'According to Wrightstone, we should be communicating to young people that life is better than it’s ever been before. Earth is thriving, prospering, greening and benefiting from that growth. We have longer life expectancies; our food production is outpacing population growth. Air is getting cleaner. Our water is cleaner. Droughts and fires are in decline. Humanity and the earth are thriving and prospering which is in contrast to what we are being told and we just don’t see it. There’s an unrelenting barrage day after day of incorrect information that fits political ideologies and narratives, but it just isn’t correct science.'


Monday, 3 June 2013

'Facts, Not Fear': helping parents drive out fears of global catastrophe from children misled by their schools.

Facts, Not Fear is inevitably out of date, so why promote it here? 

Since it was published in 1996 and 1999, the harm caused by environmental alarmism has arguably increased.  For example, in the UK we have seen a Labour government actively engage in promoting climate alarmism in schools, and the impact of diverting farmland to produce bio-fuels has been tragic on a large scale for the world's poorest people.  At the same time, the case for alarm over carbon dioxide has gone from weak to even weaker.  For example, global mean temperature has doggedly refuse to rise along with the continued rise in carbon dioxide levels, and the computer modellers have had to revise their talk, and their projections, to admit a lower ‘climate sensitivity’.

Even though the case for alarm may soon become widely recognised as inadequate as a basis for policy-making, or indeed most anything else, there will remain the task of cleaning up school curricula tainted by it, and doing something to help children disturbed by it.  This book provides an excellent starting point for both.  I hope the book will be updated and re-published, and it seems all but inevitable that it would be even more effective, relevant, and convincing if it were to be.

I shall do some more posts based on the book, and encourage readers to buy it pending that hoped-for new edition.

The book covers a lot of ground.  Here are the titles of the chapters and the appendices:

1.      A letter to parents. 
2.      Trendy schools.
3.      Last chance to save the planet.
4.      At odds with science.
5.      What are the costs?
6.      World population – will billions starve?
7.      Natural resources – on the way out?
8.      Canadian forests – a wasteland?
9.      The rain forest – one hundred acres a minute?
10.  North American wildlife – on the edge?
11.  Where have all the species gone?
12.  The air we breathe?
13.  A hotter planet?
14.  Sorting out ozone. 
15.  Acid rain. 
16.  Not a drop to drink? 
17.  Don’t eat that apple?
18.  A garbage crisis? 
19.  The recycling myth. 
20.  What we can do. 

A. Textbooks reviewed.
B. Environmental books for children
C. Books for a well-stocked environmental library
D. Academic and Scientific Advisory Panel

The primary authors are Michael Sanera, qualified in political science, and Jane S. Shaw, qualified in economics.  Two researchers at the Fraser Institute provided the customisation for the Canadian edition: Liv Fredricksen and Laura Jones.  Appendix D lists dozens of subject-matter experts who reviewed issue-specific chapters 6 to 19.

To give you an idea of the intentions and style of the authors, here are the last few paragraphs of Chapter 1, A Letter to Parents:  

'How can you give your children a more balanced view of environmental problems?  One way is gently to supply the information that is missing in their classrooms.  This book will give you the facts and insight into scientific controversies that are not covered in the textbooks.

Simply learning that reputable scientists often disagree with the claims of imminent catastrophe will keep your children from blindly fearing the future.  Such information will also help your children see that environmental science is a discipline that reflects scientific uncertainty and is open to continual discovery.  Your children can learn about environmental issues and develop their critical thinking skills at the same time.  As scientists do, they can collect the facts and see whether the theories that have been advanced actually fit the facts.

With this greater objectivity, students can also begin to think critically about the causes of environmental problems, and develop their understanding of human nature.  They won’t be so quick to accept the simplistic claims of catastrophic global destruction.  Your children will probably stop pestering you to take up the cause of the day, or at least they will be willing to consider that their crusade may not be for everyone.

Each chapter concludes with a few questions and answers that will help you summarise the information for your children.  Each also has activities that you and your children might like to read and perhaps try out.  The activities offer concrete evidence that supports the information in the chapter.  However, the activities are merely suggestions that make a richer experience out of a trip to the lumberyard, say, or the supermarket.  We recognise that you are a busy parent, with many goals other than teaching your children environmental science.

Unlike the authors of some environmental books for kids, we don’t expect you or your children to picket a fast-food restaurant or write a protest letter to your local politician.  We think your children should have a chance to learn about the environment rather than be mobilised into trendy campaigns.  This book will help them.’

I think it could.


Derek Tipp said...

Hi, I just came across this piece and thought it relevant to this blog. http://www.iaindale.com/posts/2013/06/03/the-intolerance-of-climate-change-zealots#comment-51adea64cb241e0b0500535c

JS said...

Thanks Derek.