I pity the fools

12 01 2007

Ever since An Inconvenient Truth has been out on DVD, controversy has surrounded the showing of the lecture-style documentary to public school students. Not long ago the National Science Teachers Association turned down a donation of 50,000 free copies of the film because of their ties to oil companies like Exxon and Shell (although the NTSA claims the offer was turned down for fear of politically endorsing Al Gore, and the film does do a bit more sympathizing with the ex-VP than is tasteful), and now the school districts of Federal Way, Washington have suspended showing the film because of a creationist wacko. The exact sociological environment that breeds conservatives who are both creationists and anti-environmentalist would be curious to study, as oftentimes those who consider evolution a lie get cranky about global warming as well. In any case, the man objecting to the film is named Frosty Hardison and was quoted by seattlepi.com as saying:

“Condoms don’t belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He’s not a schoolteacher,” said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven who also said that he believes the Earth is 14,000 years old. “The information that’s being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is. … The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn’t in the DVD.”

Ah, so the reason for global warming is that the fires of hell are being stoked for anyone who thinks abstinence-only education is a dangerous thing and that creationism has no place in public schools? What’s truly sad about this is that the uninformed opinion of one fundamentalist effectively robs an entire school system of learning something important about mankind’s effect on global ecology, and I can only assume that if Frosty gets this riled up about a DVD he’s probably written the school-board previously about evolution and sex ed. courses (although there’s no way I can prove this, so who knows?). The following lines of the article, however, are very frightening, with the school-board member David Larson saying

“Somebody could say you’re killing free speech, and my retort to them would be we’re encouraging free speech,” said Larson, a lawyer. “The beauty of our society is we allow debate.”

How will such “free speech” for those like Frosty be presented? The article reports

School Board members adopted a three-point policy that says teachers who want to show the movie must ensure that a “credible, legitimate opposing view will be presented,” that they must get the OK of the principal and the superintendent, and that any teachers who have shown the film must now present an “opposing view.”

The requirement to represent another side follows district policy to represent both sides of a controversial issue, board President Ed Barney said.

What “opposing view”? In the scientific community there is little to no dissent that man-made global warming is fact, the “controversy” an illusion created by op-ed pieces in the media by Christian fundamentalists or people with ties to companies/organizations that rely on fossil fuels. The connections between warming seas and hurricanes is seen as a bit dubious to some (especially since we have a lot more to learn about how hurricanes work in general), but even those scientists do not deny that the source of global warming comes from us. All this nonsense is nearly parallel to the “teach the controversy” model proposed by the Discovery Institute and others in the evolution/ID battles, and it seems to have the same brain-numbing effects on school boards. Don’t believe me? When Larson was asked if the same “Teach the Controversy” model should be applied to evolution, he replied “”It’s only a theory.” Ugh, I expect further controversy coming out of Federal Way in the future.

Even beyond ecological ignorance, there are some who wish the film not to be shown because of a perceived un-patriotic message. Frosty’s wife, Gayle, had this to say about the film

“From what I’ve seen (of the movie) and what my husband has expressed to me, if (the movie) is going to take the approach of ‘bad America, bad America,’ I don’t think it should be shown at all.”…”If you’re going to come in and just say America is creating the rotten ruin of the world, I don’t think the video should be shown.”

So as long as a school system doesn’t offend nationalistic prejudice, teaches that evolution is morally bankrupt, lies to students about abstinence being the only way, and respects Biblical authority above all else, people like the Hardisons will be happy and school boards like those in Federal Way will continue to oblige their objections to some degree. This isn’t the end of the story, however, Frosty claiming misrepresentation by the Seattle PI article. He wrote his own little rebuttal which can be found here.

Right out of the box, he jumps into the rhetoric, suggesting that we’re just in a warming trend that marks the end of the last Ice Age. There aren’t any more glaciers sliding around all over, so of course it must be getting warmer, right? Well, the last ice age ended about 10,000 years ago (there have been many over earth’s history, not just the one with mammoths in), the fluctuations back and forth visible in this wonderful chart. For a more compressed look at the last 400,000 years, look at this one too. It’s obvious that there is strong correlation between CO2 in the atmosphere and temperature, so if we’re pumping lots of CO2 into the atmosphere, it couldn’t possibly have an effect, right?

Frosty continues pouring on the rhetoric, essentially suggesting that because Gore didn’t mention the day global warming started in the documentary, all the science done is therefore suspect. I would like to think anyone familiar with this topic would look to the Industrial Revolution the time when humans not only pillaged the land, but dumped toxic chemicals into the air and water as well, most of the graphs I’ve seen on the subject starting in the mid-1800’s and showing marked increase in temperature to today. Some claim that we’re just in another part of a cycle, but this graph clearly shows the impact of our activity and how temperatures haven’t even been as close to the heights they are at now in the past 2,000 years. None of this data seems to suit Frosty, and it doesn’t stop him from taking potshots at geologists as well, asserting that

The Bible says the earth is about 12,000 years old? 14,000 at most? Or do you want to believe scientists who claim the earth is billions of years old, but can’t produce any thing to prove it. I mean global warming can really go back a long time ago can’t it?

Clearly Frosty has an axe to grind with nearly all the earth sciences. Moving on, he makes some rather wacky predictions about what global warming would do to the environment, arguing that it would in fact improve the world. He says

As the waters rise, what do you think will happen to the earths water temperatures? They’ll cool down the deeper they get and after the huge deposits of frozen methane are released. Water tables will rise, more heat generates more clouds, more clouds reflect and block harmful sunlight and produce more rain for crops, with the rising water tables many desserts will have the potential of being reclaimed and turned into productive fields etc… [emphasis mine]

Hooray! My comeuppance for the great ice cream reclamation is at hand! I’m no climatologist, but this doesn’t seem to make any sense at all, especially the bit about released frozen methane helping us out. The truth of the matter is that scientists are worried that increased global warming will heat up the Siberian permafrost to the point where massive amounts of methane (up to 70,000 million tonnes) would be dumped into the atmosphere and be a huge boost to the warming trend.

In the section bulleted #2, we start to get to the heart of Frosty’s issues, stating

Who are we to say that global warming is a bad thing? My opinion is change is and always has been one of mankind’s greatest fears. Before the flood aka Noah’s Ark, the whole earth was a warm tropical climate, the earth is only now returning to that.

Indeed, and Frosty’s baseless assertions are proof of his own opinion that people fear change. He also gives no facts, figures, etc. for his tropical antediluvian world, and there’s no reason to look at it as anything other than bald fallacy. Like his wife, Frosty believes that the liberal “bad america, bad america” treatment is what is driving kids to violence today:

It’s no wonder kids are shooting each other what with them living in the US and with all this blame being heaped upon them in the classrooms for being an American.

So it’s American to not care about what we do to the environment and we shouldn’t even feel the least bit guilty about the history of bloodshed and struggle we call our own. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate America, but I tire of this idea that if you don’t like something about America you should just get out. It’s no wonder the rest of the world looks down at us; I can’t stand many of my countrymen and I live here. Frosty continues to ramble on, alluding to the fallacious “War on Christmas”, possibly the Dover evolution trial, and gay marriage, capping it all off with a prophesy that we’ll all die via an impact similar to the one that marks the Cretaceous/Paleogene boundary 65 million years ago (oh wait, that couldn’t have happened because the world is only 14,000 years old, silly me).

You might want to hold onto your seats during the next part folks, as I nearly fell out of my chair laughing. And away we go

. The Bible has said for 3500 years that the end days would see global warming because the earth is under a curse because of mankind turning away from the one true God. Like it or not, It’s going to happen and like it or not the people CAN NOT change it. I say that they cannot change it for two reasons, first If it gets changed, it will be by God’s will and that will only happen if the whole planet got baptized in the Holy Spirit and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior within the next 2 years. Second being a man of God I always try to present solutions and not just complain about things. So I present this potential solution: One way this WORLD could make a dent in what has already transpired, would be to build several huge nuclear power plants in the polar regions and install several freezer coils at the edges of the polar glaciers to begin expanding the size of the ice and begin making more ice. What are the odds of that happening? There is your “INCONVENIENT TRUTH”.

Sooo… despite global warming being a good thing to Frosty and bringing us benefit, it is also part of the curse brought upon humans by the Fall documented in the Old Testament, the only way to get God to stop turning up the heat being to convert everyone to Christianity. This runs counter to a similar argument I’ve seen that goes “Well, God is in control, so I don’t worry about global warming.” Both are equally wrong, one seeing environmental catastrophe as God’s judgment and the other doing nothing because God wouldn’t let such disaster strike the world, right? In addition to being an earth scientist, Frosty apparently knows about nuclear physics and the effects of nuclear power plants on the environment as well, because as we all know no heat, pollution, or contamination results from nuclear power at all. This is about as sensible as dropping a big ice cube in the ocean “every now and then” as in the Futurama clip Gore uses in his documentary.

Towards the end Frosty seems to get confused, charging that global warming is not only an unstoppable juggernaut caused by God’s wrath but that it is caused by misrepresentation of the public by lobbyists for big industries. Needless to say, this is the most confused, baseless rant I have seen in a long time written by someone with a political and philosophical agenda to push forward (Frostly would probably say the same of me), sadly robbing plenty of students from seeing a film that makes all the “talk” of global warming more real. I’m all for discussion and the film is not without flaw, but as I mentioned earlier this “controversy” seems to run parallel (and even is often associated with) the evolution/ID debate. Students are being misled because a vocal minority have their personal ideas offended at the prospect of being related to great apes or realizing that driving a gas-guzzling SUV (with a “Support Our Troops” magnet ribbon on) is helping add to the global warming problem.

I wish I could be more kind and level-headed during these sorts of posts, but I really can’t. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but when I’m confronted with an injustice like this one I really can’t stand it. If Frosty wants to believe that nuclear power plants and world baptism can stop or stem global warming, it’s insane but it’s his own private view. The second he takes those unfounded views and starts pushing them on students who will have to face up to what we’ve done to the planet, however, that’s a tragedy. It’ll be interesting to see how this all develops (if it does any further), but it seems that the school board is apt to keep parroting “teach the controversy” rather than do anything constructive about the students education. Since when did being a board official mean foisting your own ideals on the students, especially when it does a disservice to them?


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19 09 2011
Katharine Jennison

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