Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s Institute of Public Affairs promotes climate denialist lies to schoolchildren

what might it mean that Plimer’s views are rejected outright by 97-98% of climate scientists and major scientific organisations across the world? Might his extreme and nastily expressed views have something to do with vested interests – given that he is the interim chairman of one mining company and director of at least one other – in the context of a looming carbon tax?

Teaching critical thinking in this context would also look at the concept and role of peer review and relevant credentials when deciding on the worth of conflicting statements.

How the IPA feeds kids lies about climate change, Independent Australia, 12 June 12,   The Institute of Public Affairs, a lobby group funded by big business, miners and the tobacco industry, is sending schools misleading and inaccurate books about climate change. Frances Quinn from the UNE reports. Two recently published books suggest that the public – and school children in particular – are being fed lies about environmental issues such as climate change. The books – “How to Get Expelled from School: A guide to climate change for pupils, parents & punters” by Ian Plimer and “Little Green Lies: An expose of twelve environmental myths” by Jeff Bennett – clearly demonstrate how important it is to have a scientifically literate Australia.

The distorted and selectively reported science in these books highlights some of the challenges that Australian teachers face in teaching science, and how important it is that they are supported in this task.

The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE) has condemned Plimer’s book as misleading and inaccurate. However the free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) is apparently sending copies of Plimer’s misleading fringe book to Australian schools. The Executive Director of the IPA John Roskam is, incidentally, on the editorial board of the publishing house of these two books.

Plimer’s book tells school students that they are being “conned” and “fed propaganda” if their teacher “waffles” on about issues such as human-induced global warming, sea level rise and the IPCC. He deplores this as “environmental activism”. This is despite the overwhelming evidence for human induced climate change accepted by a vast range of climate scientists and scientific organisations.

Climate change in science classrooms

The NSW Year 7-10 science syllabus reflects the accepted scientific view: “students will learn about waste from resource use and identify excessive use of fossil fuels as a contributing factor to a greenhouse effect”. The new Australian Curriculum: Science includes similar content: “explaining the causes and effects of the greenhouse effect” and “investigating the effect of climate change on sea levels and biodiversity”.

Arguably worse than the disinformation in Plimer’s book is the disdain and disrespect for teachers that he advocates. After a few chapters of strenuous denial of human-induced climate change, Plimer lists 101 questions that students (and parents and punters) should ask teachers to catch them out at their propaganda spreading. Fair enough – questions are good. However this section includes helpful advice to students along the lines of: “This question will get you smacked around the head, turfed out of class or expelled …”. There is another gem relating to the question of whether the sun is responsible for the past 150 years of warming of the Earth: “if the answer from your teacher is no, then you should complain to the head teacher that your teacher is a buffoon”.

The insulting suggestion that teachers hit or expel students for asking questions is compounded by the disrespect to teachers that comments such as these (and there are plenty more) explicitly incite. Secondary science teachers have a hard enough job contending with the challenges that a class of 30 adolescents can generate without this.

However the questions that he asks show how demanding a secondary science teacher’s job is. …..

For more specific detail on the Mars question teachers might go to that incredibly useful standby, the Skeptical Science site. This points out several flaws with the “It’s the sun, like on Mars” claim…….

Critical thinking would explore the reliability of the claimant as well as the claims. For example, what might it mean that Plimer’s views are rejected outright by 97-98% of climate scientists and major scientific organisations across the world? Might his extreme and nastily expressed views have something to do with vested interests – given that he is the interim chairman of one mining company and director of at least one other – in the context of a looming carbon tax?

Teaching critical thinking in this context would also look at the concept and role of peer review and relevant credentials when deciding on the worth of conflicting statements……

Bennett’s 12 “Little Green Lies” (not to be confused with the 10 “Little Green Lies” published by Jonathan Adler 20 years ago – we are now two lies worse off) raises similar issues and more. In his chapter on climate change, Bennett cites discredited climate change deniers such as Christopher Monkton and Ian Plimer, and conferences organised by the extremist right wing Heartland Institute to shore up his contention that the science of climate change is not settled….. http://www.independentaustralia.net/2012/environment/how-the-ipa-feeds-kids-lies-about-climate-change/

 

June 18, 2012 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, spinbuster |

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