Quantcast

Idaho Lawmakers Strike Climate Change Language From New Science Standards

Climate

The Idaho House Education Committee voted 12-4 Wednesday on a motion to strip references to human-caused climate change in the state's proposed new science education standards.

The motion, proposed by Rep. Scott Syme, R-Caldwell, strikes a section* from the Idaho Content Standards that includes the language: "energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and their uses affect the environment." Several paragraphs of "Supporting Content"** that delves further into climate science were deleted as well.


Boise Republican Rep. Patrick McDonald, the committee's vice chairman, joined the panel's three Democrats that opposed the motion to scrub climate-related passages from the standards.

"I want to support these standards as written," McDonald said, referring to the work that local teachers put in developing the standards. "What I don't want to do is not support them. There has been a lot work involved in putting these things together."

Idaho is the only state in the nation where legislators have removed references to the established science of climate change and the impact of human activity on the environment from the K-12 science curricula. That decision sparked an ardent effort from teachers, parents and students across Idaho who want to revise public school education standards to include climate science.

At a two-day hearing before the Idaho House Education Committee last week, 29 people testified in favor of revisions. Roughly 1,000 public comments were also submitted in favor of the revisions.

"We're here today not just for those students in classrooms across our state but for tomorrow's nurses, farmers, lawmakers, bankers and citizens who deserve the very best science and science education—not some water-downed censored version," said Dick Jordan, a retired high school science teacher at the hearing. "We cannot ignore science even if it makes us uncomfortable."

But many Republican lawmakers contend that the science on climate change is not settled. As the New York Times pointed out, only 24 percent of Idaho Republicans agree in human-caused climate change, the lowest percentage in the country.

Rep. Julie VanOrden (R-Pingree), who chairs the Idaho House Education Committee, dismissed arguments about the topic during the hearings last week.

"We are not having a hearing on climate change," VanOrden said continually. "We're here to address the changes made in the standards, not climate change."

Rep. Syme also argued that the revised standards would force students to come to a particular conclusion rather than draw their own, ThinkProgress reported.

"When we heard all the testimony, it was clear that all the students want to do inquiry and all the teachers want to move to this inquiry based type of learning and I think that is just spectacular," he said Wednesday. "My problem with the one paragraph was that it lead to conclusions. When you have conclusions in standards, it stifles inquiry."

(Syme has even said previously that he does not care if students think the Earth is flat as long as it was the student's own conclusion.)

Of course, the overwhelming majority of climate scientists say that burning fossil fuels emits greenhouse gases that drives the rise in global temperatures.

The new science education standards do not force Idaho's teachers to omit climate science from their lesson plans. However, as the Times noted, "science educators said they were concerned for teachers in districts where climate change was considered more controversial."

The vote now goes to the Senate Education Committee, where members can undo the House panel's decision.

*Here's the section that House Ed. members removed:

ESS3-4-1 Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and their uses affect the environment. Further explanation: Examples of renewable energy resources could include wind energy, water behind dams, and sunlight; non-renewable energy resources are fossil fuels and atomic energy. Examples of environmental effects could include negative biological impacts of wind turbines, erosion due to deforestation, loss of habitat due to dams, loss of habitat due to surface mining, and air pollution from burning of fossil fuels."

**And here is some of the "Supporting Content" that the committee also voted to remove:

"ESS3.A: Natural Resources: Energy and fuels that humans use are derived from natural sources, and their use affects the environment in multiple ways. Some resources are renewable over time, and others are not. (ESS3-4-1)

ESS3.B: Natural Hazards: A variety of hazards result from natural processes (e.g., earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions). Humans cannot eliminate the hazards but can take steps to reduce their impacts. (ESS3-4-2)

ETS1.B: Designing Solutions to Engineering Problems: Testing a solution involves investigating how well it performs under a range of likely conditions. (ESS3-4-2)"

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

David Gilmour performs at Anfiteatro Scavi di Pomei on July 7, 2016 in Pompei, Italy. Francesco Prandoni / Redferns / Getty Images

David Gilmour, guitarist, singer and songwriter in the rock band Pink Floyd, set a record last week when he auctioned off 126 guitars and raised $21.5 million for ClientEarth, a non-profit environmental law group dedicated to fighting the global climate crisis, according to CNN.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue speaks during a forum April 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

The Trump administration ratcheted up its open hostility to climate science in a move that may hide essential information from the nation's farmers.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Zero Waste Kitchen Essentials

Simple swaps that cut down on kitchen trash.

Sponsored

By Kayla Robbins

Along with the bathroom, the kitchen is one of the most daunting areas to try and make zero waste.

Read More Show Less
Protestors and police stand on ether side of railway tracks. dpa / picture-alliance

Police have cleared 250 climate activists who stayed overnight at the Garzweiler brown coal mine in western Germany, officials said Sunday.

Read More Show Less
Cecilie_Arcurs / E+ / Getty Images

By Megan Jones and Jennifer Solomon

The #MeToo movement has caused profound shake-ups at organizations across the U.S. in the last two years. So far, however, it has left many unresolved questions about how workplaces can be more inclusive and equitable for women and other diverse groups.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Cigarette butts are the most-littered item found at beach clean ups. John R. Platt

By Tara Lohan

By now it's no secret that plastic waste in our oceans is a global epidemic. When some of it washes ashore — plastic bottles, plastic bags, food wrappers — we get a stark reminder. And lately one part of this problem has been most glaring to volunteers who comb beaches picking up trash: cigarette butts.

Read More Show Less

Andrea Rodgers, second from the right, takes notes during a hearing in the Juliana v. U.S. case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland, Oregon on June 4. Colleague Elizabeth Brown sits to her left, while colleague Julia Olson sits on her right, with co-council Philip Gregory on Julia's right. Robin Loznak / Our Children's Trust

By Fran Korten

On June 4, Andrea Rodgers was in the front row of attorneys sitting before a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court. The court session, held in Portland, Oregon, was to determine whether the climate change lawsuit (Juliana v. United States) brought by 21 young plaintiffs should be dismissed, as requested by the U.S. government, or go on to trial.

Read More Show Less
Seventy Extinction Rebellion protesters were arrested outside The New York Times building Saturday. SCOOTERCASTER / YouTube screenshot

Seventy Extinction Rebellion protesters were arrested outside The New York Times building Saturday as they demanded the paper improve its coverage of the climate crisis, Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less