Why Rebut Al Gore? NPR Laments 'Confusion' Campaign to Teach Two Sides on Climate Change

March 27th, 2013 5:52 PM

On Wednesday’s Morning Edition, reporter Jennifer Ludden was disturbed by what’s happening in science classrooms. Climate change “has been politicized,” and conservatives are pushing “so-called academic freedom bills” to teach both sides of that public-policy controversy.

“But critics point out there is no controversy within science. Climate change is happening and it's largely driven by humans,” Ludden announced. So then why is Ludden reporting a story on this so-called non-controversy? 

Ludden reported 18 states are considering these academic freedom bills - seven this year. So far, only Tennessee and Louisiana have passed them.

LUDDEN: Still, say educators, since climate change has been politicized, many teachers avoid it altogether. Or, they do teach two sides. One day, it's Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth."

AL GORE, “AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH”: Starting in 1970, there was a precipitous drop-off in the amount, and extent and thickness of the arctic ice cap.

LUDDEN: And the next, "The Great Global Warming Swindle."

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Each day the news reports grow more fantastically apocalyptic.

LUDDEN: The end result for students: Confusion.

This is also NPR's rationale for liberal bias across the range of political issues: bringing in a conservative viewpoint is confusing to the public, so it's better to slant it toward the "educational" advocates.

Ludden did include Joshua Youngkin of the Discovery Institute and James Taylor of the Heartland Institute in the story, but it began  and ended with Mark McCaffrey of the National Center for Science Education, implying there were politicizing conservatives vs. objective scientists. Here's how it started:

LUDDEN: By the time today's students grow up, the challenges posed by climate change are expected to be severe and sweeping. Yet, polls show they know little of it. Mark McCaffrey is with the National Center for Science Education.

MARK MCCAFFREY: Only one-in-five feel like they've got a good handle on climate change from what they've learned in school. So the state of climate change education in the U.S. is abysmal.

It ended by focusing on how children can be "freaked out" by "what can be crushingly depressing information" about the state of the planet:

MCCAFFREY: We've heard stories of students who learn about climate change, and then they go home and tell their parents. And everybody is upset because the parents are driving their kids to the soccer game, and the kids are feeling guilty about being in the car and contributing to this global problem. So it does raise a lot of very, very difficult psychological issues, sociological issues, and certainly inter-generational issues.

LUDDEN: Difficult, he says, but essential for this generation of students to take on.