The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is teaming up with Scholastic (which makes bajillions off textbooks and Harry Potter) to produce an “energy” curriculum–one that neglects environmental consequences and climate change, at least in the materials presented so far (PDF).
Scholastic also offers the “United States of Energy,” another lesson plan/educational program “brought to you” in part by the American Coal Foundation.
Meanwhile, in state after state, anti-evolutionists are arguing not only that we should “teach the controversy” around evolution, but that the same goes for other controversial topics as well–and then global warming inevitably gets roped in. And the strategy has been working.
In the most infamous case, legislators in South Dakota called for “balanced teaching” about global warming in their state. In one version, their bill justified this assault by noting, “there are a variety of climatological, meteorological, astrological, thermological, cosmological, and ecological dynamics that can effect world weather phenomena [and] the significance and interrelativity of these factors is largely speculative…”
Yeah. They did write that.
Is it time for the creation of an organization, like the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), that will be capable of countering these many and varied attempts to torque what children learn about climate and energy? Doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me. Here’s Eugenie Scott, of NCSE, discussing the idea:
Well, I’m back. Over the past month, the devastating BP spill that began April 20th has become catastrophic in scale. And that’s an understatement.
When I checked on my inbox early May, it was overflowing with questions from our readers about oil’s impact on the marine realm, its potential to spread, and the long-term possibilities across sectors. Foremost, I want to thank Wallace J. Nichols and Philip Hoffman for posting in my absence when I asked them to provide details. Chris has also done a good job covering the reasons we should all be concerned about the 2010 hurricane forecast.
In short, the BP oil spill is as bad as it gets. It’s an unprecedented social, environmental, and economic disaster in the US. And it’s not over. The public seems to have expected that scientists and engineers would have a quick fix immediately–not surprising given that on television, problems take less than an hour to solve (with commercials). Now any fix will do, but no one’s sure what we’re dealing with 5000 feet below sea level. I haven’t kept up with all of the coverage while overseas, though I’m sure much of what I’d say about the tragedy itself would be repetitious. Instead, I will add this…
No matter what took place and why it happened, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico belongs to all of us. Now it is our collective responsibility to make sure we establish the policies that will prevent it from happening ever again It’s related to oceans, economics, security, and climate change. But most of all, this is all about energy. And the truth is, regardless of the renewable options that are coming down the pipeline, we’re not there yet. Earth will continue to be a primarily fossil-fuel based planet for decades to come. So if we want better related institutions, it’s our choice to enact them.
Over the next three days, I’ll be on the road driving from NY to Austin, Texas. Once I arrive, I’ll share the details of my new job working on energy solutions for the 21st century.
Here’s the part of last night’s speech that is directed at us nerds:
Next, we need to encourage American innovation. Last year, we made the largest investment in basic research funding in history – an investment that could lead to the world’s cheapest solar cells or treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched. And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy. You can see the results of last year’s investments in clean energy — in the North Carolina company that will create 1,200 jobs nationwide helping to make advanced batteries; or in the California business that will put a thousand people to work making solar panels.
The new investments in science were wonderful–but will they be able to continue with the president’s proposed three year “freeze” on spending?
But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. And, yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.
I know greens are ticked about this part of the speech. The conjunction of nuclear, drilling, and clean coal made them understandably apoplectic. But it seems to me that now that Democrats have lost their supermajority in the Senate, it may be necessary to give some ground on these areas if we want a real energy plan to go through. And it sounds like Obama is willing to do that.
I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year. And this year I’m eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate.
I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy. I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But here’s the thing – even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy-efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future – because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation.
Go Greg Craven–Obama made your argument!
I’m glad the president isn’t backing down on the Senate bill. I am not in a position to handicap the votes, but, let’s face it: George W. Bush would have gotten the bill through without a supermajority in the Senate. He did it again and again. If Democrats play tougher, and smarter, they can still put us on a path towards solving the climate problem.
Last week I participated in a three-day course on energy taught by Michael Webber at UTAustin. Very shortly, I’ll have more to say on the subject, but in the meantime, it’s a good opportunity to highlight an interesting new website from the National Academies called What You Need to Know About Energy. It’s a means to help visitors understand the ways we use energy, where it comes from, and how energy efficiency and alternative sources can figure into our energy future. The more we know, the better equipped we’ll be to engage in the ongoing debate about energy policy. Here are the details:
The site provides balanced and reliable information about our energy sources, uses, and options for the future. Take a quiz to see what you already know about energy. Explore “Our Energy System” for a quick and clear overview of the energy sources we depend on in the United States and how they are used, including what each source contributes to carbon dioxide emissions. Learn compelling facts about oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear energy, and renewable sources, such as solar and wind, including the pros and cons of each source. Compare a few cars and household appliances in “Understanding Efficiency” to see which use energy more effectively. Then rely on your new understanding of the energy situation as you make decisions about energy in your daily life, or participate in discussions about our nation’s energy options for the future.
As regular Intersection readers know, I’ve long been interested in energy. Today I’m flying to Texas to join Michael Webber’s three day energy technology and policy course at UTAustin. Here is the description:
Dr. Michael Webber, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Associate Director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas at Austin, will share his insights and candid views about the best and worst of US energy practice. His fast-paced and information-packed lectures will include real-world examples, entertaining anecdotes, engineering fundamentals, historical perspectives, and an outlook for the future of energy. This crash course is perfect for people who want an energy credential or a graduate class in energy, but only have a few days to spare.
With lectures covering transportation, biofuels, climate, security, and food, I can’t wait. So expect some energy related posts this week as I have time to blog.