Michael Gove is concerned about teachers promoting science in schools. Yes, really

Michael Gove is concerned about teachers promoting science in schools. Yes, really.

The Daily Mail reports today that education secretary Michael Gove has expressed “concern” about a study which accuses “activist” teaching staff of trying to turn pupils into “foot soldiers of the green movement”.

According to the study carried out by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a climate change denying think-tank set up by former Tory chancellor Lord Lawson, “eco-activists” in the education system are urging children to use “pester power” to force parents to adopt green lifestyle choices.

“We find instances of eco-activism being given a free rein within schools and at the events schools encourage their pupils to attend,” the report claims.

Gove “read the report with concern”, according to a spokesperson for the education secretary.

Schools should not teach that a particular political or ideological point of view is right – indeed it is against the law for them to do so,” the spokesperson added.

Unlike most of the content found in the Daily Mail, it’s actually worth taking a closer look at this piece, if for no other reason than to understand just how loopy some on the right have become over the issue of man made climate change.

What exactly is it that the GWPF- and by extension Micheal Gove – are objecting to here?

According to the GWPF, telling kids to “avoid polluting the world”, “recycle” and “reduce their carbon footprint” is “brainwashing” carried out with the express intention of turning children into “foot soldiers of the green movement”.

But hang on a minute. What exactly is objectionable about teaching children to safeguard the environment? If you can avoid doing so, don’t go around polluting the world – it’s hardly revolutionary advice.

And perhaps, when the GWPF talk about “brainwashing”, they ought to consider who is attempting to brainwash who here.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it is “extremely likely” that humans have been the principal cause of warming since the 1950s. An analysis of abstracts of 11,944 peer-reviewed scientific papers, published between 1991 and 2011 and written by 29,083 authors, found that 98.4 per cent of authors who took a position endorsed man-made climate change, with just 1.2 per cent rejecting it and 0.4 per cent uncertain.

There is an overwhelming consensus in support of the theory of anthropogenic global warming, in other words.

Unless Michael Gove is a believer in the foolish relativist notion that there is no such thing as objective truth, then he ought to be quite keen on children leaving school with at least a basic understanding of a phenomenon that 98.4 per cent of scientists are convinced is occurring. Instead he appears to prefer the crackpot climate change denialism of the GWPF, an organisation stuffed with what are far too politely referred to as “sceptics”.

Schools should “not teach that a particular political or ideological point of view is right,” Gove says.

Well no. Schools should follow the evidence and act accordingly. Some points of view are backed by an overwhelming amount of empirical evidence and are therefore “right”. Others aren’t. This is why schools teach kids evolution rather than creationism. It’s why they teach astronomy rather than astrology. And it’s why they encourage children to take care of the environment and to think a little about man-made climate change.

It isn’t a “point of view”. It’s the scientific consensus.

James Bloodworth is the editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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