Commentary

Do America’s Science Teachers and Students Need a Ministry of Truth on Climate Change?

E. Calvin Beisner
By E. Calvin Beisner | June 14, 2017 | 3:53 PM EDT

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (Flickr Photo/Labeled for Reuse)

Four liberal Democratic Senators—Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Brian Schatz (HI), and Edward Markey (MA)—are upset because Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement an “example of his commitment to rolling back the unrealistic and overreaching regulatory actions by the previous Administration.”

Thank heavens! These gallant Senators, painstakingly working to protect the American people, have taken heroic action to set DeVos straight! How would truth survive without them?

“This is a quick about-face from your nomination hearing … ,” they said in a letter to DeVos on June 7. “When Senator Whitehouse asked you in January about your views on human-caused climate change, you answered: ‘The Department of Education does not have any jurisdiction over climate change or climate issues so, if confirmed, I would respectfully defer to my colleagues in other agencies … on these issues. Additionally, the Department of Education is prohibited from dictating curricula in our nation’s schools so I respectfully defer to state and local school districts about what they will or will not teach.’ Between January and last week, you apparently decided to present your views on an issue over which your department ‘does not have any jurisdiction.’ In doing so you landed squarely on the side that argues, incorrectly [as these four Senators are qualified to judge, all having earned Ph.D.’s in climatology—ooops, I just checked and found none does—anyway, back to what they said], that climate change science is not settled.”

Hold on a minute. The Senators are upset because DeVos voiced support for her boss’s policy decision? They imply that she went back on a commitment she made during her confirmation hearing?

Just what was her commitment? To “defer to [her] colleagues in other agencies” about climate change. Well, her colleagues in other agencies hold various positions on climate change and disagreed among each other on whether to withdraw from the Paris accord, but some supported the President’s decision—particularly the one who heads the most relevant agency, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. And her boss, and theirs, made his decision.

So she kept her word.

What more could the Senators want? Boot licking?

Nonetheless, they wrote demanding that she tell them whether she or her department have “had contact with individuals associated with the Heartland Institute on climate, science, or science education issues,” and demanding copies of any such correspondence.

The Senators, quick to protect impressionable children from debate in our government-run schools (from which they might learn to weigh opposing arguments and become less docile proletarians), told DeVos that PBS Frontline “reported that the Heartland Institute is distributing factually inaccurate and scientifically illegitimate materials on climate change to upwards of 200,000 public school science teachers.”

That cannot be tolerated! After all, what if some of those science teachers (who presumably know more science than the Senators) were to be persuaded? (Ignore the fact that, as Heartland President Joseph Bast pointed out in a response, “the number of public school science teachers is considerably less than 200,000.” Are the Senators distributing factually inaccurate and scientifically illegitimate material?)

Rest easy, Americans. Your schools, your children, and the future of your country and planet are safe in the hands of these four Ministers of Truth. Valiant champions of the freedoms of speech and press guaranteed in the First Amendment, they would never dream of interfering in anyone’s exercise of those rights.

Except that that’s exactly what their letter to DeVos implicitly does. And more to the point, Whitehouse has called for RICO investigations of those who question the alleged scientific consensus on climate change, a call in response to which some liberal Democrat state attorneys general founded “Attorneys General United for Clean Power” in a potentially felonious attempt to “injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person … in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same,” for which you could be fined or imprisoned up to ten years, or both (18 U.S.C. 241)

E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., is Founder and National Spokesman of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation and a scholar on the application of Biblical worldview, theology, and ethics to economics, government, and public policy. He has studied the science and economics of climate change and climate policy for over twenty years and has spoken on it for the Vatican, committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and several of the International Conferences on Climate Change.

Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.