Dumb and dumber

(Come friend Aunt Ruthie on Facebook and let’s hang out.)

Never mind that it’s the end of the world as we know it (and Aunt R. feels crappy): Climate change is here to stay. You know this not just because it’s all over the Web and the floor of Congress and the Nightly News with Brian Williams or because Bill McKibben says so. You know it because it’s now in the classroom, and the dumbed-down debate between deniers and the scientific community can take place in front of the kids. Oh, good.

The Los Alamitos Unified School District Board of Education in SoCal demanded that a new high-school science class must teach “both sides” of global warming, with board member Jeffrey Barke noting for the Los Alamitos-Seal Beach Patch, “There are hundreds of reputable scientists, such as Bjørn Lomborg and Ian Plimer, who deny the causes and concerns of global warming.” Lomborg doesn’t say that (it’s complicated); Pilmer is a quack.

Good work. Home economics should teach both sides of waffles. Physical education should teach both sides of basketball (the jump shot and the air ball—and please, no valuing one over the other). Sex education should teach the joys and risks of hand-holding and sadomasochism. From here, we move onto the Holocaust and whether or not Bill Murray was the first man to walk on the moon. (He must have walked lunarly in, oh, Space Jam. Eh?)

And then there’s beloved Scholastic magazine—home to Clifford the Big Red Dog and The Magic School Bus—taking money from the American Coal Foundation to produce worksheets and maps called the “United States of Energy,” educational materials which “do not mention damage from mining or pollution.”

“The pictured miner doesn’t have a smudge of coal dust. The power plant has no smokestack. An attractive map highlights top coal-producing states. Solar power shows up only once—in the desert.” The superb Living on Earth on Public Radio International went on recently to note that the American Coal Foundation’s blog says, “Four out of five parents know and trust the Scholastic brand.” The news isn’t all bad. Scholastic announced subsequent to their radio show’s airing that they have “no plans to further distribute this particular program.”

And for every such stumble, there is a step forward: CoolCalifornia.org just awarded $4,000 to three high schools for exemplary enviro projects. While Sacramento-area school participation was minimal, Aunt Ruth just knows the capital region will do better in 2012. Ab-so-lewt-leee.