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Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Los Alamitos School Board Member Makes U-Turn on Climate Change Teaching

Posted by keith on May 19th, 2011

I’ve just had a very interesting and productive email discussion with Dr Jeffrey Barke. Some of you may be familiar with his position on the teaching of climate science. Here’s some background information, from MSNBC:

LOS ALAMITOS — A new high school advanced placement class that addresses global warming has prompted the school board to start requiring teachers to present opposing views in courses that include controversial topics.

Los Alamitos Unified School district trustees unanimously agreed to update the policy on controversial issues at the request of board member Jeffrey Barke, who said he is concerned about “global warming dogma” and wants students to be offered a balanced perspective on the topic.

“There are two clearly divergent opinions on global warming,” Barke said in an interview. “There are those who believe that global warming is a fact, created by man’s impact on the environment and the consequences will be devastating. There are others on the conservative side who believe it’s much ado about nothing. It’s overhyped and politically motivated, and the science is not solid, and there’s room for more studies.”

Since news of the board’s decision was posted on a numerous national blogs, Barke said he has received more than 100 e-mails criticizing the district’s move and attacking him personally.

Los Alamitos resident J.M. Ivler, who has a daughter at the high school, did not e-mail Barke, but he was critical of the school board.

“There is consensus in the field that we have global warming happening, it is getting warmer and it is related to what we are doing to the planet,” he said. “That is not in dispute in the scientific community. It is in dispute in the political community. This is a science class. Teach science.”

Below is a word for word copy of the emails we exchanged in relation to an interview published in The Guardian yesterday. The outcome of our discussion is that he agrees (twice) that science teaching should reflect the balance of evidence in current climate science. Dr Jeffrey Barke will now need to go back to the school board and state that clearly before kids really do start thinking that science is just politics with numbers.

>>>> Dear Dr Barke
>>>> I have just read an interview between you and Leo Hickman in today’s Guardian, and have a question that Leo either left out in the printed version or did not ask. I think it should sort this out once and for all.
>>>> Would the school board be amenable to the science class teaching climate science based on the balance of information that climate scientists can attest to (rather than just “believe”)? In other words if, as I believe, the balance is between 100 and 1000 climate scientists being able to show scientifically that civilized humanity is the predominant cause of current climate change, for every 1 who opposes this view, then between 0.1% and 1% of the science class should relate the dissenting view, with the remaining 99% to 99.9% of time spent teaching the majority view.
>>>> This seems like a fair and logically inarguable outcome for a science class which, I would assume, teaches according to scientific principles.
>>>> Kind regards
>>>> Keith Farnish

>>> From: Jeff Barke
>>> Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 2:28 PM
>>> To: Keith Farnish
>>> Subject: Re: Fair Balance re Climate Change Science
>>> Facts are facts. I disagree with your premise. The following is a partial list of scientists who also disagree.
>>> Global Warming Skeptics (Scientists and Thought Leaders) partial list:
>>> Tony Abbott
>>> Don Aitkin
>>> Dennis Avery
>>> Sallie L. Baliunas
>>> Tim Ball
>>> Robert C. Balling of Arizona State University
>>> David Bellamy
>>> Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen
>>> Douglas Carswell M.P.
>>> Robert (Bob) Carter
>>> Ian Castles
>>> John R. Christy
>>> Ian Clark
>>> Alexander Cockburn
>>> Martin Cohen, and philosophical objections to the global warming theorists
>>> Joseph D’Aleo
>>> Martin Durkin
>>> Paul Driessen
>>> David Evans
>>> Ray Evans
>>> The Rt. Rev. Peter R. Forster The Bishop of Chester
>>> Stewart Franks
>>> George Fox
>>> Robert Giegengack
>>> Steve Goddard
>>> Bill Gray
>>> William Happer
>>> Chris Horner, the author of “Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming
>>> Sherwood Idso
>>> Andrei Illarionov, chief economic adviser to Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin
>>> James M. Inhofe
>>> Aynsley Kellow
>>> William Kininmonth
>>> Czech president Vaclav Klaus
>>> Donna Laframboise
>>> Lord Lawson
>>> David Legates
>>> Marlo Lewis, from the Competitive Enterprise Institute;
>>> Richard S. Lindzen
>>> Bjorn Lomborg
>>> Stephen McIntyre
>>> Ross McKitrick
>>> Patrick J. Michaels
>>> Christopher Monckton
>>> Andrew Montford
>>> Alan Moran
>>> Luboš Motl
>>> Alan Oxley
>>> Garth Paltridge
>>> Tim Patterson
>>> Roger Pielke Jr.
>>> Ian Plimer
>>> Arthur B. Robinson
>>> Frederick Seitz (deceased 2008)
>>> S. Fred Singer
>>> Willie Soon
>>> Roy Spencer
>>> Carlo Stagnaro
>>> Bob Stallman
>>> Philip Stott
>>> John H. Sununu
>>> George Taylor,
>>> Wolfgang Thüne
>>> Jan Veizer
>>> Len Walker
>>> Anthony Watts
>>> Sammy Wilson
>>> Jeffrey I. Barke, M.D.

>>> Hi Jeff
>>> I’m not sure about your list. Sammy Wilson, for instance, is a politician from Northern Ireland, Tony Abbot is an Australian politician, Lord Nigel Lawson is a politician, Martin Durkin is a journalist, Bjorn Lomborg is an economist and so on. Even Tim Ball isn’t a climate scientist, even though he claims to be (he’s a geographer).
>>> So, all I ask is that the balance of *climate scientists* be reflected in the teaching. I can’t see why you would disagree with this.
>>> Regards
>>> Keith

>> From: Jeff Barke
>> Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 3:17 PM
>> To: Keith Farnish
>> Subject: Re: Fair Balance re Climate Change Science
>> And look at all those that signed off on the IPPC position. Certainly not all “scientist.”. Answer me this why is the majority of true believers on the left if this is not a political issue and simple just scientific fact? The IPCC is a UN political body. The list I provided you includes politicians because ultimately they are the ones that determine governmental policy. To suggest that the science is settled is intellectually dishonest.
>> Jeffrey I. Barke, M.D.

>> Jeff, please could you just consider what science is – that is, after all, what this issue is about. Politicians, activists, businesspeople etc. on any side of the fence should not determine the balance of what is taught. Human biology for instance wouldn’t now be taught based on the writings of Aristotle, even if a large number of politicians agreed that it should, because Aristotle has been shown by modern science to be wrong on almost all aspects of anatomy. The same should stand for climate change in science: it should reflect the current view of climate science which is overwhelmingly on the side of anthropogenesis.
>> Anyone who suggests the science on anything is settled doesn’t understand science. That’s why I said “current view”.
>> So do you agree that climate change should reflect the views of climate scientists or not? That’s all I am asking.
>> Thanks
>> Keith

> From: Jeff Barke
> Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 3:49 PM
> To: Keith Farnish
> Subject: Re: Fair Balance re Climate Change Science
> Agree. But what I do not think you realize is the large number of main stream scientists that are skeptics and their work is not reported by the media.
> Jeffrey I. Barke, M.D.

> That’s good – I hope that is reflected in your discussions with the school board. Don’t forget that there may be many mainstream scientists who are skeptics, but if their evidence doesn’t support their position then it’s not scientifically valid. In the end verifiable evidence is what counts, and there is very little around that stands up to scrutiny.
> Best
> Keith


Jeffrey I. Barke, M.D.

4 Responses to “Los Alamitos School Board Member Makes U-Turn on Climate Change Teaching”

  1. J Bowers Says:

    Well done, Keith. On Bjorn Lomborg, Dr. Barke should be made aware that the British right wing press reported on Lomborg last August: Climate ‘sceptic’ Bjørn Lomborg now believes global warming is one of world’s greatest threats

    Not only is he on record stating in the press that

    The IPCC’s regular reports are the gold standard in climate change science. Each report – the latest was in 2007 – is the result of years of writing, reviewing and consensus-building among hundreds of scientists.

    but also…

    Prof Lomborg denied that he had reversed his opinion the threat posed by global warming. Unlike many climate change sceptics he has never denied that mankind’s actions are making the earth hotter, merely that it makes more economic sense to adapt to higher temperatures than resist them.

    In other words, any dissenting opinion of his is about the economics and adaptation to what he agrees is atually happening (warming), not the science.

  2. Paul Hawley Says:

    Dr. Barke says, “The IPCC is a UN political body.” Wrong. The IPCC is a UN scientific body.

    Kudos for hanging in there and getting any concession at all. Slowly other deniers and delayers are coming out admitting that the science is inarguable if honestly considered. Their names and statements should be trumpted from the housetops. (I’ll post a recent one if I get the time to locate it.)

  3. Jack Armstrong Says:

    The people on Barke’s list have been debunked here:

    Before this latest list of non-scientists was trotted out, the climate change deniers tried to point to discredited sites like

    PETITIONPROJECT.ORG is a domain name registered by Arthur B. Robinson. Mr. Robinson claims to be a “Professor of Chemistry” at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. What is the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine? See for yourself: It is located in a warehouse with a P.O. Box on a farm about 7 miles from the town of Cave Junction, Oregon. A quick check of their “faculty” reveals two dead people, an engineer, and a veterinarian. I did not take time to look further at their faculty. According to their 2002 IRS form 990, they also have several unpaid “board members,” including Robinson’s sons Zachary and Noah, who spend “one half hour per week” working for the institute.

    Their primary product appears to be a christian and creationist home-schooling kit. Their home-schooling materials — called “The Robinson Curriculum,” (presumably named after professor Robinson) — include this statement:

    “There is a growing possibility that, if the home schooling movement continues to expand, it may become the most important single force that Christians can employ to take America back from the anti-Christian forces that currently control American public life.”

    OK, enough of that. It is good to know who is taking down the names on the petition. Impugning the reliability of the name-takers, however, is not enough to debunk the list. So let’s move on to that.

    The web site lists its signatories here:

    Let’s look at the names listed, in order. I did a little poking around.

    1. Earl M. Aagaard, PhD. Who is Aagaard? According to “Dr. Earl Aagaard, of Pacific Union College’s biology department, wrote _The Importance of the Intelligent Design Theory for Seventh-day Adventists_. He invites us to vaccinate ourselves against all seductive materialistic influences and to make it abundantly clear that we accept the Bible account of Creation as true.” What is Pacific Union College? A seventh Day Adventist school. Checking their faculty list, however, it appears he is no longer with PUC. He is now with Southern Adventist University. His research interests include Intelligent Design. I have not found any publications by him relevant to climatology. You can read the SAU Biology Dept’s mission statement here: It’s an enlightening read; nothing about the scientific method in it.

    2. Charles W. Aami. This name does not appear in ProQuest’s Dissertations & Theses database (meaning no one by that name wrote a dissertation). I have searched several databases of academic and popular publications and I find no mention of this name. Google reveals nothing about this person other than no one else can find anything about him. This name does not appear in Lexis-Nexis nor does it appear in any directory database that I can find.

    3. Roger L. Aamodt. Here’s the title of his 1972 dissertation: MOBILIZATION, RETENTION AND EXCRETION OF TUNGSTEN-181 IN THE BEAGLE FOLLOWING INJECTION OF SODIUM-TUNGSTATE-(TUNGSTEN-181) AND INHALATION OF TUNGSTIC-OXIDE-(TUNGSTEN-181). Yes, that’s right: “in the beagle.” He injects Tungsten into beagles. He appears to be an administrator at the National Cancer Institute. He has not published anything related to climate.

    4. Wilbur A. Aanes. No dissertation. Retired veterinarian. No publications related to climate.

    You get the idea…

    The petition site itself claims “list of scientists includes 9,021 Ph.D.s, 6,961 at the master’s level, 2,240 medical doctors and 12,850 carrying a bachelor of science or equivalent academic degree.” Do I really need to elaborate on that last part? It appears the site was debunked by several parties back in 2001.

    I did a simple search in Academic Search Premier. This is from _Scientific American_; Oct2001, Vol. 285 Issue 4, p14:

    “Scientific American took a random sample of 30 of the 1,400 signatories claiming to hold a Ph.D. in a *climate-related science* (emphasis mine; note they did not take a sample of all signatories, only those claiming to hold a Ph.D. in a climate-related science). Of the 26 we were able to identify in various databases, 11 said they still agreed with the petition–one was an active climate researcher, two others had relevant expertise, and eight signed based on an informal evaluation. Six said they would not sign the petition today, three did not remember any such petition, one had died, and five did not answer repeated messages.”

  4. J Bowers Says:

    Re. 3 on The Oregon Petition

    Don’t forget some of its most notable signatories: Famous biologist Ginger Spice of the Spice Girls; Drs. Frank Burns, B. J. Honeycutt, and Benjamin Pierce of a famous M*A*S*H hospital from the Korean War. John Grisham’s in there, too. Haley Joel Osment must have been on hand to interpret all those dead peoples’ wishes.

    Meanwhile, 17 Nobel Laureates say Dr. Barke needs to reappraise his views.

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