Update #2: the Surrey School Board issued a correction late yesterday stating that: “On Monday, the Curriculum Review Committee recommended the “An Inconvenient Truth” video as an instructional resource, as per the Surrey School District’s regular curriculum approval process. When the DVDs are received by the district, they will be distributed to all secondary schools.”
“A Notice of Motion from Trustee Heather Stilwell was presented at the Surrey School Board’s public meeting of April 26, 2007.
The Notice of Motion is expected to be voted on at the board’s public board meeting on May 31. The proposed motion says: ‘That the school district’s Instructional Resources staff ensure that the resource The Great Global Warming Swindle is made available to schools as a companion resource to An Inconvenient Truth so that students can be provided with the range of perspectives associated with the issue of global warming.’
Stilwell stated yesterday: “I am not sure. I mean I see evidence. I think there is climate change, there’s no question about that. Whether what Al Gore says about it is the truth, I have questions.” Stilwell goes on the explain that if the documentary is aired, teachers should provide “alternative theories” on climate change.
In a letter to a local paper this weekend, Stilwell states:
“When I read that Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth” was being mailed to every high school in B.C., my first reaction was to put forward a motion to my fellow trustees.
I was simply asking for “The Great Global Warming Swindle” or another resources to be provided as balance. I was simply asking for “The Great Global Warming Swindle” or another resources to be provided as balance.I was not denying climate change. Science is not democratic – the idea with the most votes is not necessarily right. Sometimes, as in the past, ‘everybody’ was not right. The lone questioning voice proved to be correct. Galileo’s voice was a lone one, as was Pasteur’s.
Scientific ideas should be debated openly without rancor, name-calling and presumptions of bad intent. Al Gore’s movie is not a provincially approved resource. It has simply been mailed to the schools from an outside organization. Is this how the public wants education to be delivered? Make a film, win an Academy Award and then you get to show your movie to all students?
The public has the right to expect this – no one gets to indoctrinate our students – we must place all perspectives of a scientific issue before them.
Ms. Stilwell got a few things right in her letter.
She’s absolutely correct that “science is not democratic.” Science is based on the testing of hypotheses and the process of publishing in peer-reviewed academic journals. Nothing democratic about it. While The Inconvenient Truth accurately reflects the state of the science on global warming, the Global Warming Swindle contains many questionable statements, uses scientists who have not published any peer-reviwed research in over 10 years and was produced by an UK-shockumentary filmmaker that is well-known for bending the science to his forgone conclusions.
Stilwell also rightly points out that the “lone questioning voice” of Pasteur and Galileo turned out to be correct. The difference between Pasteur and Galileo and most of the contemporary global warming deniers, is that Galileo and Pasteur were in the lab doing research, not running from TV station to newspaper touting talking points instead of peer-reviewed research.
Of course, like every post we do as we follow this Inconvenient Truth in classrooms debate, I will get a barrage of e-mails saying we support censorship of “both sides of the story” in the global warming “debate.” So to save everyone the trouble of sending me long, ranting emails accusing me of everything from MCarthyism to being a “brown shirt,” here’s my response:
Thanks for the email,
I understand where you’re coming from on the need for our children to be exposed to countering viewpoints in science and all areas of academic pursuit. They should be, and in that light I hope soon to see copies of Loose Change in our schools countering the notion that 9/11 was the work of terrorists and Unlocking the Mystery of Life, which clearly states an evangelical alternative to the theory of evolution.