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California Lawmaker Seeks Climate Change as part of Public Education 313

Posted by Zonk
from the getting-hot-in-the-senate dept.
Andrew Feinberg writes "A California State Senator is seeking to mandate climate change as part of the standard science curriculum. Other members of the legislative body seek to teach an opposing view. 'Simitian noted that his bill wouldn't dictate what to teach or in what grades, but rather would require the state Board of Education and state Department of Education to decide both. Although global warming is mentioned in high school classes about weather, it is currently not required to be covered in all textbooks, said the head of the California Science Teachers Association ... teachers would have plenty to discuss: rising levels of carbon dioxide, how temperatures are measured globally, and what is known and not known about global warming.'"
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California Lawmaker Seeks Climate Change as part of Public Education

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  • by Jeramy (123761) on Saturday February 16, 2008 @03:50PM (#22447146) Homepage
    Now politicians and school boards everywhere might be open to the idea that they should be dictating what is taught in science class (whether good intentioned or bad).

    That's all teachers need is one more jerk telling them what to do.
    • by NIckGorton (974753) on Saturday February 16, 2008 @03:58PM (#22447218)
      Um, that's called establishing a curriculum and its no different than mandating other specific educational goals. In public schools there should be a basic standard. That standard includes at a minimum what concepts must be covered in a subject.

      The Creationsts probably wish that mandated curriculum didn't exist in the first place since intimidating individual teachers in small towns is easier than school boards (Kansas notwithstanding.) However as they do exist, the creationists will use them to the best of their abilities to cripple science education and push their religious agenda.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rasputin465 (1032646)

        Um, that's called establishing a curriculum and its no different than mandating other specific educational goals. In public schools there should be a basic standard. That standard includes at a minimum what concepts must be covered in a subject.

        It's not an issue of establishing a curriculum. The issue is, WHO establishes that curriculum? I agree, a standard base of subjects and techniques makes sense, but I think it also makes sense for a board of science teachers to establish the science curriculum, NOT

      • by bendodge (998616)
        Do you, sir, support equal talk show airtime?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by timmarhy (659436)
        there is no educational benefit to it though.

        it's teaching a point of view, not an actual science, history or skill. as much as creationists and global warming nuts would like to think, their views aren't proven to the point i'd be comfortable having them taught as fact in a class room.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Stonent1 (594886)
      I wonder if they are going to discuss how Mars' ice caps are melting too?

      Mars Melt Hints at Solar, Not Human, Cause for Warming, Scientist Says [nationalgeographic.com]
    • by catchblue22 (1004569) on Saturday February 16, 2008 @04:45PM (#22447606) Homepage

      Firstly, the level of many of the posts here, the reflexive and snide referral to the principles of atmospheric science as religion indicate to me that an increasingly large group in society are hostile to science. Here is a New York Times article [nytimes.com] that argues just that, that there is a rising tide of anti-intellectualism building in America today.

      As for the accusations of indoctrination, I believe that climate science should be taught in schools. However, it should be taught at a far more advanced level than they typical caricatures that appear in popular culture. Students should first be taught about the physics of electromagnetic radiation, about absorption, reflection, and emission. They should be given an understanding of how some wavelengths transparently pass through some materials, while others wavelengths are absorbed by the same materials. In my experience, students today typically have a terrible understanding of these concepts.

      They should also be taught some basic atmospheric science. For example, they should know why the air becomes cooler as altitude increases (up to the thermosphere at least) because the reduced pressure causes the air molecules to move more slowly. This means that they should be familiar with gas laws, and with the concept of adiabiabatically raising a parcel of air. They should be taught about the latent heat in water vapor and also about relative humidity and the capacity of air to hold water vapor. They should understand that raising a parcel of air causes it to cool, thus reducing the amount of water vapor it can hold. When the water vapor condenses to form clouds, heat is released, causing the parcel of air to rise even faster...this is the main mechanism of storms.

      Finally, they should be taught the mechanisms of the greenhouse effect. They should especially be taught that the typical pop culture caricature of the greenhouse effect is wrong. The greenhouse effect is typically portrayed as a sheet of gas reflecting infrared radiation back to Earth. This is not the way it works. Instead, increased carbon dioxide, especially at high altitudes (where it is dry) makes it more difficult for infrared radiation to escape to space. The high altitude carbon dioxide causes the Earth's infrared radiation to be emitted to space at a higher altitude. However, since the air is cooler at higher altitude, the infrared radiation is emitted to space less effectively, thus causing an increase in temperature of the entire system. Here is a nice summary [realclimate.org].

      If the material is taught in a logical scientific way, then I believe that it cannot be called indoctrination. If the students are familiar with the detailed science underlying the field of climate science, then they will be more able to judge between authentic and fallacious arguments. Mandating that this material be taught is really not that different than mandating that chemistry be taught.

      • the reflexive and snide referral to the principles of atmospheric science as religion indicate to me that an increasingly large group in society are hostile to science.

        They're not hostile to science. It's Slashdot, it's all about teh Science. What the posts are hostile towards is *religion*, which is what the Global Warming Cult has become. It's got everything a good old school religion could want: High Priesthood whom one must dare not defy; a clear blue print designed to funnel money away from the weal
        • by nick.ian.k (987094) on Saturday February 16, 2008 @07:20PM (#22448652)

          a complete and holistic set of rules which stretch across diet, fashion, pets, transportation, and commerce; and now more and more, really scary and dangerous zealot foot-soldiers and crusaders.

          C'mon yourself. That last bit is a hyperbolic reduction meant to provoke a negative response and justify the whole "religious fanatic" analogy. I'll take it otherwise the day somebody sets off a bomb, tortures someone, or mandates genital mutilation in the name of curbing human-exacerbated global warming.

          • by RobertinXinyang (1001181) on Saturday February 16, 2008 @09:07PM (#22449322)
            "C'mon yourself. That last bit is a hyperbolic reduction meant to provoke a negative response and justify the whole "religious fanatic" analogy. I'll take it otherwise the day somebody sets off a bomb"

            This has already happened. Remember the uni-bomber? In all, the guys writings were right in there with main stream environmentalism. After reading up on that, take a moment to observe that many of the terrorist groups, and activities, in the US are related to environmentalist groups.

            I am not saying that they are wrong; but, to deny that they exist is just plain dishonest.
      • Thanks for the link, finally an explanation that's consistent and logical with the physics I was taught in college, but you must remember that the bill's target audience is public school students and I fear most will never grasp the supporting concepts.
      • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday February 16, 2008 @07:03PM (#22448532) Homepage

        If the material is taught in a logical scientific way, then I believe that it cannot be called indoctrination.

        Sure it can. You can "indoctrinate" people in a "logical scientific way" because what you're proposing is to stuff students with a enormous body of information that would take a PhD in one of the relevant fields to understand. Unless you happen to be actively researching the field, either from avocation or professionally, it will be impossible for anyone to be able to gather enough expertise to really understand the data and it's implications.

        And there's the rub. Climate Change / Global anything is a hugely complex issue with lots of side arguments, issues and complexities. And that's just the technical aspect of it all. Your lecture series didn't even start with the social and political ramifications of the confluence of global climate change and the rapidly expanding human population on said globe.

        Your curriculum is great, more suited to a high functioning college student than random high schooler. But it still doesn't really help and it's not remotely practical for a high school education. If high school could just teach students to understand the scientific method we would be a lot further along in having a populace with some understanding of how we can possibly deal with many of our upcoming issues.

    • I think Mark Twain said "When God created Idiots he was only practicing for School Boards"; people have always told teachers what to teach and most of what they are told is stupid stuff. I see little difference between teaching Intelligent Design as science or teaching Anthropogenic Global Warming as science. Show me a controlled experiment, then it'll be science.
  • by corsec67 (627446) on Saturday February 16, 2008 @03:52PM (#22447174) Homepage Journal
    Too bad they will probably not bother to get to the point where we don't know specifically what is causing the climate change.

    Or, in general:
    Correlation != Causation.
    • by joe 155 (937621)
      I agree with your point that correlation and causation are not the same thing, and maybe even that this should be taught in schools (I dont know what age they are thinking of here but being from the uk I'm still thinking below 16), but there is a worry for me of teaching this idea just in relation to this specific topic because it will make people think that the amount of knowledge we have here is less than it is. It is true that if you follow the idea of strict separation of correlation and causation then
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by corsec67 (627446)
        Except that in the case of falling 300 feet causing death is a theory that has been tested. We know what kinds of forces will kill a human, so any impact that will create those forces will be lethal.
        Causation can be shown by a repeatable, verifiable experiment.
        Showing causation with a theory is hard, but if the theory is sufficiently descriptive of the situation, might be enough.

        The environment and the atmosphere is incredibly complex, and we aren't even close to understanding what is going on.
        For example,
        • by joe 155 (937621)
          "Except that in the case of falling 300 feet causing death is a theory that has been tested. We know what kinds of forces will kill a human, so any impact that will create those forces will be lethal."

          I would disagree here. Lets say that I have a theory which argues that actually people sometimes die just before they hit the ground because their brain switches off or shuts down or whatever. When they actually hit the ground the impacts etc. just seem to have killed them because of the damage they have do
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CorSci81 (1007499)
      I think it's a pretty safe bet that doubling the concentration of a known greenhouse gas is going to do something. It's what that something is that's still up for debate.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pikine (771084)

      You're wrong. We know enough about the climate model to prove causation, and correlation just happens to support it. Be careful not to go into the extreme believing that correlation disproves causation, or you will not see this fairly.

    • by imipak (254310)
      There is this discipline called "detection and attribution [wikipedia.org]", whereby the question is asked "to what factors can we attribute the detected warming in global temperature?", and the unequivocal answer is "athropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases, in particular CO2 and methane".

      The matter is well understood, and the case is closed.

      Now there areperfectly genuine areas of doubt and uncertainty, where legitimate debate and research can be conducted, in the field of climatology and AGW. This isn't one of them.

    • by hey! (33014)
      Yes, but the theory is incredibly scientifically robust.

      I'm married to an Earth scientist, and I've been following the scientific arguments in the journals she reads since around 1980. If you look at Global Warming as an amorphous blob, you can make abstract, hand waving arguments about causality vs. correlation. If you've been following the nuts and bolts of the scientific fight, it was a long, hard fight for anthropogenic climate change to become scientific consensus, and really quite impressive object
  • Bad Idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Corbets (169101) on Saturday February 16, 2008 @03:53PM (#22447176) Homepage
    Whether you agree with the Bushies or the Greens, this seems like a bad idea to me. Do we really want politicians mandating which subjects our children are taught? Shouldn't that be left to someone... I dunno... competent?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jez9999 (618189)
      It seems to be a rather peculiarly US thing not to want a national curriculum for teaching. In the UK, we've had one for ages, and it is generally set by competent people (the politicians, ya know, consult) and seems to work quite well. Did until recently, anyway, when they started mandating silly things like '5 hours of culture per week'...
    • by Kohath (38547)
      No. There's no superhuman person who never gets things wrong. Expertise is not incorruptible. Competence is not infallibility.

      This is why we should not have government schools -- because we no longer have a common set of beliefs and every set of teachings offends a substantial minority of people.

      It should be left up to the parents. They should choose their children's school. No more one-size-fits-all government truth/propaganda education. We should be past that now.
    • Whether you agree with the Bushies or the Greens, this seems like a bad idea to me. Do we really want politicians mandating which subjects our children are taught? Shouldn't that be left to someone... I dunno... competent?

      Yes, great idea. Consult with experts. We do that in many areas of the government. For example the government mandates that the VA system exist and that it meet certain minimum standards. However its not like congressmen are mandating that no patient can die at a VA hospital or UTIs have to be treated with Cipro as a first line agent. Because they consult with experts and leave that to the experts... like say, I dunno....

      * The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
      * The US Environmental Protec

  • by Timesprout (579035) on Saturday February 16, 2008 @03:57PM (#22447210)
    Is all the non believers who have been getting sent to hell recently. With the level of unbelievers and sinners so high hell is now considerably hotter and this is having a knock on effect on the environment. Since god created hell global warming can be laid at his door.
    • It would be more along the lines of the Earth's becoming more secular and wicked, so the whole things being sent to Hell. As the Earth approaches Hell, of course, it's going to get hotter.
  • Erm... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jez9999 (618189) on Saturday February 16, 2008 @03:58PM (#22447212) Homepage Journal
    A California State Senator is seeking to mandate climate change as part of the standard science curriculum. Other members of the legislative body seek to teach an opposing view. ... what opposing view?
  • by Yusaku Godai (546058) <hyugaNO@SPAMguardian-hyuga.net> on Saturday February 16, 2008 @04:02PM (#22447260) Homepage
    Oh....nevermind... :/
    Seriously though, I never understood why, on slashdot or all places, there are so many of them. Heck, even if you thought global climate change were a complete scam, wouldn't you at least be in favor of technological advancement? Who wouldn't want to move beyond 19th century technology like internal combustion engines and coal-fired power plants?

    I do, however, agree that politicans shouldn't be in the business of setting education curriculum--that's definitely a slippery slope.
    • wouldn't you at least be in favor of technological advancement?

      Yes I would be in favor of technological advancement, if it comes at a decent price. Seriously, we don't have anything to replace oil with and most people who believe that all this is caused by us driving cars and such, if its between me driving my car with gas at a reasonable price or me spending an extra $70K on a new car to run on *insert "clean" fuel here* to help make the ocean not rise an extra inch because it is going to flood New York City if I drive a gas-powered car. Honestly, it would make i

      • by wwahammy (765566) on Saturday February 16, 2008 @04:31PM (#22447508)
        The world is not going to end. Over time though certain parts of the world will become less habitable due to climate change (some places will become more habitable but that's not much comfort for the people whose children die due to an increase in tropical disease). I don't know why you think a 3 degree increase (which is on the lower end of predictions, most seem to be closer to 5 degree) is insignificant. That's actually a fairly substantial increase, especially when the ecosystem doesn't have thousands of year to compensate for the increase.
        • Over time though certain parts of the world will become less habitable due to climate change (some places will become more habitable but that's not much comfort for the people whose children die due to an increase in tropical disease).

          Over time though, many things happened that made things less habitable, the Sahara turned from a grassland to a desert and that was before we had cars. If someone can prove, without a doubt that by people driving cars and such, we are causing a great climate change that wouldn't be beneficial I might believe you, but I for one am not willing to pay money for something we aren't even sure we are causing it.

          • by Xolotl (675282)

            Do you have some kind of insurance taken out? Medical? Home? Accident? Car? Life? Or aren't you willing to pay money for something you aren't even sure will happen? No? You do have insurance? Well, fancy that.

            Then think of spending a little more on improving fuel efficiency and finding alternative energy sources as insurance. Maybe climate change isn't being caused by us, in which case all you lose is a little money and you gain in new industries and technologies. Hell, you gain in less smog in your citie

    • Heck, even if you thought global climate change were a complete scam

      I don't think that people think the facts are a scam, so much as the hypothesis.
      Fact: global temperature is rising.
      Hypothesis: this change is man made.

      Personally, I think that the change is, at least in part, but not necessarily entirely, man made. However, judging by how crazy some GW advocates act (Eek! We're all gonna die unless you buy those swirly light bulbs!), it's not hard to imagine how one might dismiss the entire thing as a scam. Which is unfortunate because, climate change aside, energy

    • by bendodge (998616)
      I definitely want technology to move forward, but not on my tax money. I haven't got a problem with private ventures investing in whatever research they want, but when the government steps in/is dragged in, there is a BIG problem.
    • by lattyware (934246)
      Because on Slashdot, more people actually read up and check the facts, rather than taking what they are told, and by the media, no less, as the truth on an issue. Global warming is happening. We are running out of fossil fuels. We should be switching to alternate power sources. Is human activity the cause of Global Warming? No. The fact of the matter is that as temperature increases, CO2 increases - not the other way around. The biggest store of CO2 is in the oceans, dissolved in the water. When the climate
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)
      The biggest issue I have is the level of certainty that many people place on the long term consequences. There basically isn't any certainty, but as far as Al Gore is concerned, real estate near any ocean is a sell. I still try to adopt a conservationist outlook on things, and avoid doing things that simply waste energy.

      I also have a problem with all the popular attention directed at the difference between a Hummer and Prius when there are uncontrollable underground coal fires in China producing just as muc
    • by jcnnghm (538570) on Saturday February 16, 2008 @08:20PM (#22449024)
      The problem I have is that the people that belong to the climate change cult refuse to explore the possibility that, some, all, or even most of the present climate change could be caused by factors other than C02 emissions. Increased solar activity, methane production from livestock, and cyclical long-term climate change may all have something to do with the current climate change, but the majority of environmentalists refuse to discuss anything but CO2 emissions. In addition, I find it very worrisome that Al Gore, arguably one of the most notable individuals in the global warming movement, is so heavily involved in carbon trading. There really isn't much doubt that climate change is occurring, the question is why.
  • by troll -1 (956834) on Saturday February 16, 2008 @04:04PM (#22447280)
    is this education or indoctrination?

    Why not let scientists decide what should be taught in science?

    Now there's a radical idea!
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by 4D6963 (933028)

      Why not let science teachers decide what should be taught in science?

      Fixed it for you. You're welcome.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CorSci81 (1007499)
      The problem is most public school science teachers aren't scientists. You don't get those teaching you science until you go to a university, and they rarely get input into how science is actually taught before then. Science/math preparation for high school students going into those fields is lamentable in most of the US.
    • by zappepcs (820751)
      Yes, far too radical for one reason... it takes politics and money out of the equation basically.

      The idea that students should be given a well rounded education has long ago been abandoned in the US. Special interest groups of EVERY kind have wheedled their way into the education system for various reasons, none of which are more than superficially sane.

      The idea that schooling should prepare you for life died when an 8th grade education stopped being something to be proud of.

      Now, you need a college degree a
  • Sounds political (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tyler_larson (558763) on Saturday February 16, 2008 @04:07PM (#22447304) Homepage

    Schools aren't required to teach about the dangers of ozone depletion, nuclear fallout, or mercury poisoning -- what exactly is it that elevates this particular environmental catastrophe to the point of being required curriculum in primary education?

    Something doesn't seem right about it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I completely agree. I'm not certain what the norm is with regards to Science education. But it doesn't seem to bode well to politicize the choice of what gets taught.

      To me it would seem far more important to mandate a course or two throughout the K-12 curriculum on Critical Thinking.

      I'm rather worried about too much spoon-feeding of children in education. I'm not talking about presenting the traditional opposing sides of a controversial issue (eg. Creationism vs. Evolution) and letting the children make
    • what exactly is it that elevates this particular environmental catastrophe to the point of being required curriculum in primary education?

      Because this way all the students will think they have "facts" to go vote for tax increases and more government standards to make gas even more expensive and cars too! Really California has gone far enough to make sure our country is protected from any "threat" that we can get from being a productive country and eating foods that may not be the healthiest and guess what! We need warning labels now to tell us that its not good to eat lead because it may cause birth defects! Honestly, if California used

    • Schools are required to teach a lot of specific things. For example in CA, here are the (very detailed) state mandated standards for primary science education: http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/scmain.asp [ca.gov]

      Schools aren't required to teach about the dangers of ozone depletion, nuclear fallout, or mercury poisoning -- what exactly is it that elevates this particular environmental catastrophe to the point of being required curriculum in primary education?

      We mandate you have to teach kids to read in English, but not that they are fluent in Latin. You can't teach fourth graders everything, but you can make sure you hit the high points - a threat to humanity of this magnitude is a high point. In addition, like evolution in biology you can't really teach Earth

  • That we have a pretty decent commentary on this [capitolvalley.net] over at Capitol Valley, so please feel free to discuss it there, too. I'm a little annoyed at the liberties the editors take with submissions these days. I mean, I've been around since '98-99 (see the 4 digit UID, dude?) and there used to be a bit more respect for the submitters instead of just trying to keep traffic on the site.

    Hey Zonk, could you at least add my URL to my name on the main post, dude? Come on.
  • Education (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wall0159 (881759) on Saturday February 16, 2008 @04:13PM (#22447364)
    Well, climate change is an important contemporary issue in science, no matter what your opinion. I think injecting a bit more science into the whole thing would only be a good idea. Then again, judging from some of the comments regarding climate change, it seems to me that science education in general needs to be addressed.

    The thing that amazes me about this whole thing is that (otherwise intelligent) people seem to have been suckered by marketing. For example, companies that advertise about C02 being a harmless gas are simultaneously investing in arctic oil exploration (on the assumption that the arctic ice is melting). Maybe the biggest thing that needs to be taught in science is objective reasoning - something that seems fairly thin on the ground..

    Here's something I often read on /. written though it were gospel:
    "correlation != causation" - true, but I'd challenge anyone to name a single scientific "law" we _know_ to be caused, and don't "merely" observe correlation.

    The other thing that amazes me are the number of people who believe really weird things about climate change research. For example, I've read comments alleging that climate scientists "tweak" their models to fit known weather patterns, but never verify those models on other data. This is such a patently ridiculous allegation that in any other field it would be laughed off the stage, but for some reason there is a group of people who are desperate to dis-believe in climate change no matter what the evidence.
    • by CorSci81 (1007499)

      The other thing that amazes me are the number of people who believe really weird things about climate change research. For example, I've read comments alleging that climate scientists "tweak" their models to fit known weather patterns, but never verify those models on other data. This is such a patently ridiculous allegation that in any other field it would be laughed off the stage, but for some reason there is a group of people who are desperate to dis-believe in climate change no matter what the evidence.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by zippthorne (748122)
        Heh, Computational Fluid Dynamics is a complicated and diverse field. ALL CFD codes are characterized by the simplifying assumptions they make in order to actually have results in a time period where the results could potentially be useful. Further, the models aren't so much good as actual predictors, but as filters for more general theories: If the theory doesn't work in the model that uses its assumptions, then the it and/or the assumptions are wrong, or there are hidden assumptions which have not been
    • Glad to see you're getting modded back up. I have no idea why you were marked Troll to start.

      However, your comment regarding the Correlation vs. Causation thing is a bit strange. You've taken a rather simple principle and thrust it into the realm of philosophy.

      This comment is just a reminder that the discovery of a correlation is not the end of research but more akin to the beginning. A correlation is interesting. It is a necessary but non-sufficient component to a dependency or causation.

      If A->B and
      • by wall0159 (881759)
        "Your point that we never really know if all concluded Causation is just an illusion is a bit trite and easily overruled by Occam's Razor."

        I basically agree with your comment, thanks ;-)

        However, I guess what I was trying to say was more along the lines that there is a truth that we can never know - we only get closer and closer asymptotically. It's very easy to forget this fact, and delude ourselves that what we know now is the be-all-and-end-all.

        But yes, the "are we a brain in a box" question has been pret
    • by Wildclaw (15718)

      Then again, judging from some of the comments regarding climate change, it seems to me that science education in general needs to be addressed.

      Agreed. Listening to either side of the issue is very much like listening to a combination of a politican and a priest. That there is sides in the first place is depressing enough. This is supposed to be science, not a popularity contest. The only falsifiability that exists seems to be "wait and see" which is somewhat useless.

      Here's something I often read on /. written though it were gospel:
      "correlation != causation" - true, but I'd challenge anyone to name a single scientific "law" we _know_ to be caused, and don't "merely" observe correlation.

      The interesting thing is that the correlation between CO2 and temperature is far less certain than most people seem to think. CO2 follows temperature, not the other side around. And

  • I think this is a critical issue, but I'd rather not turn it into a situation where people are fighting over whether they get to teach the answer. Rather, I'd make it a mandate to produce students who are capable of intelligently discussing the questions.

    Here's what I'd teach them:

    • Enough chemistry to understand what a compound is, and how atoms rearrange in order to make different molecules, and how energy is required and released in the process. One could teach this from a fairly young age, even without a full chemistry course. Just so they're conversant in the concepts and can know they want to learn more.

    • Enough math to know what exponents are and what the difference is between a straight line and non-linear curve is. Even if they blur the huge difference between squares and exponentials, the notion that one can't simply rely on knowing that if it took x years to do something, it will take x more years to do twice that, it would be good.

      Also, again in the math front, enough math to understand simple optimization issues--nothing fancy. The ability to optimize the area of a rectangle is almost enough. They must be able to do simple things like know when it's good for a few people to do big things and when it's better for a lot of people to do little things and when neither of these will work and everyone has to do something big in order for anything to matter.

      Enough math to be able to comprehend the sheer quantity of waste and pollution in the world.

    • Enough statistics and probabilities to be able to understand why something can happen one year, not happen another, and then happen again ... and yet still be a trend. That is, they must understand the difference between a tendancy toward something and a promise that something will occur.

    • Enough logic to understand what it takes to prove and disprove existential and universal quantifications.

    • Enough philosophy and morality to understand and discuss risk analysis and the general good.

    • Enough politics to understand how it's BOTH the case that an obviously good idea won't necessarily be adopted by the free market, and something that is forced by government won't necessarily fix a problem.

    • Enough economics to know how to calculate which investments are going to pay off and which are just boondoggles lining someone's pockets in the short term at the expense of the long-term good.

    • Enough history to revive the notion of sacrifice for the greater good and get people out of the "it's all about me" mode.

    • Enough biology to understand what an ecosystem is and how one thing affects another. There was a very good episode of the Wild Thornberrys where the ecosystem got upset by a small change and there was a big disaster. Required viewing of that would almost suffice in my eyes. Just enough to be able to understand the significance of the reefs going away or some plankton going away or polar bears going away in some sort of operational terms that didn't make it seems "distant and unrelated".

    • Enough common sense to understand that not all things labeled bio-degradable, green, or earth-friendly are actually saving people money. We don't have to teach which ones are, just that the question has to be asked and that the answers might be deliberately obscured.

    • And, just maybe, enough religion to understand that Noah didn't survive the Flood by sitting back and assuming it was God's will or that God would just take care of him.

      And enough to know that the true meaning of Faith is that you have enough confidence in what you believe that you are not threatened by truth and science.

      Bravo to the United Church of Christ for its recent "not mutually exclusive" [ucc.org] stance on science and technology. (I'm not a member of that church, by the way. I just saw notice of this and thought it was cool.)

    • Rather, I'd make it a mandate to produce students who are capable of intelligently discussing the questions.

      Oh, if we mandate it, that'll solve all the problems.
      I've been reading a lot of "they should" and "I would" posts in this thread...

      Your solution advocates a

      ( ) technical (*) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

      approach to solving an education problem. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state or country to country before a bad federal or international law was p

      • I'd make it a mandate to produce students who are ...

        Your solution advocates a
        ( ) technical (*) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante
        approach to solving an education problem.

        No, actually. You're picking a fight where none is offered.

        All I did was try to critique a proposal in the context of its own form by addressing the specific issue I cared about, which was that if you're going to tell people what to teach, this is not what to teach.

        Mandate doesn't always mean "legally enforced"

  • A rather silly law (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Btarlinian (922732)

    Like many people on Slashdot it seems, I think this law is rather pointless, but not necessarily for the same reasons. If you RTFA, anthropogenic global warming skeptics, then you would know that the bill does not mandate that any specifics of climate change be taught, i.e., no one is being told to teach that CO2 emissions are causing global warming. Rather it simply requires that climate change be taught as part of the California science curriculum. It's up to the state education board to determine specifi

  • The problem with this is the most instructive bits of the topic would never really be covered in a course. All wrapped in the climate change topic are examples that:

    * politicians will sensationalize for votes
    * scientists will overstate for grants
    * media will embellish for attention
    * countries will argue for/against for power

    and, really, the science of the matter - ie., the FACTS ... the stuff most people really don't want to hear about - only really served to be a platform on which to stand to "look out fo
  • by HoneyBeeSpace (724189) on Saturday February 16, 2008 @04:34PM (#22447522) Homepage
    The EdGCM [columbia.edu] project has wrapped a NASA global climate model (GCM) in a GUI (OS X and Win). You can add CO2 or turn the sun down by a few percent all with a checkbox and a slider. Supercomputers and advanced FORTRAN programmers are no longer necessary to run your own GCM.

    Targeted to high school and undergraduate levels. Includes lesson plans, sample homework assignments, and documentation about how it meets the education standards.

    Disclaimer: I'm the project developer.
  • Climate change is a documented fact. Within recorded human history we have gone through two 1500-year warming / cooling cycles. There's evidence on every continent of this. But human-caused global warming is bullshit. Basically, we're being asked to believe that the inevitable warming is *more* warm *now* than it *should* be. We have zero evidence of that. Nobody can say with any precision how quickly the earth warms when it warms. It was warmer during the Roman Warming than it is now. Fig trees gre
    • by CorSci81 (1007499)

      It was warmer during the Roman Warming than it is now. Fig trees grew in northern Italy where they don't grow now.

      You're conflating regional trends with global mean. In history various parts of the world have been warmer or colder than they are now, this isn't disputed. But in general for everyplace that got warmer, somewhere else got colder. The trend now is that global mean temperature is going up well beyond where it has been in several thousand years.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Russ Nelson (33911)
        Mmmmmm, no, regional trends are bullshit. During the Midieval Warming, it was warming everywhere. During the Little Ice Age, it was cooling everywhere. These cycles are 1500 years long (plus or minus 500 years), so you're only comparing this warming against the past one (1) warming.

        It's funny how some people only feel alive during a crisis, so they feel the need to invent a crisis when none such exists.
  • discussing global warming, one of the biggest topics these days, in a classroom is a good thing. But I think we can all agree that it should focus on the science of global warming, and leave out the politics and the unscientific ideas that are being attached to global warming.
  • The were wiped out c. 1350AD by global cooling, about the same time that the Thames River froze for the first time in recorded memory. So, if the current climatological trends allow the planet to return to 13th century conditions, what's the problem?
  • by j_w_d (114171) on Saturday February 16, 2008 @06:20PM (#22448278)
    I can foresee a real problem with this. The issue has already become politicized, which can be nothing but detrimental to science (political science is an oxymoron). If the science was actually taught, then the students need to be exposed to the entire argument, both pro and con. If one really thinks an hypothesis is mistaken, the reasons why need to be addressed at a level that takes in more than a "you're wrong. Yeah , and so are you!" level of childish dispute. At the same time they will need to gain a working knowledge of what climate is, including the sad truth that the climate does nothing BUT change, that for hundreds of millions of years the planet has warmed and cooled dramatically, often within generational time spans. They will have to learn that contrary to political rhetoric, science does not operate on the basis of "consensus." A scientific consensus is meaningless in the face of one well supported contrary. Worse, once exposed to the pros and cons of a hypothesis they'll have to accept that some will accept the idea of anthrogenic climate change, others will reject it, while still others may find it a reasonable but unproven hypothesis. It would be a great curriculum taught properly, but educators and politicians would certainly get in the way of such program.

    For the record I'm a member of the third group, that consider the hypothesis empirically reasonable, but badly supported (if at all). Most proponents of the "proven" view fail to adequately discuss critical data acquisition issues like how and where atmospheric concentrations are measured to name just one glaring fault. Another problem is the failure to consider climate on a long enough temporal base. Data selection has often censored periods that would "obscure" the conclusions of the analyst - believers debate the Medieval warm spell or the mid-Holocene event for example, using very poor arguments that ignore empirical facts. There are very clear geological and archaeological data records associated with both those events that "climatic" arguments to the contrary can neither explain nor deny.

    Proponents of the "not real" tend to see human activity as ineffectual, not worth considering, ignoring the clear evidence from many different parts of the world that we are very much a part of what determines the "natural" environment at any given time and that civilizations may have more of an effect than tribal societies. So called "native " California grasslands vanished when autumnal burning was suppressed allowing the more quickly growing annual grass species that came in the coats of Spanish sheep to spread. The native grasses relied on human environmental effects. With curtailment of that human effect, the perennial grasses lost the environmental advantage. They were no more "natural" than the present state of affairs. In Britain a butterfly population was recently reported recovering after it was determined that they were dependent upon an ant, that in turn was dependent upon warm soil temperatures, that in turn were dependent upon grazing keeping grass short. The butterfly is DEPENDENT upon a human effect in the environment. We are very much a part of the environment and given our numbers and resource demands, we really should be interested in our interactions with it.

  • Unnecessary (Score:3, Informative)

    by belg4mit (152620) on Saturday February 16, 2008 @07:32PM (#22448728) Homepage
    This is silly. Besides, the problems inherent every random schlub mandating their pet topic be covered in the school
    curriculum, we already have much broader legislation addressing this: NEEA of 1990 [wikipedia.org]

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