SkepticalScience.com Helps Students Debunk Climate Myths
I teach MET295 – Global Climate Change to first and second year community college students. MET295 is a three credit lecture course that serves as a science elective for the general student population. Basic high school algebra is the only prerequisite. (See the course outline.)
I used John Cook’s SkepticalScience.com as the student resource for this summer’s research papers. As you will see from the two example papers highlighted on this blog, information found at SkepticalScience.com is accessible to the typical college student and likely to the general public.
Each student was randomly assigned a topic from Skeptic Arguments & What The Science Says.
Students were asked to carefully study all the information appearing in the Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced tabs.
Students were required to summarize, in their own words, the information learned from researching the topic. Students were also encouraged to use other resources, especially course notes, to help them complete the paper. Students were to use proper APA Citation Style formatting within the content (parenthetical citing) and in a Works Cited page appearing as the last page.
I asked all students to please refer to the Term Paper Grading Rubric to maximize their final paper grades.
In conclusion, I must tell a personal story from about just one week ago. While talking to a well educated, intelligent neighbor and describing to her my report topic “consensus”, I asked her if she realized that scientists were, for the most part, no longer deliberating about whether or not there is human induced climate change. She stated “Well, you know how exceptionally smart my brother is and he’s into science and all, and he says global warming is a myth and it’s just all propaganda to scare people“. Six weeks ago, that statement would have given me a feeling of peace inside knowing that this very smart person believed that our world was not being destroyed. Now, after taking this course, it didn’t make sense, so I went out on a limb. I had a hunch and asked: “Who does he work for?“ her response was: “Exxon Mobile…..”. The silence was profound, we stared at each other, and we both could just read each other’s minds at that point. Though I did not feel the inner peace of being reassured that the Earth was O.K, I felt empowered because it made sense. It gave some clarity to a topic that, until now, to me, did not seem to have clear answers for the everyday people who are not scientists. I told her that next time he came over, I would love to talk to him about it. (just curious to know what Exxon is telling its employees so that they can continue to make their billions).
Marine organisms provide 15% of animal protein for 3 billion people worldwide. Fish provide the main source of protein for another 1 billion (UNEP,2010). Ocean acidification places these valuable food resources in jeopardy. While the UNEP report makes eight recommendation for addressing this issue, the last recommendation might be the best place to start, by fostering “increased awareness of this issue through diverse media.” (2010). Only when people become aware of the seriousness of this issue, will they be ready to take decisive action toward reducing our CO2 emissions and saving our oceans.
Note: Both students gave me permission to post their papers but one wished to remain anonymous.
Please also see: Skepticalscience.com Educates My Students to read four student papers from the spring 2011 semester.