Phi Beta Cons

Students Aren’t Taught Climate Science, but Climate Alarmism

One of my favorite H.L. Mencken quotes goes like this: “The aim of practical politics is to menace the populace with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary, to keep the people clamoring for politicians to save them.” Mencken would recognize what’s going on today with the way the statists use climate fear to lure people into supporting their agenda of continuous expansion of the powers of government.

In this week’s Pope Center Clarion Call, University of Delaware climatology professor David Legates muses on how our colleges and universities are going along with that by importuning students with climate alarmism rather than teaching climate science. That makes them, he writes, “easy targets for the climate alarmism that pervades America today.” What passes as scientific literacy on this amounts to instructing students that they need to “save energy, calculate their carbon footprint, and reduce, reuse and recycle.”

Moreover, universities go along with the alarmist crowd by running such programs as Delaware’s “Environmental Film Festival.” This event featured six films of which Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth wasn’t the worst. And instead of having discussions led by faculty members who actually teach in the fields of science involved, the school chose professors who had no background in them, but were on board with the idea that we face environmental disaster unless we give the government vast power to control human activity.

Professor Legates also observes that faculty members who don’t go along with the alarmism fare poorly in academia. He has experienced that first-hand, when the University of Delaware caved in to Greenpeace when it demanded access to his emails and research. Moreover, young faculty members would have to be really obtuse to miss the messages that if you go along with the climate change agenda, you can get grant money, but if you don’t you put your career in jeopardy.

“Climate science,” Legates concludes, “must return to being a real science and not simply a vehicle to promote advocacy talking points.” He’s right, but the “liberals” who now run America don’t want people to be literate about science any more than they want them to be literate about economics, history, or anything else where knowledge would incline people to oppose the march toward (as Ludwig von Mises entitled one of his books) Omnipotent Government.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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