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Thursday, April 13, 2023 

Comic about "climate denial" causes offense at teachers' convention

Here's a puzzling story from the Washington Post about a scientific comic that irked teachers at a convention because it allegedly emphasizes climate denial:
To science teachers attending a recent convention, the comic books titled “Simon the Solar-Powered Cat” seemed unremarkable at first. Their story began with Simon, an orange-and-white cat, begging for more food in typical feline fashion.

But on Page 5, the story took an unusual turn: A “friendly scientist” explained that Simon subsisted not on kibble, but on carbon dioxide. The scientist concluded that CO2 was a “miracle molecule” that fueled all life on Earth by helping plants turn sunlight into food.

That message and the comic book were the brainchild of the CO2 Coalition, a group that rejects the scientific consensus that carbon emissions are causing catastrophic climate change. The group claims that it distributed about 700 comic books to teachers at the National Science Teaching Association’s convention in Atlanta last month before being kicked out of the event.

“We were overwhelmed by the positive response from the teachers at the convention,” Gregory Wrightstone, executive director of the CO2 Coalition, said in an interview. “In fact, by the second day, we had handed out all of the comic books we had brought.”

The episode, details of which have not previously been reported, raised concerns among scientists and education experts that the teachers could spread climate misinformation to their students. It comes as states take divergent approaches to climate instruction in public schools, with New Jersey requiring students to learn about climate change in nearly every class and the Texas Board of Education calling for science textbooks to emphasize the “positive” effects of fossil fuels.

A large majority of climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming by emitting massive amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Humanity must rapidly reduce these emissions, scientists say, or face catastrophic consequences such as dramatic sea level rise over the next few decades.
Ah, it sounds like the comic in question offended those on the left who believe in global warming concerns, but not about violent political extremism and Islamic terrorism like what we're seeing today in quite a few places around the world. Anybody worried about global warming is resorting to little more than cheap excuse to avoid more challenging issues.
“By focusing 100 percent on this idea that plants need CO2, they’re intentionally misleading people by avoiding the real problems of CO2, which they didn’t talk about at all,” said Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University. “It’s kind of like if you’re talking about cigarettes, and all you talk about is how cool they make you look.”
And somebody sounds like he's avoiding whether any kind of energy has advantages in helping plant life grow, providing more food supplies. Oh, and how come the complaints about tobacco, but not about far worse chemicals like the drug called cocaine being legalized in Oregon? So if the comic's got any factual argument that any particular chemical is beneficial for plants, I suggest they knock off the complaints for a change, and research more serious issues, like mental health.
The influence of climate denial groups has waned over the past several decades, as the science has become clearer and the impacts of global warming have become starker. But the Virginia-based CO2 Coalition, which describes its mission as informing policymakers and the public of the “important contribution made by carbon dioxide to our lives and the economy,” has persisted in spreading its message.

Members of the coalition, which has received money from far-right organizations and donors with ties to the fossil fuel industry, ran a booth at the National Science Teaching Association’s convention. They spent the first day distributing three comic books and accompanying lesson plans to some of the roughly 6,500 attendees.
Another clue this is just a liberal swipe taken at a science group with a conservative bent. And that's the problem. The leftists sadly in charge of this, among countless other conventions of its sort, don't want any viewpoint or counterargument that's anathema to theirs.
All of the comics featured three young sisters named Sophia, Ariana and Elyssa — the owners of Simon the cat — and their neighbor, a scientist named Mr. Gordon. In a book titled “Once upon a time: A true story about the miracle molecule — carbon dioxide,” Gordon tells the sisters that CO2 has net benefits for the planet.

“Everything green in our very green world owes its existence to carbon dioxide,” Gordon says to them. “And every person and every animal … are built from the carbon in CO2, which we get from eating vegetables and meat.”

While it is true that CO2 helps plants grow, its accumulation in the atmosphere will have net negative effects for plants and people alike, Dessler said. Telling kids they need CO2 to survive, he said, “is like telling a drowning person they need water to survive. It’s not helpful.”
Oh, for heaven's sake. Nobody's saying a drowning person should be consuming the salty brine of the sea instead of sky-based oxygen. But why not stress why it's vital to learn how to swim and be able to duck one's head underwater for as long as they can hold their breath before coming up again to inhale more air? All that aside, this is fascinating - they're admitting CO2 has an advantage! Wow. In that case, why not find ways to work out some proper use for it instead of arguing against it in all instances?
On the second day of the convention, an official with the National Science Teaching Association asked members of the CO2 Coalition to stop distributing their materials or leave, according to a YouTube video uploaded by the coalition.

“You can take down your literature or you can go home — it’s your choice,” NSTA chief operating officer Ryan Foley says in the video. When Wrightstone refuses to comply, Foley responds, “All right, then you’re being kicked out. You should pack up and get out.”

When coalition members requested a booth at the convention, they signed a contract certifying that their materials were consistent with the association’s position statement on the teaching of climate science, NSTA Executive Director Erika Shugart said in an email. But then they violated the contract, she said.

In addition to the comic books, she said, coalition members circulated a pamphlet that criticized the position statement, which recognizes the “overwhelming scientific consensus” that the “Earth’s climate is changing, largely due to human-induced increases in the concentrations of heat-absorbing gases” such as CO2.
Here's an interesting query: what if leftists contributed to the ailing environment, and what if they still will? On the surface, you'd think some of today's leftists want to get their act together in a more positive way, but when look under a magnifying glass or microscope, you see it's all business as usual, with unconvincing responsibility taken.

And what if it turns out the convention's standards didn't say you had to adhere to specific viewpoints, because they assumed everyone would embrace their own narrow lefitst viewpoint wholesale? For now, it must be concluded that the NSTA just acted hysterically, rather than debate the CO2 Coalition's beliefs and see if they could offer a worthy counterargument. This, alas, is how only so many leftists go about today, and then you wonder why society is so divided.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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