Actually, Knowledge Is “The Gas of Life”

Credit: Library of Congress

South Dakota’s House of Representatives has passed a resolution calling for “balanced” teaching of global warming in the state’s public schools. The 36 state representatives who supported HCR 1009 believe that “carbon dioxide is not a pollutant…Many scientists refer to carbon dioxide as ‘the gas of life’”.

A lot of our planet’s substances are beneficial in moderation but harmful when there’s too much exposure. Take for example a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas called oxygen. Oxygen is essential for sustaining life on Earth. However, breathing elevated concentrations of this gas can cause oxygen toxicity, a poisoning that may lead to cell damage and death.

Carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the biggest global warming pollutants, is harmful and disruptive to ecosystems when there’s too much.

As originally introduced in South Dakota’s House, HCR 1009 stated “global warming is a scientific theory rather than a proven fact.” Public schools were urged to teach, among other methods, the astrological dynamics that affect the world’s weather patterns. As in astrology. I’m a Taurus…and?

South Dakota’s state Senate intervened on February 24 and amended the resolution to remove the reference to astrology. The record of the legislature’s concurrent resolution HCR 1009 can be viewed here.

Just as the state Senate removed the reference to astrology, South Dakota’s leaders should remove the inference that the science behind global warming is not solid. Basic science education is critically important for our future leaders, and the need for accuracy is all the more pronounced when elected officials attempt to pass legislation urging schools to teach kids how astrology—or cosmology, also cited in the resolution—has something to do with climate change.

Efforts by the science education community have been underway for decades to keep factual science in the picture and philosophical efforts such as intelligent design and astrology out. The National Center for Science Education does considerable work in the arena of teaching evolution rather than pseudoscience.

Balanced teaching is an important strategy for instruction in our public schools. Balanced teaching based on accuracy and data is paramount.