District 51 shouldn’t warm to this idea

Here’s an idea: Let’s stop teaching our children the heliocentric theory of our solar system. After all, we haven’t actually traveled enough in space to prove that the Earth and other planets revolve around the sun.

Oh wait. The Roman Catholic Church already tried to halt the spread of that once-heretical notion. Back in the 17th century, the church placed Galileo Galilei under house arrest for eight years because he taught the doctrine that the sun is the center of the solar system. Eventually, Galileo publicly recanted his belief.

Perhaps if Rose Pugliese and a few hundred other folks in School District 51 have their way, we’ll witness the spectacle of local science teachers recanting their belief in the notion of man-made global warming.

But we hope not. We hope the District 51 School Board has already dismissed the idea of taking action on Pugliese’s petition to stop teaching global warming in the district.

Yes, there are skeptics about all or parts of the idea of man-made climate change — some of them very prominent scientists.

And it’s true there have been scandals involving some proponents of climate change theory who allegedly manipulated data to make their arguments appear stronger or attempted to suppress the work of skeptics. Also, the United Nations panel on climate change clearly included inaccurate information about receding glaciers, rising sea levels and more in its most recent report.

As we have said before, this sort of manipulation and misrepresentation does the science of climate change no good, either when it comes to public opinion or political action.

However, these missteps don’t prove climate-change science wrong. The idea that chemicals released by human activities are warming the Earth is the most widely accepted scientific explanation of what has happened to Earth’s climate in recent decades, and what may occur in the future. To declare our children shouldn’t be taught about this globally accepted phenomenon and the science that supports it is the worst sort of head-in-the-sand philosophy.

Scientific inquiry is about exploring the world in search of evidence-based explanations for what occurs. Telling teachers and students they can’t follow one path of inquiry because someone objects to it is no way to encourage scientific curiosity.

We agree with Pugliese that teachers shouldn’t be classroom evangelists for their political views. They should let students know there is dispute in the scientific community about climate change.

But it is equally noxious to have one group of citizens attempt to dictate what may be taught in science classes in the district, based on what they think is politically appropriate.


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