Will the Classroom Climate Change? – Part 1

National Center for Science Survey

You have undoubtedly heard of the widely diverse opinions on whether or not our climate is changing and, if it is, if it’s because of the terrible things we humans are doing to our earth. I just read about a survey done by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) that questioned teachers about if and how they taught climate in their classrooms. Of the 3.9 million teachers that are in the Dun and Bradstreet database, the NCSE selected 5,000 to query. Of those 5,000, they had 1,500 responses from teachers in all fifty states, who taught science classes ranging from middle school through high school. So this survey represents approximately 3.85 percent of teachers nationwide.

Although it has become more frequently referred to lately as simply “climate change,” what the scientific community really means is what they formerly called it: global warming. I can’t go into all the results from the survey as the report is forty pages long, but I’ll cover a few of their findings.

The first that grabbed my attention—it truly astonished me—was that “Fewer than half of all teachers [responding] had any formal coursework — even one class lecture — on climate change. Of those who did not study climate change during college, only one in five has obtained continuing education on the topic.” So how, I wonder, (as you might) are they equipped to evaluate the material they are given to teach, and convey the information to the kids?

Climate Change – Not everyone agrees

We can look at the bright side. “Many students are receiving mixed messages. As many as 30% of teachers who teach about climate change are emphasizing that scientists agree that human activities are the primary causes of global warming while simultaneously emphasizing that “many scientists” see natural causes behind recent global warming.” (Emphasis added.) So the kids, at least some of them, are learning that there can be natural causes for global warming. The disturbing part of that finding is the NCSE interprets looking at two opinions on the subject as “receiving mixed messages.” That doesn’t sound like a very scientific attitude to me.

The study found that “Less than half of all science teachers are aware that more than 80% of climate scientists think that global warming is caused primarily by human activities.” It’s an interesting statement all by itself. The Daily Caller reported on a survey by George Mason University (GMU) of more than 4,000 American Meteorological Society (AMS) members found that a third of them don’t agree with the so-called global warming “consensus” that humans are the cause of most recent warming.

Dr. Roy Spencer is a Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and formerly a Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA. He is co-developer of the original satellite method for precise monitoring of global temperatures from Earth-orbiting satellites. He has provided congressional testimony several times on the subject of global warming and has authored several books. His blog post regarding the GMU survey reads:

Fully 33% either believe climate change is not occurring, is mostly natural, or is at most half-natural and half-manmade (I [Roy Spencer] tend toward that last category)…or simply think we “don’t know. For something that is supposed to be “settled science”, I find that rather remarkable.

As they have had no classes at all on climate change/global warming, I cannot fault teachers believing that global temperatures are on the rise. However, let’s give a cheer that “While few teachers doubt that average global temperatures are on the rise, many do not accept scientific
conclusions regarding human energy generation and consumption as the critical cause.” (Emphasis added.)

There is much more in this report that I want to tell you about. I said earlier that I couldn’t cover it all, and I won’t, but there are a few more items you should know about. I try to get to the rest of them in my next post. Let me know what your kids are being taught about global warming.