The Coming Classroom Climate Conflict

By Chris Mooney | February 16, 2011 8:31 am

My latest DeSmogBlog item is about the growing likelihood of climate science controversies and battles in schools. It starts like this:

I’ve just completed a trip out to the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado—a town that’s in many ways the chief hub for our country’s climate scientists, as well as for a variety of other researchers (especially on weather and renewable energy) and many science education specialists. My visit was focused on science communication, but another theme kept coming up: climate science education, and the conflicts arising therein.

A lot of people out here seem worried about growing resistance to climate science teaching in schools. It was a regular topic of conversation, and at the end of my public talk, one audience member asked whether there needs to be an equivalent of theNational Center for Science Education for the climate issue. (The National Center for Science Education is the leading organization defending the teaching of evolution in the U.S.). And no wonder: This state has already seen one of the most direct attacks on climate education yet—although it seems to have fizzled.

You can read the full post here.


Comments (5)

  1. Duncan Brown

    I vote for a parallel center on evolution. Darwin’s birthday seems to have become fraught with controversy. The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center is have a Darwin Day Road Trip in support of a national holiday:

  2. Gaythia

    The Mesa County School District 51 serves Grand Junction, CO. While there are orchards in the surrounding Colorado River irrigated Grand Valley (the peaches are excellent), the growing part of the economy these days is oil and gas exploration. This had a recent boom and bust cycle for oil shale. The orchardists might see the oil shale development as a water rights threat, but so are the urban developments of the Boulder/Denver front range which bring Colorado River water eastward, in pipes under the Rockies for their urban developments. Water demands also come from Arizona and California to the west.

    Oil and gas development is a pocketbook issue here, and many people have had tough personal experiences with times when that income stream was taken away.

    The fact that the so called “Balanced Education for Everyone” group has officially disbanded, and is thus apparently not the start of a movement of such groups around the country, as seemed to have been hoped, is thus a good thing. I think that we need to continue to be not only watchful but proactive. And I believe that care needs to be taken to present climate change in a manner that does not get rejected as just another crazy idea from those radical lefty elitists in Boulder. Issues regarding the science of climate change need to be framed in ways that are respectful of and matter to the people on Colorado’s western slope.

    I believe that water resource availability is a climate change issue that will be seen as a vitally important matter to diverse groups of people.

  3. Eric the Leaf

    From Grand Junction, eh? Cool looking. Grand Mesa, the Monument, Book Cliffs. My sister is a physician there, her kids went to school there, and one of my brothers is partner in a winery in Pallisades–maybe you know it–Plum Creek Cellars (overpriced some say, but what the hell).

    Are you sure that the “oil shales” are in a boom/bust cycle? I’m not aware of a commercially viable oil shale operation. But shale gas is a different story. Over Christmas I drove my usual route on I-70 from Grand Junction, through Glenwood Springs, and on to Denver and saw all the frac’ing rigs in Garfield County. That’s natural gas.

    Colorado. Great state. Climbed in almost every range. And you’re right, the peaches on the western slope are awesome!

  4. Gaythia

    @3, I actually am on the east side, the front range. (That’s how I made it to Chris’ recent talk in Boulder). But we can buy the wine over here, it’s good. All wine is overpriced here.

    You are right, oil shale is still busted, (but holding water rights just in case). And, oil shale leasing policies on federal land have been under litigation (by environmental groups) and a settlement was just reached. See: So it has an aura of being “just around the corner” even if there is no real feasible technology exists. I should have qualified my statement a bit, but comments aren’t supposed to be book length. There have been multiple energy resource extraction cycles in this region, uranium, coal, oil shale, oil, natural gas. Makes some peoples economic lives tenuous, and makes them defensive, I believe.

    Fracking is a problem. Congresswoman Diana DeGette (Denver) has just launched an investigation of the use of diesel fuel in fracking solutions:


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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