The state agency responsible for “following the science” on COVID and other healthcare risks has released a new climate science curriculum for high school students. Emphasizing the importance, he argues that “rational thinking” is overrated.
The curriculum available on OER Commons was created in collaboration with the Washington State Department of Health and claims to “study climate impacts” in Washington State. The main features of the curriculum, however, are not science, but emotions, poetry, ‘participatory art’, and activity.
When a curriculum references data, it does not provide evidence and simply postulates results that are often inconsistent with the data.
For example, in the “Climate Change and Pregnancy” section, we asked the question “Should we have children” when faced with a future with climate change. They begin their discussion with words devised by the “Verbal Reality Bureau” to describe the desire to have children while worrying about a “future filled with suffering.”
First, it should be noted that this is not an accurate portrayal of the future impacts of climate change. UN IPCC data show that by 2100, people around the world will be wealthier under any climate scenario. Such dataless claims are made repeatedly in the curriculum.
Instead of relying on IPCC data, the curriculum will change to what is called the “Bureau of Linguistic Reality.” The organization’s founders call it a “public participatory artwork…focused on creating new language as an innovative way to better understand a world that is rapidly changing due to human-made climate change.” ” is called. The webpage says they are working on “linguistic relativity”.
The science curriculum begins with words invented as part of an art project that emphasizes relativity.
The slide with this new word also contains a note for teachers. The memo claims that “for too long science and science education have prioritized my (sic) rational thinking.” Instead of rationality, “we must learn to pay attention to our own and other people’s emotions,” the memo argues. Otherwise, the curriculum “may be seen as arrogant,” warns. Not only does the memo deny rational thinking and emphasize emotion, but the Department of Health-approved curriculum turns into emotion manipulation by insinuating that dissenting students are arrogant.
There are many other issues. For example, they argue that heat-related effects on pregnancy are related to the “heat island effect”. It shows that all counties with the highest perinatal mortality rates, including counties, are rural.
The same is true for low birth weight, with the counties with the highest rates of low birth weight infants being Adams, Ferry, Grays Harbor, Mason, Pacific, Pend Oreille, and Spokane. The fact that so many rural areas have the highest rates of difficult pregnancies indicates that the heat island effect is not a significant factor. Curriculum data regarding data analysis does not match the claims made in the curriculum.
There are other issues with the claims made in the curriculum, but the approach is perhaps best understood in the last two slides. They show a poem, artfully slanted with words calling for “grandmothers everywhere on earth to rise and take their place as world leaders.” It invites the men to “graciously and gratefully stand aside and let them (us) do so” and concludes with the assertion that “the life of our species depends on it.”
A curriculum that purports to be about climate science includes a little bit of everything: participatory works of art, poetry, sentiment and accusations of hubris against them.
What it doesn’t have much of is actual science.
Todd Myers, Director of WPC’s Center for the Environment, author of Time to Think Small, is based in Cle Elum.