Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Stop the cosmos, Wyoming wants to get off

March Madness.

A month that saw the return of "Cosmos" also brought us a maddeningly unscientific move by the State of Wyoming.

On March 14, the Casper Star-Trib explored the effects as Wyoming (through a footnote in a bill passed by the Republican-dominated legislature) became the first state to block national science standards:
One of lawmakers' big concerns with the Next Generation Science Standards is an expectation that students will understand humans have significantly altered the Earth's biosphere. In other words, the standards say global warming is real.
That's a problem for some Wyoming lawmakers.
"[The standards] handle global warming as settled science," said Rep. Matt Teeters, a Republican from Lingle who was one of the footnote's authors. "There's all kind of social implications involved in that that I don't think would be good for Wyoming."
Teeters said teaching global warming as fact would wreck Wyoming's economy, as the state is the nation's largest energy exporter, and cause other unwanted political ramifications.
Micheli, the state board of education chairman, agreed.
"I don't accept, personally, that [climate change] is a fact," Micheli said. "[The standards are] very prejudiced in my opinion against fossil-fuel development."
We staties realize that a chunk of our salaries comes from taxes on coal that is burned in rickety old power plants that produces greenhouse gases that are warming the planet. Many of us also have children or grandchildren who attend science classes in Wyoming public schools where teachers should be teaching science and not some hare-brained wingnut theorem based on how many Tea Party votes there are in Lingle. I also know that Wyoming doesn't exist in a vacuum, that every wacko move by our legislature has a way of zooming around the Internet for everyone to read. Thinking about moving your family to Wyoming? Interested in having your kids learn that coal is the breakfast of champions or that our ancestors rode around the prairie on dinosaurs? We have just the education system for you. And good luck getting into that tier-one university.

The above Casper Star-Trib article went viral this week, with coverage by the Washington Post and Education Week, among many mainstream news outlets, as well as progressive blogs such as Daily Kos and Think Progress.

One might speculate that pols such as Teeters and Evanston's Micheli (also a Repub) are purposefully going out of their way to portray Wyomingites as a bunch of bumpkins just so people won't flock here when floods, caused by nonexistent global warming, inundate the coasts. That attitude is in stark contrast to our governor's efforts to attract tech-savvy companies to Wyoming. For two years, I've heard him at the Wyoming Broadband Summit push for more tech companies to locate in Wyoming. I've also heard him lobby for increased connectivity, from Cheyenne to Jackson, from Lingle to Evanston. We all want greater connectivity. The danger, of course, if that communiques from Wingnuttia reach the wide wide world much quicker.


RobertP said...

Mike, Debbie and I are watching Cosmos as I read this. Hate it when science is prejudiced against something so lucrative as fossil-fuel development. To channel Spaceballs, Mitchell is not in this for the money, he is in it for a $hitload of money. Guess we all have a price.


Michael Shay said...

Even in Spaceballs, the cosmos existed, if only for "merchandising!"