Monday, November 05, 2007

Indoctrinating Green Warriors

There is a fundamental distinction between education and indoctrination; education teaches a person the process by which one obtains and validates knowledge, while indoctrination serves only to imbue a person with the ideology of the indoctrinator. To a professional educator, this distinction ought to be academic, yet when it comes to what children are taught in the public schools today, the opposite seems to dominate. Take for example this report by Jenn Wiant of the Northwest Hearld that reveals a project that turns grade school students into so-called green "warriors."

"Each one of you can do something about global warming," the Global Warming Warrior Princess told 450 young, eager minds at Olson Elementary School.

"Each one of you makes a difference when it comes to global warming."

The Global Warming Warrior Princess, as Bull Valley artist Nancy Steinmeyer calls herself, was introducing the Woodstock students to the idea of carbon dioxide and explaining that they could help remove it from the air by turning off lights and TVs, saving water and recycling.

Steinmeyer showed the students a large United States-shaped object covered with 4,500 black squares. Each time the students did something at home to help reduce their carbon emissions, Steinmeyer said, she would remove some of the squares, eventually revealing the collage she had painted beneath.

Olson Elementary is the first school where Steinmeyer has introduced what she calls the Map-Atmosphere Clear project. In the coming months, she plans to bring other global warming education tools to the school, including a global warming board game, a story she wrote called "Global Warming Warriors," a global warming art project and a global warming variety show.
It would take a global warming warrior-tyrant to transform an idea as simple as not wasting electricity because it costs money into yet another opportunity to jump on the man-caused global warming bandwagon. Steinmeyer explains her reasoning later in the article:

"When I started this a year ago, there wasn't much going on [about global warming], and now it's everywhere, but it's all focusing on adults," Steinmeyer said.

"I know that the way to get to adults is through kids ... Kids have time for this, and it gives them a chance to be a little bit in control."

When Steinmeyer moved from Chicago to McHenry County 13 years ago, she became interested in land use and preserving open space as she watched developers turn the land into homes. But because land use and growth are controversial issues, she had trouble finding a sponsor for a game she designed about land use, she said.

About a year ago, Steinmeyer changed her focus to global warming.
So only then was Steinmeyer able to take her act mainstream. One has to admire Steinmeyer's persistence in searching for an issue to push, if not her moral reasoning or scientific background. Yet notice that someone with more of a skill for green propaganda than for teaching the scientific method is allowed to address public school children and that her program is described by the press without any hint of disagreement or dissent. One would almost think that the topic of man-caused climate change or the larger aims of the green movement were utterly uncontroversial (and a perfect topic for discussion by grade-schoolers).

Except, of course, man-caused climate change is deeply controversial and hardly a perfect topic of discussion for grade-schoolers. We can leave out the ongoing debate among adults and the downright suppression of any research contrary to the view that the sky is falling. At an age when students are just beginning to grasp how science works and how one properly evaluates scientific claims, these students are being asked to take the whole man-caused climate change position on faith. They are being asked, on faith, to accept that technology causes world-wide disasters and that they must accept personal responsibility in order to prevent it.

Out of morbid curiosity, I visited Steinmeyer's personal website, which includes what she describes as her "environmental 3-d paintings." In these works, Steinmeyer paints two images, a pastoral scene on a background canvas and an image of man's various depredations against the environment on translucent material in the foreground; the effect is to present the viewer with a "before and after" image depicting the impact of man's exploitation of the Earth. According to the artist:

I'm interested in the rapid loss of natural land to new development and the environmental consequences of this change. Growth is unavoidable, but uncontrolled and unplanned expansion can have disastrous effects. Through my unusual three-dimensional painting I'm documenting the changes with the hope of raising viewer awareness to this problem.
It is here that all the cards are laid upon the table. Steinmeyer decries "uncontrolled and unplanned expansion," yet did the people who developed the land not own and control it? Did they not plan to use their land for human benefit? Was the system of tort law that protects neighbors from actual damages to their lives and property somehow suspended? Or is it that greens don't yet have the power they seek to control and coerce the population at large-but should, so as to better enshrine the intrinsic value of wilderness? Coupled with Steinmeyer's admission that her overarching goal is to use children to influence their parents, all I see is the fruits of a corrupt ideological campaign, rather than attempt to provide children with a real education.

After all, I doubt that the curriculum of the Olson Elementary School where Steinmeyer gave her presentation includes teaching science in its historical context, so that students can see how man's prosperity is directly linked with his ability to understand and command nature. I wager that these students have not been shown how man's rising affluence allows him to better control his environment (to include contending with the stranded costs of human existence). I further doubt that these students have ever learned of instances where greens have used hysteria to shut down entire industries on the basis of specious scientific claims, such as the global ban on DDT (let alone the human cost of these policies). And I wager that if these students ever saw a "Hero for Capitalism," they would think him to be their greatest enemy, rather than a symbol for individual rights, justice under the law, personal productivity and economic prosperity. And let us not forget: your taxes pay for the whole of it.

It would be better, even if the theory of man-caused climate change proves true, that children receive a real education in the scientific process and how one establishes that a scientific claim is certain. That same rational process would help equip these children with the skills they need to identify proper answers any question of their existence, let alone the question of climate change. Yet, as we see here, this is precisely the education our children are not receiving.


Apollo said...

Two Points,

Don’t expect any of those kids to come into contact with any opposing viewpoints for a very long time. I remember when I was a kid; I thought that the “fact” that man was destroying the entire world was a complete unquestionable fact, like the fact that the sun is the center of the solar system. This is because I NEVER heard an opposing viewpoint, every person I had ever heard talk about the subject said that man was destroying the earth and causing global warming. I heard it from my parents, television, books, news, and school; I was completely saturated with this idea. The very first time I ever heard an opposing viewpoint was when I sat down to watch 20/20 and saw John Stossel challenge the whole global warming idea, and It blew my mind! It was like hearing for your entire life that the earth is flat and then one day you hear somebody say the exact opposite of something that didn’t even occur to you could be challenged.

The second point is,

The effect of being indoctrinated with all this global warming propaganda is not the most harmful aspect. In my opinion the most harmful aspect is the hatred for mankind that it instills upon kids. I remember when I was younger, that I felt such intense hatred for human beings that I wished that they would be wiped off the planet. And even after I started to challenge the environmentalist propaganda I still felt a great hate for man. But fortunately I discovered Ayn Rand, and I don’t have to tell you what she thinks about Man.

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in your comment, "even if the theory of man-caused climate change proves true". If it were to prove true, what would be the appropriate way to address the issue? (I don't say "problem", because it might not be a problem for everyone). I realize the proper framework in which to consider the issue is that of property rights, but how would that work concretely?

Monica said...

I recently graded essay exams by students asking them what they would take back to the future on an exploration expedition. Some of the answers are shocking. One of the students wrote " I would warn them not to start globle warming or elts the earth would die and I would not be born."

Another one talked about using Indian corn to make ethanol to power an airplane he'd brought back from the future (because there are no gas stations in the distant past). That's perfectly logical, but you know that students are learning about ethanol as some sort of viable solution. Yuck. This bothers me immensely.

Nicholas Provenzo said...

Anonymous wrote:

>If [man-caused global warming] were to prove true, what would be the appropriate way to address the issue?

Well, if it is possible to prove that something half-man, half-bear and half-pig does in fact exist, I think the problem should be tacked the same way capitalism solves for any other question of damages. One must first prove actual harm according to legal standards of proof. Note that this is something that greens cannot do now (as recently evidenced by the myriad of caveats required for "An Inconvenient Truth" to be shown in British public schools). In fact, the best greens can do is merely assert that global warming is causing problems for man, like Al Gore did when he asserted that Hurricane Katrina was more violent due to man-caused global warming.

Well, just how much more violent? After all, if the theory of man-caused global warming is true and damages are to be assigned, isn't it fair to establish just what actions man is responsible for, and what actions he is not? Only then do I think that it is proper to talk about finding culpable parties, assigning damages and limiting behavior.