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DaphneT's avatar

Which is better? To teach climate change or to teach climate, weather, statistics and logical thinking and let the students determine for themselves that our climate is changing?

Asked by DaphneT (5740points) March 27th, 2013

Supposedly new guidelines for science education are to be released shortly, as reported on NPR yesterday. Amongst the recommendations are to teach ‘climate change’. Why would a scientist teach something so nebulous? Climate change is about knowing what climate is, what weather is and how both impact the human population. Would it not be better to teach climate, atmospheric science, weather, anthropology, sociology, geography, oceanography, and all the other sciences that pertain to understanding the human population and its existence on this planet? What do you think?

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29 Answers

Bellatrix's avatar

I would think you can teach both or all of those things. Teach students about atmospheric science, meteorology, geography, etc. etc. and teach them how to analyse how the climate is changing (if it is) and how to use scientific methods to try to determine why change is happening. I don’t see any problem with teaching about changes we have already observed and the various scientific explanations for why those changes have occured.

flutherother's avatar

Schools should teach science, which is all about facts and statistics and logical thinking. Schools should teach the science behind global warming and climate change as it is such an important issue.

glacial's avatar

Atmospheric science and meteorology are not taught at a high school level, for good reason. There is almost nothing you can learn about either of these sciences that doesn’t require knowing how to deal with partial differential equations. They’ll have to do it using a broader brush. And what’s wrong with doing that, really?

Blondesjon's avatar

Perhaps we should teach our children that no matter what you choose to call it and no matter whether you believe in it or not this shit is going to happen without some serious social sacrifice.

My vehicle runs on gas not conjecture.

ETpro's avatar

I’d add to what @glacial said, would you have schools teach all the maths then wait for them to discover gravity and relativity, or would you teach Newtonian physics and Relativity in science classes, and differential equations in math? The science behind anthropomorphic climate change isn’t nebulous at all. It’s just under a massive onslaught of disinformation and junk science from big oil, a $40 trillion dollar annual enterprise willing to spend billions defending its ever increasing profits in exactly the same way big tobacco did back when science first established that nicotine is addictive and that smoking causes numerous kinds of cancer and heart disease. In fact, big tobacco used many of the same junk science “institutes”, lobbying firms, and PR agencies to push it’s disinformation that climate science deniers are relying on today.

Blueroses's avatar

It is very difficult to present “facts” without a bias.

If you know how to do this, please let the rest of us in on it.

marinelife's avatar

Climate change is a fact. It should be taught. Why do you think it is “nebulous”?

RocketGuy's avatar

For some, facts means global temps go up 50F everywhere at the same time. None of this “on average…” stuff.
Note: on average, people lose ⅔7 times in roulette. But people still play, hoping the law of averages doesn’t work on them.

DaphneT's avatar

Climate: noun
1. the composite or generally prevailing weather conditions of a region, as temperature, air pressure, humidity, precipitation, sunshine, cloudiness, and winds, throughout the year, averaged over a series of years.

Change: noun
verb (used with object)
1. to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone

Nebulous: adjective
hazy, vague, indistinct, or confused


I used the word nebulous to mean confused and indistinct.

Given the definition of Climate, why isn’t atmospheric science already being taught in words and concepts appropriate for each grade in school as part of the basic science curriculum? I learned it; if not from my school science then from where? Why attach the word change to it since an analysis of the averages over a series of years will highlight the fact that our climate is changing.

Comprehending the fact that our climate is changing requires knowledge of history: geographical, political, anthropological, etc. Are these topics being taught in words and concepts appropriate for each grade in school as part of the basic curriculum?

Shouldn’t they be? Wouldn’t it make more sense to teach logic, analysis and philosophy so that each student can determine their own conclusions by they time they are in the 12th grade?

glacial's avatar

@DaphneT Why? We already know that climate change is happening. If you are conceding that they need to be taught these sciences at age-appropriate levels, and not given all of the building blocks to do the math themselves, then why would schools hide the punchline?

Also… what do history, politics, anthropology, and philosophy have to do with teaching about climate change? It sounds like you’re angling towards a “teach the controversy” approach, much like the creationists want to do with evolution. Even though there is no actual controversy.

Jaxk's avatar

Our climate is always changing. When that stops we’ll be as dead as Mars. Teach that.

Qingu's avatar

Earth’s climate is a dynamic system. Part of teaching about “climate” and “atmospheric science” involves teaching how the climate changes, and why.

One major way the climate can change is a disruption in the carbon cycle, such as the observed massive buildup of greenhouse gases that has led to an observed rise in Earth’s average temperature since the 1800’s.

So I don’t really know why you wouldn’t teach kids what I just said. In fact, I think the question is a deliberate attempt to shield students from a scientifically-accepted truth that you personally have a problem with, for whatever reason. Just like how religious conservatives want us to “teach students all about the different plants and animals and let them decide if they think they’ve evolved.”

Qingu's avatar

By the way, @Jaxk is not actually so ignorant as to believe that because your living room gets hotter in the summer and colder in the winter, burning a fire in the middle of the room won’t raise its temperature.

He owns a gas station. Like many conservatives who shout from the rooftops that climate change is a hoax, has a vested interest in selling fossil fuels. So he says things that a part of him must know are not true. Over and over.

Jaxk's avatar

I don’t really disagree with what @Qingu has posted. With the exception of my bias. I do own a gas station. And the temperatures have risen considerably since 1800. Of course what he fails to mention is that in 1800, we were still in the grip of “Little Ice Age”. If temperatures had not risen, we’d still be in it. The little ice age was a disastrous period lasting from 1300 til 1850. There is a video from the History channel titled Big Chill, that should be taught in school. It chronicles the death and destruction that comes with a rather small decrease in temperatures. Famine, war, pestilence all accompany that climate change.

If you look back at global temperatures, warm periods are periods of growth and plenty, while cold periods are periods of death and destruction. The warm period we are in now is a great relief from the Little Ice Age and frankly I am grateful for it. We do need more education on climate and the effects it can have on society. But we need to have a good grip on what is and isn’t beneficial. Take a look at the Big Chill and decide if you want to go back to that.

Qingu's avatar

I’m glad to see @Jaxk position has evolved from “climate change is a hoax” to “climate change is happening… and it’s going to be great!” Just to be clear, do you also accept the overwhelming consensus that the current global warming is due largely to anthropogenic carbon emissions? Or are you holding off on evolving that far, for now?

In any case, @Jaxk is completely wrong when he suggests that global warming will be beneficial. Maybe in some places—Canada, for example, is projected to have a better climate for agriculture. The US will probably be worse off overall because much of our interior will become drier, but we can probably handle it. And I don’t think global warming will be a civilization-destroying disaster. But many of the world’s poorest places will be fucked. In much of Africa, already not the best place for agriculture, models predict widespread droughts. Southeast Asia will be especially vulnerable to rising sea levels. Millions of people will be displaced and become much more vulnerable to famine.

Pointing out that cold snaps are also harmful to agriculture is a non-sequitor. So are volcanic eruptions and asteroid impacts, but that’s not what we’re discussing. Needless to say—as I’m sure @Jaxk knows—a rebound from the so-called “Little Ice Age” is not nearly enough to explain the current warming trend, which is now much higher than the previous maximum.

And nothing from the History channel should ever be taught in school.

Jaxk's avatar


So you don’t like the History Channel. I wonder why I’m not surprised. But your description of 6 centuries of cold weather as a cold snap, puts you straw-man to rest for me.

DaphneT's avatar

I guess I just don’t understand why the political-news-media phrase “Climate Change” has been tagged as an acceptable scientific phrase when the reality is that the phrase “Climate Change” is meant to cut corners, obfuscate the real issues and derail sensible discussions about changing human practices to have less negative impacts on our environment.

It seems to me the the scientists have not successfully co-opted the phrase for positive, thoughtful discussions. So why use it?

glacial's avatar

@DaphneT A quick search of the exact phrase “climate change” (i.e. a limited search) on Web of Knowledge yields 76,765 academic papers. But you don’t think scientists are successfully having “positive, thoughtful discussions” about it?

The problem with how the general public perceives the discussion on climate change is that it reaches the public through the lens of the media, and is often presented in the context of politics. Both the media and politicians are heavily influenced by corporate interests who badly want everyone to stop talking about climate change, because the discussion has the potential to hurt their profits. Also, the media tries to introduce the bizarre notion of “fairness” by presenting opposing sides of an issue to create a better fight, even when the sides bear unequal weight on that issue. This is especially harmful when the topics involve science – for example, evolution or climate change. It makes it look like there is disagreement (or “controversy”) where there is none.

None of that has anything to do with how scientists discuss climate change – and latter is the only thing that should influence what is taught in schools.

kritiper's avatar

Teach climate change. To wait until the student figures it out means even more of an undesirable delay in a solution. (If there was one, that is.)

BiZhen's avatar

It is best to try to teach people how to think objectively, rather than to indoctrinate them with this quasi-religion of GW-CC-GCV. The choices you offer are far too limited and biased for this dubious idea that has had several name changes and is similar to the predictions of a New Ice Age a few decades ago.

ETpro's avatar

@BiZhen Science is not quasi-religion. When 97% of active climatologists agree that human activity is causing global warming, that’s settled science till something newly discovered improves the model. I have asked and asked climate change deniers what they think will let mankind keep dumping 29 gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere with that amount growing, and have it NOT cause warming. We know that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. We know its atmospheric half-life is greater than 30 years. We know levels of atmospheric CO2 have been “steadily building since the onset of the industrial revolution. See

In all of Earth’s history, no actor has started forcing nature at an ever expanding rate century after century. Given that we are now doing just that, why would we expect Earth’s natural thermostat to handle the changes we’re creating? What’s going to magically remove all that extra CO2, or magically make it not be a greenhouse gas any longer?

RocketGuy's avatar

I learned something new last week – CO2 is such a strong absorber of infrared that the CO2 in ambient air will screw up an FTIR instrument reading if the infrared beam has to travel more than an inch to get to my sample. Imagine how much solar heat is absorbed by 29 gigatons of CO2.

BiZhen's avatar

ETpro cannot distinguish genuine science from quasi-religious “gou pi” used in swindles by such vicious scoundrels as Al Gore. “Climatology” is on the level of “creation science”, not physics, chemistry and such firm sciences. Not so long ago, alarmists were predicting an imminent Neo Ice Age. Now, it is GG-CC-GCV. Alarmists have done the sme thing for centuries, and they find ways to steal money with it. Christians have predicted the “End of Time” is close, since that absurd belief was invented. Wikipedia is not a reliable source. Many college professors do not allow their students to use it. My first boyfriend made additions and corrections to it. ETpro evidently only looks at data that seems to agree with his absurd biases.

Jaxk's avatar


Interesting video. The first half tells us we can’t take a poll about facts and the second half tells us the poll proves it’s a fact. Kinda defines the whole climate change argument.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk The poll just might be meaningful when it is 97% of the published scientists in a subject versus 3%. But then to con men, polls only prove what they like them to prove.

I have, again and again, challenged those who deny global warming is being caused by human generated carbon emissions to explain what’s stopping 29 gigatons of CO2 released every year from having any impact on the greenhouse effect. None ever has.

RocketGuy's avatar

They are too worried that they will have to change their behavior and pay more money.

It is scary to think that the 99% will be fighting each other over scraps of resources when shit hits the fan, while the 1% will be sitting pretty in their luxury fortresses.

BiZhen's avatar

One video does not prove anything. Jack says it contradicts itself.The alarmists are going to extremes again. I have a message saying some of my answers have been removed. I am not going to waste more time answering when favored people just remove them arbirtarily. I am leaving Fluther, as other people have. One of my past lovers kyojin told me something about it. He and his new lover Miyuki were here and left, due to unfairess and injustice. How many more people will leave? I have used Yahoo Answers for a few years, and I use Experience project. They are much better than than this one.

ETpro's avatar

Oh so Jack (whoever that is) trumps 97% of the published climatologists. Thermometers, global temperature records over time, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and the ice now melting at both poles and on Greenland at an unparalleled rate, Al Gore is magically making all that happen. I’m done here. If you come up with an explanation of how artificially adding 30 billion tons of CO2 to the air every year will magically mend itself, I’m all ears. Till then, you are just spouting right-wing talking points.

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