Putting aside the Science

Activist educators embrace Climate Theology

by John McClaughry

In this era dominated by aggressive steps to deal with “climate change”, it’s worth inquiring into what the climate activists are working to install in our public school system, presumably to lead their pupils into supporting a long list of policies on the climate change agenda.

This is not a new thought. As far back as 2007, a Governor’s Commission on Climate Change called for “promoting enormous systemic and long term cultural, cross-generational change in our awareness and behavior through the efforts of our formalized K-12 public and private school systems.”


A year later VPIRG, backed by Senate President Peter Shumlin, was busily promoting what I then labelled an “Extreme Green Makeover”. Its central feature was one form or another of a carbon tax, to rid us of the fossil fuels that the backers believed to be driving the planet to “Al Gore’s Heat Death”.

Their legislation also called for a “public education and engagement framework to encourage behavior change”, through “social marketing strategies with broad ethical goals.” An example: “in-depth, science-based in-school programs on energy efficiency and climate change at all levels.”  “Behavior change” apparently means awakening schoolchildren to the menace of climate change and stimulating their opposition to the continued use of fossil fuel energy.

A drastically watered down version of the Shumlin bill eventually passed (Act 209), but it did not include the promotion of climate theology in the schools.

Three years later Shumlin, by then Governor, supported a bill calling for an all-out taxpayer-financed “climate change educational campaign”, through which the next generation of Vermonters would be thoroughly indoctrinated in apocalyptic climate theology. This was apparently designed to reduce resistance to the increasingly desperate tax and regulatory schemes that were and are likely to be needed to push Vermont to Gov. Shumlin’s declared (but never legislated) goal of 90% of the state’s energy produced by renewables by 2050.

The legislature enacted the 2020 The Global Warming Solutions Act over Gov. Scott’s veto. The law set deep mandatory reductions on carbon dioxide emissions, attaining an 80% reduction by 2050. It also created a Vermont Climate Council to direct the executive branch to regulate and subsidize our pathway to that shining goal. Fifteen of the VCC’s 23 members answered to somebody other than Gov. Scott, who was increasingly concerned about the effects of all this on Vermont’s economy.

In its 2021 Climate Action Plan, the Council recommended “amend(ing) the Vermont State Board of Education’s Education Quality Standards to incorporate environmental and climate change education at all grade levels”.

Meanwhile in 2013 the Agency of Education became one of 20 lead states in creating the Next Generation Science Standards for public schools. A quick perusal of those Standards reveals a number of useful techniques for strengthening science understanding. This would be commendable – unless the climate activists pushing for ever more desperate emissions reductions can get into the process and inject their political views.

That is exactly what has happened in Washington state, where Gov. Jay Inslee (D) considers himself a national environmental leader. Todd Myers of the Washington Policy Institute has sounded a warning. A lifelong environmentalist, Myers is the author of a very interesting book titled Time to Think Small: How nimble environmental technologies can solve the planet’s biggest problems (2022). It outlines how small-scale technologies are empowering people to protect threatened wildlife species, reduce CO2 emissions, and reduce ocean plastic.

In a recent article Myers quotes Washington’s purportedly scientific curriculum document as saying that “we must learn to pay attention to our own emotions and those of other people…” “It also threatens to fundamentally undermine the scientific process, turning the word ‘science’ from an open discussion of facts into an empty political slogan than means whatever politicians want.”

The document goes on to insist that scientific assessment must be “contextualized” so that it promotes environmental justice and “equitable discourse”. The document also advises setting aside data in favor of “community wisdom”, that is, “listen to our emotions even if they contradict science.”

The current state budget requires the superintendent of public instruction to “integrate climate change content into Washington state learning standards across subject areas and grade levels’’… requiring that the lessons be “action oriented”.  This, Myers, says, is “political indoctrination masquerading as school curricula… It is manipulative and shameful.”

How far has Vermont gone down this road? Given the 15 years of urgent effort by the climate activists , one may suspect that they have been at work here as well. The AoEd web site offers the thought that “achieving equity and social justice in science education is an ongoing challenge,” which suggests infusing science standards with political goals is proceeding apace.  

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute (www.ethanallen.org)

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6 replies »

  1. The vilification of carbon is astounding. It is a necessary gas not something that should be feared and to which we should apply arbitrary limits. No one knows what the optimal carbon saturation of the atmosphere should be and they should stop pretending. The entire carbon focus is just another scam for taxation and the concentration and centralization of power. That we include such unscientific notions in our school curricula is one of the many failures of our educational system; a system which seems to focus not on basic subjects and and critical thinking skills, but rather on an unquestioning acceptance of the narratives and agendas of unelected bureaucrats. Whenever one witnesses the abject assault on questioning and offering alternative views, one should question the motives of those assaulting non conforming ideas. Science thrives in an atmosphere of questioning, discussion, debate, the sharing of raw data. Science dies when these are restricted and limited. One need only to look at history to find blatant examples of criminalizing thought and the presentation of actual facts that do not support heavily promoted narratives.

    • I agree 100%. But the masses have to learn that whatever is said in favor of a leftist agenda is always the opposite. “Convid-19 is causing a pandemic!” means no, convid-19 vaccines are the cause of the real pandemic. “Trust the science!” means you’re being lied to. Follow this simple “opposite” rule and you’ll be right in the end 99 times out of 100.

      It’s so sad how things have devolved in this country in the past 35 years.

  2. Ah, the party of “follow the science.” Here’s the thing – science is rarely settled. And “selective” science – the fabricated type that most progressives & Democrats seem to follow – is only science if the theories or hypotheses fit their personal narratives. Hence, they cannot accept that males cannot become females or vice-versa, or even that males cannot bear children. They cannot accept that climate change has been a naturally occurring phenomenon, according to archeological records, since the beginning of time. They cannot accept that science is now evidencing the reality of both the writings contained within the Bible and the existence of God, etc. etc.

    Democrats largely do NOT follow the science.

    So much for THAT theory.

    • The goal of “follow the science” remember Fauci (I only bring him up because he should be in the forefront of our memory) ; where carbon is a bad word, even though it is an element created by God to sustain life on every level.
      I remember John Colman, who was the creator of THE WEATHER CHANNEL. When much of this so called science pushed by Gore started to show it’s ugly head. Colman looked at the data Gore was pushing. It was old data, that was proved to to be false. Gore never did his own research. He just regurgitated old faulty data. However John Colman took another look at the data, but the models didn’t line up with the facts. So he shared that on The Weather Channel with explanation as to why the models didn’t agree to the new fake science. Colman was told by the U.S. Government to be quiet. LET ME SAY THAT AGAIN – Colman was told by the U.S. Government to be quiet ! Apparently, John Colman had a backbone and integrity, because he would not lie to the people, and continued showing the real science in the face of faulty models used to create a lie. All of a sudden, the investors of The Weather Channel asked Colman to resign from the channel he created. Was the government involved ; only someone who has common sense can answer that question ? One thing I remember a scientist say before Colman left the show (his face was blacked out and his voice was modified) because of fear of the U.S. Government, ” If there is no significant global warming, there is no money to be made. However, if there is global warming it will cost billions perhaps trillions of dollars to address. If the lie about global warming, there are many who will get VERY rich.”
      Things to think about going forward today :

      1)What is the air quality in Vermont in 2023 in comparison to the other 49 states.
      2)What are countries with the greatest population doing about this.
      3) Are there scientist out there who don’t agree with the carbon emissions data
      4) Why would they push an initiative in schools.
      5) Why is the World Economic Forum in the middle of this.

  3. Thank you once again John for putting sunlight where it needs to go. Leftists claim to invoke “science” and “truth” until it interferes with their political objectives. That applies to climate, gender and viral pandemics…have I left anything out?

  4. Lordy, lordy, lordy. I am so tired of the mantra of “the sky is falling”. Climate change, once was global warming until it wasn’t. On and on. If any of these so-called experts would care to spend one minute reading actual research and using their common sense (oops, I forgot it was in short supply), they would figure out that we are being lied to. The actual science is pointing in the opposite direction. We are being force-fed lies to enhance a small number people in politics and riches. It is so sad to see the state I love, the state my grandfather raised a family in after fighting in the Battle of Bennington, this beautiful green piece of God’s Earth, be overtaken by city folk who are beyond stupid but wow, do they ever love power and enjoy telling us what to do. We Vermonters are peaceloving and very forgiving of neighbors who don’t recognize the south end of a cow. Be careful though, we Vermonters will only take just so much.