Teachers promoting environmental biases in classrooms


October 2009

By Tim Ball
Senior Fellow
Frontier Centre for Public Policy

My grandson is five years old. After his second week in school, he asked his father what he was doing about global warming.

Think about that for a moment. Does anyone believe that a five year old can even understand the controversy surrounding the science of global warming, let along question what he is being told?

Rather than teaching my grandson the knowledge he will need to succeed academically – analytical skills and open mindedness, among others – his teacher is spending time indoctrinating him with her beliefs on global warming.

I am outraged. As Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, said, “Give me the child until he is seven and I will show you the man,” and classrooms today are definitely practicing what he preached.

For example, Ken Corley, a teacher at Vincent Massey Collegiate in Winnipeg, recently attempted to recruit students to lobby for climate change. His effort, called the Manitoba Power Shift Team, part of the Manitoba Environmental Youth Network, plans to hold seminars ending in a rally on Parliament Hill, at which they will “deliver our message of change to our elected officials and push the federal government to take bold steps in tackling climate change.”

I certainly commend students who become involved in the political process but, in this case, their cause is totally politically biased. Are these recruits to Mr. Corley’s cause being given all sides of the controversy?

These types of activities, which should not be promoted in the classroom, do underscore the biases of some groups and individuals who have direct access to our children, their classrooms and the curriculum. It was Clarence Day, an early 20th century author, who warned that “Arrogance, pedantry, and dogmatism are the occupational diseases of those who spend their lives directing the intellects of the young.”

Imagine what the reaction would be if Mr. Corley was urging students to promote business and free enterprise? The justifiable outrage would be thunderous.

Proselytizing, that is attempting to convert someone from one religion, belief, or opinion to another, has no place in our children’s classrooms. We must be constantly vigilant to ensure that all information our children receive is balanced and delivered with an open mind. There is no room in our classrooms for indoctrination.

Appropriately, the public school system removed the influence of organized religion and politics from the classroom. But was that only so they could be replaced by the new religion and politics of environmentalism?

Environmentalism is invariably taught in social studies, yet it is a scientific subject. Most people teaching the subject have little to no knowledge or understanding of the science involved.

A few years back, a United Kingdom court, citing nine serious errors, ruled that Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth was politically-biased. It ordered the government to provide information to teachers to warn students if the movie was used as a teaching tool. Would you be surprised to learn that it wasn’t a teacher who had serious misgivings about the content of the movie, but a parent whose son reported what was happening in the classroom? The fact that the government had to inform teachers of the errors confirms their lack of knowledge.

Can the students participate in the Manitoba Power Shift Team? Of course: it is important to encourage political participation. Can teachers participate outside of school hours? Of course: we are all entitled to our personal activities and political views. But it is not all right for teachers to use of children’s classrooms or the school system to promote their biases and personal political views. As educator A.B.Alcott said, “The true teacher defends his pupils against his own personal influence.” We need to be vigilant of those who don’t.

Tim Ball is a retired University of Winnipeg climatology professor who now lives in Victoria BC and a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, http://www.fcpp.org

50 thoughts on “Teachers promoting environmental biases in classrooms

  1. From Ross McKitrick:
    “Steve and I showed that the mathematics behind the Mann Hockey Stick were badly flawed, such that its shape was determined by suspect bristlecone tree ring data. Controversies quickly piled up: Two expert panels involving the U.S. National Academy of Sciences were asked to investigate, the U.S. Congress held a hearing, and the media followed the story around the world.

    The expert reports upheld all of our criticisms of the Mann Hockey Stick, both of the mathematics and of its reliance on flawed bristlecone pine data. One of the panels, however, argued that while the Mann Hockey Stick itself was flawed, a series of other studies published since 1998 had similar shapes, thus providing support for the view that the late 20th century is unusually warm. The IPCC also made this argument in its 2007 report. But the second expert panel, led by statistician Edward Wegman, pointed out that the other studies are not independent. They are written by the same small circle of authors, only the names are in different orders, and they reuse the same few data climate proxy series over and over.”


  2. The expert reports upheld all of our criticisms of the Mann Hockey Stick

    Which experts? Every review of this debate that I’ve ever seen, including the data from the Wegman Report, has shown the complete opposite.


  3. Quoting from Ross McKitrick:
    “Most of the proxy data does not show anything unusual about the 20th century. But two data series have reappeared over and over that do have a hockey stick shape. One was the flawed bristlecone data that the National Academy of Sciences panel said should not be used, so the studies using it can be set aside. The second was a tree ring curve from the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia, compiled by UK scientist Keith Briffa.

    Briffa had published a paper in 1995 claiming that the medieval period actually contained the coldest year of the millennium. But this claim depended on just three tree ring records (called cores) from the Polar Urals. Later, a colleague of his named F. H. Schweingruber produced a much larger sample from the Polar Urals, but it told a very different story: The medieval era was actually quite warm and the late 20th century was unexceptional. Briffa and Schweingruber never published those data, instead they dropped the Polar Urals altogether from their climate reconstruction papers.”


  4. Since you didn’t answer the question, let me repeat it: “What expert reports uphold M&M’s criticisms of the Mann Hockey Stick?” Any? Any experts at all?

    I’ve got the NRCR report, the IPCC reports, and if you read carefully, the Wegman report, upholding the Mann stick and refuting M&M’s criticisms. You have McKitrick of M&M saying “N’uh uh!” Do you have anything else?


  5. Don’t need anything else. M&M have made themselves very clear. Read what they have to say.


  6. So I’ll take that as a “No, there are no independent experts besides M&M think that think M&M’s criticisms have any validity.”


  7. You can think whatever you want, but a pair of Canadians have debunked the research. I trust their credentials more than your opinion.


  8. LOL

    Here’s what scientists really think about the Mann Hockey Stick: “Academy affirms hockey-stick graph

    Sorry Ian, M&M are a pair of crackpots – I can think all I want about them, but that’s the opinion of scientists writ large.


  9. “M&M are a pair of crackpots.”

    This from Ross McKitrick:
    “The IPCC review process, of which I was a member last time, is nothing at all like what the public has been told: Conflicts of interest are endemic, critical evidence is systematically ignored and there are no effective checks and balances against bias or distortion.”

    Sorry about your credibility, Dan.


  10. LOL

    Waa, waa waa… sorry Ian, McKitrick can whine all he likes about being the only voice of reason in the world, but that’s crazy talk. Think back to the Bozo the Clown quote I mentioned previously.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s