at Iowa City High School (“Core curriculum? It’s more like Gore curriculum,” Press-Citizen, August 17). And she hit the bull’s eye when she identified Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth as the vehicle indoctrinating them.

But this is a problem goes beyond Iowa City students.

Thornton’s column kicked off a blogging firestorm that’s still going on. One problem with the “Gore curriculum,” Thornton wrote, is that students are jumping headfirst into policy arguments they’re ill-equipped to engage because they haven’t first studied the underlying science. The adult bloggers who attacked her are doing the exact same thing. Here are some examples:

“Global Warming is established fact, the global climate is changing and has been getting gradually warmer for over a century–coincident, by the way, with widespread industrialization.”

Not true. Princeton physicist S. Fred Singer, Ph.D. writes in Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years that temperatures were warmer than they are now during the Medieval Warm Period from 900 A.D. to 1300 A.D. Then came the Little Ice Age, from 1300 A.D. to 1850 A.D. Temperatures warmed between 1850 and 1940–before substantial growth in manmade emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning fossil fuels. From 1940 to 1975 (during “widespread industrialization” and increased CO2 emissions), data show a cooling trend. Temperatures warmed from 1976 through 1978, then warmed only slightly from 1979 to 2000, and have not warmed at all since then. (See Singer and Avery, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years (2007), and Taylor, “Little Ice Age May Return Soon, Russian Scientists Say,” Environment and Climate News (February 2007),

“The North Pole has melted for Pete’s sake. The North Pole has melted. How many x-rays of Chicken Little’s fractured skull do people need?” and “You do understand that this ice is not supposed to be melting in the first place, right? … re-freezing is a very very bad thing”

Actually, melting and refreezing are what glaciers do. Glaciers in the Arctic melted during the Medieval Warm Period and expanded during the Little Ice Age. More recently, the trend has been mixed, with some Arctic glaciers melting, some expanding, and some in equilibrium. That’s normal. (See Unstoppable Global Warming, pages 70-72.)

“Uh, if solar cycles are partly, even mostly, responsible [for global warming], then isn’t it even more irresponsible to ignore the human contribution–excessive CO2–which compounds the natural phenomena?”

No. Increased CO2 in the atmosphere does not cause global warming; it results from warming. (See Robinson, Robinson, and Soon, “Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide,” Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (2007) 12, 79-90, at

And then, of course, there were those who blogged the outrageous lie that “The Heartland Institute is a mouthpiece for ExxonMobil.” In fact, prior to 2006, Exxon contributed less than 5 percent of Heartland’s spending, and it has given nothing since then. (Global warming science is an extremely complex subject. For an overview, see Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate, Summary for Policymakers of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, at

It harms the development of critical thinking skills in public school students when educators present only the alarmist view and act as if it were undisputed fact. The Heartland Institute is encouraging parents and taxpayers to insist schools live up to their legal obligations to educate children without bias, through legal action if necessary, with its Gore in the Classroom project. Contact me.

The truth shall keep us free.

Maureen Martin, J.D. ([email protected]) is senior fellow for legal affairs at The Heartland Institute. A longer version of this oped, with source citations, is available upon request from Dan Miller, publisher, at 312/377-4000, email [email protected].