What Are Schools Teaching Kids About Our Energy Future? 6/28/11
By Art Horn, Meteorologist
A very important component of our future energy development direction and production will come not necessarily from the truth but what is perceived to be the truth. Make no mistake, what today’s young people are being taught in school about energy and its relationship to global warming will determine what direction we go in developing the critical energy resources we need. Plentiful and affordable energy is as important to the future of America and the world as the daily intake of food and water is to the survival of every man, woman and child alive today. Reliable and affordable energy is the nourishment of our way of life, without it we will starve and die.
I worked as an on air meteorologist for 25 years, mostly with NBC stations. Now I am self employed. Recently I was presenting my program about how weather works to a middle school. During a break between groups I had a chance to look around the library where I was presenting my program. I thought it would be interesting and revealing to see what kind of books about energy and climate the library was providing to the students. It didn’t take long to find the answer.
The first book I found with little effort was titled “Are we running out of energy?” by Christiane Dorion and published by Arcturus books. Interestingly the logo for Arcturus books is a polar bear with a little star above its head. This book is overtly against traditional energy production. In chapter one on the second page, the author states “There are huge problems with using fossil fuels. First, they are non-renewable because they take millions of years to form and can only be used once. If we keep using them as we are now nearly all of the existing reserves will be gone by the end of the twenty first century. Second, when we burn fossil fuels we produce polluting gases that contribute to warming the earth’s temperature. This is why we need to find alternatives.”
There are several factual problems with this paragraph. First there is no reliable estimate of how much fossil fuel energy is left in the earth. Some estimates indicate there could be hundreds of years of recoverable oil and natural gas buried in the earth’s crust. Secondly the author is referring to carbon dioxide “pollution” that is released by the burning of fossil fuels. Calling carbon dioxide pollution is misinformation designed to deceive the student. Pollution kills things, carbon dioxide is an essential component of the earth’s atmosphere and without it all plant, animal and human life would die. It is standard operating procedure to call carbon dioxide pollution in the alarmist man made global warming industry. The environmental movement constantly uses the “carbon pollution” lie to push their anti-energy development agenda.
As I read through the book I found that virtually every page was full of misconceptions, errors if not outright lies. From page 10 “Discovering new reserves can also cause problems. As the earth’s temperature has risen with our burning of fossil fuels.” The author states that the reason the temperature has risen is because of burning fossil fuels. This is an assumption with computer models as the only “evidence” that this is true. The temperature of the earth has been rising since the bottom of the “Little Ice Age” around the year 1700. The rate of warming has not increased in the last 160 years. Half of the so called global warming in the last 160 years was from 1910 to 1945. The next warming period was from 1977 to 1998. The rate of warming recently was exactly the same as the 1910 to 1945 warming. The warming stopped in 1998 and trend has been zero ever since.
The title of Chapter three is “Why is the climate changing?” The first sentence says “For nearly 200 years people have been changing the earth’s atmosphere by burning coal, oil and gas on a large scale and pumping out massive amounts of carbon dioxide and other gases.” She never mentions that as a percent of the atmosphere the total increase in carbon dioxide since 1800 is .01%. She then also states that “The earth’s temperature is warming faster than at anytime in the past 10,000 years.” This is clearly false. Ice cores from Greenland indicate that the earth’s climate has warmed and cooled many times during the past 10,000 years. The warming periods have often been much more rapid than the current rate. She also never mentions that over the last 160 years of thermometer measurement the earth has only warmed 1 degree Fahrenheit and the warming is not accelerating.
She goes on to mention that “Polar bears face the loss of their icy wilderness in the Arctic” but never informs the student that there are now an estimated 25,000 polar bears in the Arctic, up from an estimate 5,000 in the 1960s. Any middle school student reading this book will come away with the message that oil, coal and gas are bad and we must stop using them immediately no matter what the consequences.
Another book I found was titled, “A Green World?” by Nicola Baird published by Franklin Watts, a division of Grolier publishing. This is a highly biased book written by a far left environmentalist. Nicola Baird has been a board member of the Forest Stewardship Council and has served as an editor of publications at the radical environmental group Friends of the Earth. On every page of this book the author claims that basically everything that humans do is threatening the earth’s well being and we need to change our evil polluting ways. She mentions Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” and the damaging effects of DDT. Of course she never mentions that the banning of DDT has caused the death of tens of millions of people in the third world who were bitten by malaria carrying mosquitoes. DDT is the only proven chemical that can safely kill those mosquitoes.
She also is telling the students reading this book that so called “polluters” should pay for their destruction of the environment and climate. She says “However, some people believe that preserving the environment will not necessarily harm economic growth in the long term, and that businesses can find a balance between the two, if they have to.” The “if they have to” implies some kind of government regulation to force companies to “go green” of else. She goes on to endorse the policies of other radical environmental groups such as Greenpeace with quotes such as “In half an hour enough of the sun’s energy is received by the earth to power humankind’s activities for a year.” Ignoring that fact that solar power always needs traditional fossil fuel power plants to back them up at night or when it’s cloudy.
In yet another book called “Natural Disasters” by Claire Watts and Trevor Day published by DK publishing there is a section on Climate Change. The book says “For about the last 100 years our planet has been growing warmer, but in the last few decades the rate of change has increased dramatically. Many scientists believe that this global warming is largely due to the enormous volumes of polluting gases released by burning fossil fuels.” The authors have clearly decided that the message is more important than the facts. Data from the Hadley Center global temperature record shows that since 1945 earth’s average temperature has only increased in one 21 year period, from 1977 to 1998. There was a slight cooling from 1945 to 1976 and no warming since 1998. This is not a dramatic increase over the last few decades but the unaware students will be left with that message. The section also recites the mandatory threat to polar bears due to decreasing ice. Sea ice in the arctic is cyclical and is tied to the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO). When the AMO is in the warm phase the Gulf Stream pumps warmer water into the Arctic and the amount of sea ice is reduced. In the cold phase of the AMO the flow of warm water in the Gulf Stream slows and sea ice in the Arctic increases. The Atlantic has been in the warm phase since the mid 1990s and will continue to be for another 10 years or so. After that the AMO will return to the cool phase and sea ice will increase again in the Arctic.
I shuffled through a few more books and found “Water For Life” by Valerie Bodden published by Creative Education. On the very first page the book trumpets “Temperatures are warming as greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide trap heat in the atmosphere. As one reads through the book the same messages are repeated that I found in the other books. Human activity is destroying or will destroy the earth and we need to change our ways if we’re going to save nature. The book continually says that our use of water is excessive and methods of using water to generate power like hydroelectric plants destroy wetlands and harm fish migrations. On page 21 the author says “global warming caused by the production of greenhouse gases appears to be a growing threat to earth’s water supply. Although some scientists disagree about the extent of global warming, many believe that earth’s surface temperature could increase by 2 to 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century. As a result many of the world’s glaciers could melt, causing the rivers they supply to at first overflow and then slow to a trickle. Warming temperatures and melting glaciers may also cause sea levels to rise and submerge coastal wetlands and cities.” I think it’s interesting that the author chose to mention wetlands first and then cities submerging.
The point is that this is another of an apparently endless series of books made for middle school students that condemns how we live and how we make energy. If this one school library is a microcosm of other school libraries around the country than these same messages are being pounded into the heads of our youth day after day, year after year with virtually no opinion from anyone other than environmentally driven eco-authors whos mission is to re-invent energy production with no idea of how to do it. By the time these students are old enough to question the assumptions and errors in these books it might be too late to reverse the direction the radical environmental movement has taken us.