It looks like the Kansas legislature has taken a tiny break from limiting abortion rights to meddle in science education. You’re first instinct might be to assume it has something to do with evolution. Nope! Not this time. This time is something even more dangerous. You guessed it! Climate science!
Did you know that climate change is a controversial topic? Oh wait. It isn’t. Not in the scientific community, anyway. Earth’s climate is getting warmer and it’s caused by the burning of fossil fuels. These are things we know; very few scientists disagree. But the facts didn’t stop this bill from being to the Kansas House.
The bill, which has just been presented to the full House (from what I can only assume is the ironically named House Education Committee), says that science classes must “provide information to students of scientific evidence which both supports and counters a scientific theory or hypothesis.” (You know, this bill is so right. I mean, no one ever taught me the evidence that counters gravity and today I just accept it like it’s no biggie. I might be able to fly by now if I was only presented with all the facts!)
Hmmm…this sounds an awful lot like that ‘teach the controversy’ nonsense floated around by creationists in opposition to evolution. Will it be used again to deny some kind of well-regarded scientific findings? Answer: Yes. Yes it will.
The bill goes on to instruct teachers on how they should handle scientific controversies. It says that teaching such controversies should be done an objective manner and should include both the strengths and weaknesses of the theory or hypothesis. The only controversy named in the bill is climate change.
The only climate change controversy is political, not scientific. So yeah, codifying that into law sounds like an awesome idea.
Unfortunately, Kansas isn’t the only state to do this. Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Louisiana have all found ways to introduce this political fight into science classrooms. Because, you know, if we just deny it for long enough, the climate of the Earth won’t change and everything will be hunky dory.
The thing about good science is that it’s true whether you believe in it or not. It’s true whether you choose to deny its existence or not. And, even though it’s tempting to hide our heads in the sand, we have a lot of good science backing up the existence of man-made climate change. We aren’t doing our kids – or ourselves – any favors by pretending it doesn’t exist, or that there is legitimate scientific controversy surrounding it. Sea levels will rise, storms will become stronger and more frequent, and we will need people to deal with the ramifications. Teaching kids that ignoring these kinds of global problems will make them go away is unacceptable.
Image credit: roy.luck