It seems that a high school in Choteau, Montana thinks the best way to educate its students is to deny them the unique and rare opportunity to hear what a Nobel laureate has to say about global warming. What are they afraid of – that some students might actually be persuaded that global warming is real? Are they afraid that some students might come to question why more isn’t being done to protect their future from climate change?
The New York Times today reported that Nobel Laureate Steven W Running’s scheduled talk before 130 high school students was canceled after a few local conservative citizens complained to the school board and school superintendent.
Dr Running is a Professor of Ecology at the University of Montana. He was “a lead author” of the Report on Global Warming done by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that won the Nobel Peace Prize 2007. The IPCC shared the Nobel Prize with Al Gore.
As noted by the Norwegian Nobel Committee in selecting the Intergovernmental Committee on Climate Change to receive its Nobel Peace Prize for 2007:
“Indications of changes in the earth’s future climate must be treated with the utmost seriousness, and with the precautionary principle uppermost in our minds. Extensive climate changes may alter and threaten the living conditions of much of mankind. They may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth’s resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world’s most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states.
Through the scientific reports it has issued over the past two decades, the IPCC has created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming. Thousands of scientists and officials from over one hundred countries have collaborated to achieve greater certainty as to the scale of the warming. Whereas in the 1980s global warming seemed to be merely an interesting hypothesis, the 1990s produced firmer evidence in its support. In the last few years, the connections have become even clearer and the consequences still more apparent.”
Most high schools would view the opportunity to hear a Nobel Laureate speak as a great educational learning experience. And certainly most speaking engagements give an opportunity for students to ask questions. But if schools operated on the principle that if anyone in the community disagreed with a proposed speaker, he or she couldn’t speak, then the probability is that schools would never be having any guest speakers.
Sticking your head in the sand on global warming isn’t going to change the reality. Some people in Montana still need to realize that global warming will affect them also – that the world global means just that. Like it or not, it includes Montana. Global warming, if not brought into check, will have major impacts on Montana farmers and ranchers and conservatives. Global warming will not discriminate as to whether someone is conservative or liberal. It will affect us all.