I salute Ken Poppe, sixth-grade teacher at Trail Ridge Middle School in Longmont, Colorado, for teaching both sides of the current global warming debate to his students, and then letting them break into three groups: one arguing for and one arguing against human-caused global warming, and a jury to listen to both camps.
Poppe doesn’t believe that humans are causing global warming, but his student aide, David Richards of Colorado State University, believes that human activities cause global climate change. Both presented their sides of the global warming debate to the students in the run-up to the debate. At the end, the 11 student jurors voted 7 to 4 that global warming is not caused by humans.
I like that both sides of the argument were presented to the children, but I dislike that they had a jury to vote on the question of human-caused global warming. Science isn’t decided by debate or by voting. Science is decided by proof, or the lack thereof.
Three paragraphs from the end of the story, a particular passage really jumped out at me:
Only one parent questioned Poppe’s decision to hold a global warming debate. That mother expected him to present Al Gore’s global warming movie An Inconvenient Truth as indisputable facts, Poppe said. After he explained his neutrality in the classroom, the mom allowed her child to participate in the debate, he said.
If you read carefully, you realize that the parent objected because she thought An Inconvenient Truth would be peddled as gospel truth, and was happy to hear that it wouldn’t be treated that way. But the journalist who wrote this story made the meaning a little obscure. Upon my first reading, I thought the parent was upset because the mother wanted Poppe to present the film as the gospel truth, but realizing that the classroom discussion would be balanced, she was happy to allow her child to participate.
I have made no bones about the low esteem I hold for An Inconvenient Truth, and it appears that I am not alone in this belief. Whether you like Al Gore or not, there are flaws in his proposal of human-caused global warming. BBC4 recently showed a documentary called “The Great Global Warming Swindle” that gives the history of the global climate change theory. The above link searches Google Video for the film. Or you can view this YouTube video as long as it remains on the site.