Portland school board bans climate change-denying materials

Daily News Article - May 24, 2016


PLEASE NOTE: Daily posting and “Answers” emails will end for the school year on Friday, May 27th.

While you might not feel strongly about a certain topic, others around you might take a strong position on one side or the other. Learn to logically defend your position, and politely respect your neighbor’s point of view. And if your neighbor gets argumentative with you, remind each other that both sides need to be tolerant of the other’s point of view.

The issue of man-made global warming is extremely controversial.  Many people will absolutely refuse to hear the opposing view on this issue.  The better approach is to learn the facts/statistics supporting your side of the issue and to be able to express them clearly and concisely.

1. a) What resolution did the Portland (Oregon) Public Schools unanimously approve last week?
b) What will the school district specifically be required to do?

2. Who initiated the resolution? Be specific.

3. Mr. Bigelow accuses energy companies of pressuring textbook publishers to present fossil fuels as possibly, rather than the definite cause of catastrophic climate change. Do you think Mr. Bigelow and his environmental groups are trying to pressure textbook publishers to portray climate change as fact with no room for doubt or questioning? Explain your answer.

4. a) What statement from the Physical Science textbook currently used by the district does Mr. Bigelow object to?
b) Do you agree with his assertion that words like might, may and could when talking about climate change/global warming are wrong? Explain your answer.
c) Ask a parent the same question.

5. Various recent polls have indicated that the number of Americans who believe the use of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) will cause catastrophic global warming has decreased. But those who believe it is a fact and not a theory dismiss them. Some have gone farther than just discounting them:

Rhode Island Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse wrote in June 2015 “urg[ing] the U.S. Department of Justice to consider filing a racketeering suit against the oil and coal industries for having promoted wrongful thinking on climate change, with the activities of ‘conservative policy’ groups an apparent target of the investigation as well.”

Others had already gone farther than the senator himself, calling for making “climate denial” a “crime against humanity,” holding public trials of fossil fuel executives for having resisted the truth and so forth. (From an October 2015 commentary in Newsweek)

Why is it wrong for Americans to try to silence (or even criminalize) those with whom they disagree? (Hint: First Amendment)

6. In contrast to those who say the use of fossil fuels is destroying our planet, Indur Goklany, a science and technology policy analyst for the U.S. Department of the Interior, wrote:

The improvement in human well-being have been enabled directly or indirectly through the use of fossil fuels or fossil-fuel powered technologies and economic growth. This is because every human activity—whether it is growing crops, cooking food, building a home, making and transporting goods, delivering services, using electrical equipment for any purpose, studying under a light or going on holiday—depends directly or indirectly on the availability of energy (see below) and, in today’s world, energy is virtually synonymous with fossil fuels; they supply 82% of global energy used. (from cornwallalliance.org)

Many respected scientists do not believe in the theory of catastrophic climate change caused by man’s use of fossil fuels. What do you think of Portland School Board’s decision to ban any book that presents climate change/global warming as a theory rather than a fact?