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Published on February 9th, 2018 | by Steve Hanley


Stupidity In High Places: Pruitt Pukes Platitudes, Idaho Bans Climate Change Education

February 9th, 2018 by  

In his never ending quest for first prize in the World’s Dumbest Human competition, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt told a Nevada television station during an interview recently, “We know humans have most flourished during times of warming trends. There are assumptions made that because the climate is warming, that necessarily is a bad thing.”

How I Learned To Relax And Love Climate Change

The Dr. Strangelove of climate deniers is telling us to relax and learn to love warmer temperatures. There may be advantages we haven’t even considered. For one thing, Greenland could become prime agricultural land and might help feed the world after traditional growing areas become barren. Second, oil companies will have a lot easier time tapping Arctic resources without all that pesky ice around.

But Pruitt wasn’t done with his buffoonery. Repeating the inane remarks he made to Reuters last month, he went on to claim people have some nerve saying what the temperature of the earth should be in years to come. “Do we know what the ideal surface temperature should be in the year 2100 or year 2018? It’s fairly arrogant for us to think we know exactly what it should be in 2100.”

He says he wants an “honest, transparent debate about what we do know and what we don’t know, so the American people can be informed and make decisions on their own.” It is ironic that Pruitt should be a champion of honesty, when he has been a paid mouthpiece for the  Koch Brothers and the oil companies for decades.

Stefan Rahmstorf, the head of earth system analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research tells The Guardian that temperature is not the main issue, temperature change is. “Pruitt, of course, is trying to have a straw man debate, distracting from the fact that not a certain temperature as such is better or worse, but that a change from what we are adapted to is a problem, especially a very rapid change in either direction — cooling or warming. This causes big disruption. We should not stray too far away from what we and the currently existing ecosystems have evolved for. That is the optimum, simply because it is what we’re highly adapted to, and any major change is going to be very painful.”

Katherine Hayhoe of Texas Tech adds, “There is no one perfect temperature for the earth, but there is for us humans, and that’s the temperature we’ve had over the last few thousands of years when we built our civilization, agriculture, economy, and infrastructure. Global average temperature over the last few millennia has fluctuated by a few tenths of degrees; today, it’s risen by nearly 1°C and counting.”

Turning Out The Lights In Idaho

IdahoLegislators in Idaho last week moved their state into contention for top prize in the Dumbest State In The Union contest by eliminating any mention of climate change from the state’s education standards. As reported by Think Progress, representative Scott Syme, a Republican (naturally) was the leading proponent of removing all supporting science content included in the standards, especially as it related to human activity as a cause of climate change. Syme is another person who gets an A for swallowing whole the straw man strategies preached by the fossil fuel industry.

“When we heard all the testimony, it was clear that all the students want to do inquiry and all the teachers want to move to this inquiry based type of learning and I think that is just spectacular,” Syme said on Wednesday. “My problem with the one paragraph was that it lead to conclusions. When you have conclusions in standards, it stifles inquiry.”

Syme previously cemented his position as a leader in educational theory by saying he didn’t care “if the students come up with a conclusion that the earth is flat — as long as it’s their conclusion, not something that’s told to them.” Apparently, if students decide that 2 + 2 = a ham sandwich, that is fine with the esteemed Mr. Syme. Just don’t require them to show their work.

And A Child Shall Lead Them

“Science education shouldn’t be a political issue,” says Cassandra Kenyon, a senior at Timberline High School in Boise. She testified in support of  adopting standards that include climate change at the Idaho legislature last week. “Education is being censored due to political fears, and students are the ones that are suffering.”

This is not the first time that Idaho legislators have fought to raise a generation of know-nothing dummies. Last year, its legislature voted to remove five paragraphs from the science standards that mentioned climate change and the role of humans in causing it. That made Idaho the first state to successfully remove climate science from public education through legislative action.

Connecting The Dots

Credit: The New Yorker via Robert Reich/Facebook

It is easy to be horrified by the antics of Donald Trump, the man who doesn’t read, has the attention span of gnat, and would rather play golf than govern. But Trump is merely a symptom. He is not responsible for the outpouring of hatred and loathing that has come to typify the United States. Look beneath the surface and you will find the same people stirring the pot and feeding the conflagration.

Most of them are associated with the fossil fuel industry. In order to protect their hegemony, they have invested billions over many decades to promote their world view. They have funded educational programs that teach their values to generations of students from Harvard University to South Succotash Community College. They have expropriated entire law schools to preach their doctrine of greed and corporate irresponsibility.

They have funded Fox News and Rush “Anal Cyst” Limbaugh, and cozied up to the evangelical community and the gun lobby. They have sought to fracture the American society into single issue splinter groups that can be easily controlled, and all to protect what they see as their God-given right to pollute the earth with the detritus that comes from extracting, transporting, and burning fossil fuels.

Their latest coordinated attack is on education. They don’t want to teach people how to think, they want a nation of Stepford citizens who will hew unswervingly to the “Climate change is just a theory” party line. The only way to stop them is to expose their pernicious views to the light of day, something they strenuously oppose. Spread the word. Be your own personal change agent. As Elie Wiesel so famously said, “There may be times when we cannot prevent injustice, but we must never fail to protest.” 
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About the Author

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island and anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. His motto is, "Life is not measured by how many breaths we take but by the number of moments that take our breath away!" You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter.

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