“When I look back on all the shit I learned in high school/ It’s a wonder I can think at all.” Paul Simon
Cheer up. Those dismal test scores you read about? Tests prove nothing. America falling to 18th out of 24 in Unicef’s language/science/math literacy rankings for “rich” countries? Clearly an anti-American bias in the methodology. Low graduation rates, chronic absenteeism? Temporary growing pains of a more diverse citizenry. All is well, thanks to our Secretary of Energy, Mr. Stephen Chu, who can focus on the real issues that confront education. And what is chief among them? Well, the Wall Street Journal reports
Dr. Chu said he didn’t think average folks had the know-how or will to to change their behavior enough to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. “The American public…just like your teenage kids, aren’t acting in a way that they should act,” Dr. Chu said.
So…what to do about these recalcitrant “average folks?” Well, sic their kids on them. After all, if the majority of Americans refuse to confirm the settled science of global warming, then maybe indoctrinating their little ones will help persuade them. Listen to Secretary Chu’s marvelously eloquent, carefully-reasoned and hilariously revealing explanation:
So now, the state of Maryland, first in the hearts of its citizens and 26th in the nation in literacy, has determined that it will become the first state in the Union to mandate proficiency in “Green” before conferring a high school diploma. Reports the PJTatler:
In an historic vote today, the Maryland State Board of Education provided specific guidance to all public schools to require that each student be environmentally literate before he or she graduates from high school. The vote cements Maryland as the first state in the country to approve a graduation requirement in environmental literacy, a credit to Governor O’Malley, to board members, and to Dr. Nancy Grasmick, State Superintendent of Schools.
Now, what comprises “environmental literacy?” Well, once again, the DOE to the rescue. They have created a cute little eight-page tutorial and test, which includes stunners like this:
For the last 150 years, the Industrial Revolution has been thumbing its nose at Mother Nature and now is literally choking on its own exhaust. The result is the infamous “Greenhouse Effect” and global warming.
Global warming has been a source of controversy within the scientific community for many years. After many investigations, it is now well-documented and accepted as fact [emphasis ours].
It is now commonly accepted that global warming is occurring. Debate now centers around on how much humans are influencing global climatic cycles. What biases may cause scientists to interpret the same data in different ways? Consider whom scientists work for and where their funding comes from.
Of, course, that last sentence, designed to suggest that all AGW skeptics are on the take from energy interests may backfire on them, should little Jennie ask “Teacher, who pays the global warming scientists?”
But balance is our byword, and we do find a bright spot in this miserable miasma of outright lies, fascist-level propaganda and Orwellian doublespeak:
ADDING UP THE CO2 YOU SPEW
Figure out your share of the number of liters of gasoline that you burn riding around in cars. To do this, figure the distance (miles or kilometers) you traveled and divide this by the fuel economy of the vehicle. For example, if you and one other person drive 60 kilometers to school each week in a car that gets 20 km/L, then the car consumed three liters of gasoline and your share would be half of that—because two were riding in the car—or about 1.5 liters. You also can simplify this by taking an average figure for your family car—most families average about 30,000 kilometers each year. Each liter contributes 2.5 kg of CO2. You can convert gallons to liters by multiplying by 3.67, and miles to kilometers by multiplying by 1.61.
Number of liters of gasoline ___________ x 2.5 kg CO2/liter = ________kg CO2
Calculate the number of kilowatt-hours of electricity that you use in a year. Take the number of kilowatt-hours from an average monthly utility bill, multiply it by 12, and divide by the number of people in your family. Using one kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity generated in a coal-fired power plant produces 0.9 kg of CO2. (Hydropower and nuclear generated electricity are CO2-free; your local power company can tell you how your electricity is generated.)
Avg. monthly kWh of electricity _____ x 12 / _______ people in household
x 0.9 kg CO2/kWh = _____ kg CO2
Figure out how much natural gas you use (if any). One therm of natural gas produces about 15.5 kg of CO2. (1 therm = 1 ccf, or 100,000 Btu or 105 MJ.) Check your gas bill and again divide by the number of people in your household.
Number therms of gas_________ x 15.5 kg/therm = ___________kg CO2
Flying one kilometer on an airplane produces about 0.3 kg of CO2
Number of kilometers flown_________ x 0.3 kg/kilometer = __________ kg CO2
Add up 1 through 4 for your direct CO2 production. TOTAL _______________kg CO2
Double the answer from question 5 to account for the CO2 produced indirectly through the things that you have bought and the services you have used (like going to the movies).
Total from #5 ____________ x 2 = _____________ kg CO2
Congratulations! That’s your CO2 quotient. How do you compare to the “average” North American who contributes 16,500 kg of CO2 to our atmosphere?
Frankly, we don’t think most of the nation’s stockbrokers could pass a test with this much math. If Maryland’s kids can do it, we salute them, because that will mean they are at least smart enough to know when they are being peddled a load of horseshit. Kids in school are used to hearing the most preposterous things, mostly from other kids — things which are refuted by the daily evidence of their own eyes — so I have some confidence that they will know nonsense when they hear it. Trying to persuade high schoolers that America is a beastly, selfish hog wallowing in the stench of its own fumes — as this charming document does in one section — may work with some, but, Secretary Chu’s Pollyanna daydreams not withstanding — a great many of them will most likely be thinking that the Secretary is full of methane.
We don’t suggest that we shouldn’t be trying to become more energy-efficient. Nor that we should not be seeking to develop petroleum alternatives. But the notion that we should be spending money to turn our kids into Gorezombies chanting “”Save the planet” when the same funds could be applied to remedial programs for the rather embarrassingly high percentage of young Marylanders who can’t do the math in this test, or easily understand the sentences in it — that’s Goebbels stuff, and Secretary Chu should be held to account for trying to run it past us. And using children deliberately as propaganda tools against their own parents is a practice employed by regimes whose stains on the fabric of history are indelible and foul — a direction this administration, with its disregard for individual rights and the Constitution already dangerously close to the tolerable limit, would do well to abjure.
These kids have enough to do to try to get through the life ahead of them without freighting their educations with political baggage, wasting their time with “science” that is as unsettled as its less rational acolytes are unsettling, and ramming it all down the throats of parents who have little recourse for protest or redress.