A genuine teach-in can be a positive educational force if its organizers invite students to think freely about serious issues after pondering all relevant facts, theories, and opinions.
Alas, as practiced in American education the teach-in is much more of a preach-in, intended to hammer a predetermined ideological agenda into young minds.
That clearly is what the vaunted National Teach-In on Global Warming is shaping up to be this Thursday.
Led by an economics professor at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon, the Teach-In is intended to enlist students and teachers from grade schools and universities, along with members of faith-based and civic organizations, in a campaign promoting passage of environmentalist legislation in the first 100 days of President Barack Obama’s administration.
The rhetoric of the Teach-In’s coalition of activist organizations is alarmist to the point of being apocalyptic. “The window for action on global warming is measured in months, not years,” the organizers assert. “Decisions that we make–or fail to make–in 2009 will have profound impacts not only for our children and grandchildren, but for every human being that will ever inhabit the face of this earth from now until the end of time.”
The National Teach-In Web site (www.nationalteachin.org) also complains, “more Americans now believe that global warming is caused by natural cycles then [sic] human-causes [sic].” That sentence is another clue that this event will fall well short of being educational. One would expect the organizers of a credible teach-in to know third-grade grammar and spelling.
One also would expect that an educational exercise on climate change would feature eminent scientists as the lead teachers. Instead, the online Teach-In will put presenters from environmentalist groups such as Plains Justice, National Capitalism Solutions, 1Sky, and the National Wildlife Federation front and center. Could they not find four actual climate scientists to teach climate science? Evidently the last thing you want at a preach-in is sound science.
One Teach-In module for radicalizing young minds seeks to convince them that emissions from manmade economic activity are dangerously heating the planet. It asks kids to explain how “even though a thing may not require energy to work, the creation of the thing may have taken a lot of energy and contributed to global warming.”
The alarmists’ condemnation of economic production and prediction of an imminent demise of the Earth may help explain why the public is growing increasingly skeptical of their agenda. Their predictions have repeatedly failed to materialize in the real world.
For example, NASA satellite instruments showed global temperatures in 2008 were below average in comparison to the 30 years since NASA launched the instruments. That finding continues a global cooling trend that has been occurring most of the past decade.
Furthermore, global temperatures have risen less than 2/10ths of a degree Celsius since those NASA temperature gauges were launched in 1979. At that pace, Mother Earth would need another 15 full centuries before global temperatures approached those that dominated the planet for much of the past 8,000 years.
Don’t expect the National Teach-In to bring those data to students’ attention. Scientific truths are inconvenient when you’re peddling dogma.
Robert Holland ([email protected]) is a senior fellow for education policy at The Heartland Institute of Chicago.