Memo To The NSTA: Is It Getting Hot In There Yet?

Oh. Oh. Oh. I think just about every science blogger I read is up in arms about this one.

Laurie David, the producer of the acclaimed film ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ published another less than convenient factiod in the Washington Post on Sunday.

At hundreds of screenings this year of “An Inconvenient Truth,” the first thing many viewers said after the lights came up was that every student in every school in the United States needed to see this movie.

The producers of former vice president Al Gore’s film about global warming, myself included, certainly agreed. So the company that made the documentary decided to offer 50,000 free DVDs to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) for educators to use in their classrooms. It seemed like a no-brainer.

The teachers had a different idea: Thanks but no thanks, they said.

The reason? Apparently the NSTA gets quite a bit of support from the oil and gas industry funding those scientifically ‘neutral’ web sites with drowning polar bears all the pretty, big trees grown on excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

I originally took a pass on the Op-Ed because of the less than exciting WP headline ‘Science a la Joe Camel.’ I mean duh! With GW in office and the Big Dick as his right hand – um – man, who thought any different? 

James Hansen didn’t. You remember him? The NASA climatologist who the Bush appointee tried to silence. He still tries to get the message out and has both an article (pdf) in the December World Watch magazine and an interview with Reuters while he was in London.. The message? What is the current administration policy? It boils down to ‘don’t look, don’t teach, don’t talk about it, don’t think about it. It’s not a problem. THERE IS NO CONTROVERSY! NA! NA! NA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!’

There are currently discussions in the EU about starting to impose sanctions on the US unless the current environmental policies are ‘adapted’ to a more realistic approach to global climate change. But you know those wishy-washy, flip-flopping Old (sorry, Rummy’s gone, not old any more) Europeans. They’re soft on everything.

Like the English – it’s just waffle, waffle, waffle. For your edification I present the current English waffling as presented in the recent Stern Review, an economic analysis of climate change commissioned by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The benefits of strong, early action on climate change outweigh the costs

The effects of our actions now on future changes in the climate have long lead times. What we do now can have only a limited effect on the climate over the next 40 or 50 years. On the other hand what we do in the next 10 or 20 years can have a profound effect on the climate in the second half of this century and in the next.

No-one can predict the consequences of climate change with complete certainty; but we now know enough to understand the risks. Mitigation – taking strong action to reduce emissions – must be viewed as an investment, a cost incurred now and in the coming few decades to avoid the risks of very severe consequences in the future. If these investments are made wisely, the costs will be manageable, and there will be a wide range of opportunities for growth and development along the way. For this to work well, policy must promote sound market signals, overcome market failures and have equity and risk mitigation at its core. That essentially is the conceptual framework of this Review. [bold in the original]

Some people don’t agree with the current American administration. They feel the only way to change opinions is to teach about the issues. That is what science education is about. Unless of course you work for the NSTA and refuse to teach. The NSTA seems comfortable with this. Sara Robinson over at Orcinus feels differently. Indeed she puts it rather succinctly.

Memo to the Christian Coalition: The NSTA is for sale. For a mere million bucks a year, I’ll bet you could get them on board with Intelligent Design, too.

Memo to parents: It might be time to find out if your kids’ science teachers are members of this group, and have a word with them about it. If you — or the teachers — want to complain directly to the NSTA, the complaint form is here. They need to hear from everyone who still thinks that scientific truth shouldn’t be auctioned off to the highest donor.

So yeah. It seems people get a little hot under the collar on this issue. They get grumpy when an organization that claims to uphold honesty and scientific integrity turns out to be in the pocket of big business. They get grumpy when an organization claims to support scientific education when, in reality, supports pseudo-scientific propaganda.They get especially grumpy as things get worse and worse and worse and no one in politics cares or does anything.

So I ask those people at the NSTA, those rocket scientists who turned down 50,000 free copies of ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ because it might have been a little – inconvenient. Is it getting a little warmer? Just a little hot? Think about it.

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1 comment so far

  1. […] The NSTA has posted their response to Laura David’s Op-Ed which I (and lots of others) blogged about yesterday. First off, the executive director Dr. Gerald Wheeler clarified the NSTA position on what he feels happened during the discussions with the production company. During conversations with Ms. David’s representative we suggested making the DVD available via alternative means of distribution (e.g. by providing a mailing list of our members to producers, announcing its availability in our publications, etc.). It appears that these alternative distribution mechanisms were unsatisfactory. […]


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