Bullying into Belief

My first post is on a rather unusual subject. It is an expression of the way in which climate change has come to be framed, in particular by climate change zealots.

I’m afraid that what I am going to post here is somewhat ugly. It is the experience of a young Australian high school student, who has made the error of heresy in a class on Society and History. I will let the student in question tell the story, by quoting from a section of  his blog post:

For the third lesson the PowerPoint was brought out again with even more questionable statements claiming that putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is causing: an increase in temperature by one degree; a rise in sea levels; more bush fires; more droughts; more animals to become extinct; malaria to become more widespread (so much so that it would spread to the Northern Territory); the Arctic Ocean to be ice-free by 2050; the extinction of the polar bear; and, my personal favourite, “China and Indonesia will be too hot to grow rice.”  My reaction was to cry out, “What?”  The teacher simply told me to be quiet then went on with what she was saying whilst the rest of the class glared at me—accept for a select few whom I have been able to convince that global warming is fake.

There is much more. The young blogger is alarmed at the way in which the entire subject is framed, and feels that dissent is not considered acceptable. His teacher? She will brook no alternative view. The science is settled, there is a consensus, and what does this boy know anyway? It sounds very much like the young student is being bullied into submission. Except he is not submitting, but determined to stick to what he believes is the truth.

No doubt, those that defend the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis will point to arguments about intelligent design as defence of the teacher. However, much of what the teacher was teaching was nonsense, even if taking the (questionable) view of AGW from the IPCC, the holy grail of AGW theory. The comments at the bottom of the post tell that story, so I will not elaborate here. The point is that, in all but the most extreme beliefs about AGW, there is absolutely no foundation to much of what the teacher is saying. Nevertheless, this is what is being taught.

How did we get to a point where a teacher might bully a student in a class? Perhaps, if the teacher had at least taken the mainstream of the AGW hypothesis, there might possibly have been some very limited justification for this approach, but I would still struggle to accept it in any form.  However, the teacher’s version of AGW seemed to be the worst kind of junk climate science, the variety peddled by Al Gore. Whatever your position on climate change, do you think this is acceptable?

As for the sneering class mates. What can we make of this? I am rather worried that this might be the case. What has the education system done to these children so that they feel that such intolerance on this particular subject is acceptable?

There is much to concern us in this story. Whatever your view of AGW, if you look at what the teacher is teaching, she is in no position to be critical of the student. But, I am sure she will get away with it. She clearly has no understanding of mainstream climate science, but still feels entitled to try to belittle a young student who questions the AGW thesis.

The young student’s position does seem to have struck a chord however, as can be seen in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper:

I’ve had some good news on the climate war front which I’m looking forward to telling you about next week. Till then, I invite you to join me in a toast to an Australian schoolboy named Alfred S who stood up to the vilification of his teachers and class mates by refusing to bow down and worship ManBearPig. (H/T Bishop Hill)

The good news in this story is that the student has been deluged with goodwill, and this can be found in the comments. I only hope that the story has a happy ending, and that standing up does not cost the student dearly. Perhaps it is a sign of the times that I worry for the student for taking this stand.



One response to “Bullying into Belief

  1. Richard C (NZ)

    Great first post. If that is what is happening in Australia, is there a similar situation in NZ schools?

    I don’t have children in the education system so am out of the loop when it comes to what is being taught. I would hope that our students are encouraged to engage in critical analysis that explores the alternatives, the Al Gore approach to education (this is how it is, believe what I say regardless) is little more than propaganda and the antithesis of the scientific method.

    I suspect that those students supporting the teacher are completely ignorant of the details of the underlying (but undocumented) hypothesis of CAGW i.e. that the human contribution (4%) to an atmospheric gas that is only 0.039% of the atmosphere is the catalyst for catastrophe that over the last decade has not lived up to predictions.

    Now there’s even speculation that mans fossil fuel emissions (via man-made climate change) “could” exacerbate earthquakes and tsunamis. I sincerely hope that the critiquing ability of our NZ students is sufficiently developed to explore solar, lunar, celestial and global forces to put some perspective on that notion if it ever gets peddled in our schools. Notable that those same massive forces (e.g. magnetism) are considered negligible by man-made climate change proponents along with the more subtle variations of cosmic ray fluxes that correlate with temperature far better than CO2 ever has.

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