The Portland Public Schools board is going to need to buy some carbon offsets to compensate for its new book-burning campaign.
Well, okay, it’s not actually planning to burn the books, so it’s in the clear on the emissions. Perhaps it will use a more ecologically sensitive solution like composting. Either way, the politically incorrect books are on the way out.
Last week, the Portland, Oregon, public schools board voted to “abandon the use of any adopted text material that is found to express doubt about the severity of the climate crisis or its root in human activities.”
This is the party of “science” at work. Because the rigorous suppression of doubt and skepticism is the essence of a good science education, right?
But don’t worry, Jonathan Chait is on top of this and informs us that it’s all just in the imaginations of “anti-science conservatives” because “the story does not actually describe a book ban. It describes a ban on ‘textbooks and other teaching materials that deny climate change exists or cast doubt on whether humans are to blame.'” Which is a totally different thing, somehow.
In other news, Chait is strongly against political correctness when it targets people like him. The rest of us are fair game.
Actually, the story is even worse than what conservative news sites have reported. It’s not just that Portland banished from its schools any active denial of catastrophic, man-made global warming; it’s that they banished any language that implies the smallest amount of doubt. Bill Bigelow, a former teacher now working for the activist group that pushed this resolution, explained its rationale in testimony to the school board:
Bigelow said PPS’ science textbooks are littered with words like ‘might,’ ‘may,’ and ‘could’ when talking about climate change. ‘Carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles, power plants and other sources, may contribute to global warming,’ he quotes Physical Science published by Pearson as saying. ‘This is a section that could be written by the Exxon public relations group and it’s being taught in Portland schools.’
It reminds me of the old dictum attributed to Lenin: first you target the counter-revolutionaries, and then you target the insufficiently enthusiastic. This is no longer about suppressing us global warming “deniers.” It’s about erecting the global warming catechism as a dogma that cannot be given anything short of enthusiastic consent. You have to embrace it the way you love Big Brother.
But it gets worse. Bigelow is the co-author, conveniently, of his own alternative global warming textbook, “A People’s Curriculum for the Earth,” which lays out a course in “climate justice.” What does that mean? Another report from a site called Inquistr (which sounds like The Quibbler, looks like BuzzFeed, and reads like Pravda) explains:
Climate justice is a social justice issue that frames climate change not in physical or environmental terms, but as a social, ethical and political issue. Climate justice is based on the idea that climate change has a disproportionate effect on low-income and minority communities, which will now be taught to students in the Portland Public School system.
So this is an attempt to use global warming as a delivery device for old-fashioned Marxism, and it will indeed now be Portland public school policy. The school board resolution mandates the adoption of “curriculum and educational opportunities that address climate change and climate justice in all Portland Public Schools.”
I supposed we should at least be happy that the cards are on the table. For years, some of us have described the promoters of the global warming hysteria as “watermelons”: green on the outside, red on the inside. It’s nice to hear them confirm that “climate” is no longer to be thought of in “physical” — i.e., scientific — terms but is really a “political issue.” That is what we’ve been saying all along.
But that leads me to the most ominous part of the story: that the school board’s resolution was adopted unanimously (at a sparsely attended meeting that feels a bit like an extended “Portlandia” sketch). There was not a single person who saw anything wrong with it and was willing to say so. On the school board. And judging from Chait’s reaction, the whole of the “pro-science” left will march along happily with this bit of Lysenkoism.
Explaining why all of this is wrong and deeply unscientific almost seems to be beside the point, so I’ll leave the job of rebuttal to two of my heroes. Carl Sagan:
The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there is no place for it in the endeavor of science.
And Henry Jones, Sr.:
Goose-stepping morons such as yourself should try reading books instead of burning them.
This used to be not just basic scientific ethics, but also basic liberalism, back when there was still such a thing as liberalism.
The only thing that’s really interesting about this story is the way the “science” mask is coming off. If the Left really wanted to guard its reputation jealously as the Party of Science, it wouldn’t do this. It’s too blatantly obviously un-scientific and anti-scientific. But what if it just wanted to use science as a slogan, to steal its well-earned credibility to revive its discredited pseudo-science of Marxist economics and to give itself an excuse to persecute dissenters? Well then, this is exactly the sort of thing it would do.
That’s the dead giveaway that this isn’t science but is instead one of those other fields Sagan mentioned: religion or politics or an unholy fusion of the two.
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