(Feb. 4, 2010) Editor’s note: Lawrence Solomon’s column, Keeping Canadian Students In The Dark On Climate, provoked some interesting responses on our online blog, FP Comment, and the National Post’s editorial blog, Full Comment. Some have been reproduced below. They have been edited for grammar. Real names, where available, have been used, but some are signed only with online handles.
There has been one formal debate at the University of Western Ontario between myself, Prof. Graham Smith, and Prof. Gordon McBean, both of the geography deptartment. I myself was on the skeptical side and McBean, as an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change participant, argued in favour of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). As with all such debates, the skeptical side won, but did little to alter the prevailing mindset.
Most of my students have seen Gore’s movie at least three times by the time they get to 2nd year university. Until my course, they are unaware of any counter arguments and have not seen any films other than Gore’s, not the Great Global Warming Swindle nor Not Evil Just Wrong. The record was one poor student who had been shown Gore’s film seven times.
The overwhelming mantra remains AGW and the implications of Climategate and the data scandals revealed by the audit activities of Climate Audit and Watts Up With That are dismissed as irrelevancies. It is not possible to overstate the level with which the dogma of AGW is all pervasive and stifling. In 2008, after I gave a talk to alumni dismissing AGW as an eco-myth, I was publicly castigated in the campus newspaper and McBean reacted with a letter (for which he had signed support) calling for censure of both mine and any future contrary perspectives on campus.
My reaction has been to publish my blog, ecomyths, to continue to talk to all groups who do have open minds and to teach ever increasing numbers of undergraduates who vote with their feet and do search out perspectives and different ideologies. My teaching ratings remain the highest in my department and I have received multiple awards for teaching excellence.
The problem is not with inquiring, young minds but with atrophied, closed-minded incumbents of ivory towers (who would never, ever read the Post!).
Graham Smith, professor of geography, University of Western Ontario.
My son took a course at the University of British Columbia last year, his freshman year, on how global warming is man-made. The so-called “professor” was completely doctrinaire. She began the course by airing An Inconvenient Truth and hammered away throughout the semester on the catastrophic evils of industrialization. Dissenting views were neither considered nor tolerated in the “discussions” that followed. Al Gore was her messiah. Students regurgitated her point of view to pass. I was appalled.
Once upon a time, intellectual honesty was the hallmark of the academy in Canada. That was the noble standard during my seven wonderful years at two Canadian universities. Sadly however, that noble standard has been abandoned; at least at UBC. Higher education is precisely about controversy and dissent, not the promulgation of dogma and intolerance.
That someone so intellectually bankrupt has standing at Westbrook’s glorious old institution is pure travesty. Shame on UBC.
I was recently asked to give the skeptic side of AGW to an adult learning class. The teacher had been giving the class the dogma, right from the Ontario Ministry of Education textbook. All the class were believers of the faith.
I started by writing on the board, “Is there anything in the climate today that is beyond normal variation?” I had the class give the classic list of alarmist items.
I then spent the next two hours going through the actual evidence of each with references to peer reviewed papers.
By the end of the session we had crossed out every single item on their list and the class including the teacher, agreed AGW is a scam. They are all outraged that thay have been had by the AGW True Believers.
I’ve been asked to come back for the next class.
I am not in the least surprised Lawrence Solomon had no skeptics in the audience, though I believe there are probably many at the university. The issues with climate change are scientific issues. The students at a university who study things like physics, mathematics and engineering and hence understand the science of global warming, have a very heavy workload and don’t go to things like this debate. Your audience was almost certainly populated by polisci and history majors who relish in and are great at debating. People in science don’t believe in political debates about science.
The truth will come out in time. Truth doesn’t care about the quality of one’s argument or how well one swayed the audience. Truth is not a liberal or conservative. If an argument is wrong, it will eventually be shown to be wrong. It may take 40 years like the Piltdown man, or 30 years like global warming, but truth will come out.
Let’s not fool ourselves about Canadian universities. They are not places of original thought, they are places where professors regularly ram politically correct dogma down the throats of students. The unfortunate thing is that kids today are being brainwashed all the way from kindergarten to university. Have you ever noticed the eco-art that is made by these kids and posted in public places? It’s all about the green religion. Don’t get me wrong on this, caring for the planet is important but you can be sure that these kids are being force fed a lot of tripe about AGW.
I think it is time to clean house in the education system from elementary school right through to university. If we don’t then we will continue to see the kids coming out of these institutes parroting what the social engineers deem acceptable.